Is Didi Gregorius worth bringing back this offseason?
With the playoffs coming up in just over a month, the end of the season looms near. Furthermore, there’s several significant decisions to be made this offseason for the Yankees. For one, the front office must figure out the starting rotation situation. The retirement of CC Sabathia and underperformances of a few starters in 2019 means they’ll look to possibly execute some reinforcements, such as free agent right-hander Gerrit Cole. Past that though, the free agency of infielder Didi Gregorius sits atop the priority checklist.
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Gregorius will warrant a decent amount of money and the Yanks will face the difficult dilemma of if he is worth it. Although, his injury-plagued 2019, along with the fact that he’ll be 30 in 2020, could result in the Yanks being able to get him for a cheaper price. Without him, they would still possess a very good infield that would include Luke Voit, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres moving to shortstop, and either breakout star Gio Urshela or Miguel Andujar manning the hot corner. Youngster Thairo Estrada could fill in as a sufficient backup middle infielder as well.
With that being said, Sir Didi without a question makes the Yankees a better team and is arguably the heart and soul of the pinstripes. His clutch postseason hits over the past few years and leadership in the clubhouse make him more of a valuable commodity than his statistics may lead one to believe. One of many fleece jobs Brian Cashman has executed over the last several years, Gregorius was an average shortstop with some upside at the time of the 2014 three-team trade that sent now-All-Star closer Shane Greene to the Tigers and above-average starter Robbie Ray to the Diamondbacks. Since then, he’s done an admirable job in following up the play of first-ballot Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.
Those shoes to fill would scare several players away, but Gregorius has done tremendous in embracing the spotlight and turning into a great locker room guy for the Yanks as well as player. In his first season in the Bronx in 2015, he hit a pedestrian .265/.318/.370 with nine homers, 56 RBIs, and a below-league average OPS+ of 89. In 1,755 regular season ABs amongst 482 games since then, the shortstop has slashed .275/.315/.473 with 85 home runs and 287 RBIs. Across a full 162-game season, those are averages of 29 HRs and 96 RBIs, well-above the numbers you typically see from shortstops. Gregorius’ lone downfall offensively has been the limited amount of walks he creates, making for a below-average OBP.
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For the 2018 season, FanGraphs ranked Didi Gregorius eighth amongst all shortstops in UZR/150 at 5.2, which measures the number of runs above/below average a fielder is per 150 defensive games. Gregorius ranked ahead of fellow shortstops such as Carlos Correa, Brandon Crawford, Xander Bogaerts, and Trevor Story. Metrics have the lefty bat as an above-average defender and hitter for the SS position. After delving into his career stats and metrics, there’s still one part of his game that cannot be measured. That would be the leadership and attitude he brings to the Yankees clubhouse. Coupled with veteran outfielder Brett Gardner, he’s the glue guy of this team, something that should be taken into consideration this offseason when exploring if they should bring him back.
The wise decision would be to make Didi Gregorius a Yankee for the rest of his career and lock him up as their shortstop for the near future, continuing a lethal up-the-middle infield duo of Gregorius and rising superstar Gleyber Torres.
Article by: Spencer SchultzFollow @spenceschultz63 Follow @BronxBomberBall