The Yankees should bring back Didi Gregorius. He’s a locker room leader and you can probably blame his struggles last year on a combination of Tommy John surgery and missing a chunk of the season. Baseball is a sport of repetitions, and consistent reps starting in Spring Training is something Didi did not have in 2019.
Think of what missing time did for a guy like Craig Kimbrel. Coming into the season Kimbrel had a career 1.91 ERA, 1.96 FIP and a .920 WHIP. He entered Wrigley halfway through the year and was a disaster. He sported a 6.53 ERA, 8.00 FIP and 1.597 WHIP.
Didi Gregorius also had his struggles. If you were to tell me that Didi was going to hit 16 home runs and 61 RBIs before the season, well, sign me up. That wasn’t the problem though. The magic of Didi is he always outperforms his normally poor Expected Stats but that magic just was not there this year.
.238 AVG (.268 in 2018)
.276 OBP (.335 in 2018)
.441 SLG (.494 in 2018)
.718 OPS (.829 in 2018)
15.4 K% (12.1 in 2018)
4.9 BB% (8.4 in 2018)
The big difference between Craig Kimbrel’s down year and Didi Gregorius’ is that Kimbrel got paid before he could implode. Didi did not. His down year had the worst timing ever. Now he’s a free agent and the guy once lauded for being Derek Jeter’s replacement might end up playing for less than what he believes he’s worth, and go out for a team that isn’t the Yankees.
As the days pass, it feels like the chances of bringing Didi Gregorius back are getting slimmer. Especially when you consider that this is the new era of the Yankees where sometimes coupons and discounts play a part in the process of paying players.
It’s a strange feeling to have in your gut as a fan, to watch a team penny-pinch a staple such as Didi when they are in fact the richest team in Major League Baseball. Here’s what Craig Edwards from Fangraphs said of their value in his November 6th article, The Yankees Don’t Spend Like They Used To:
The Yankees are often known for operating in another financial stratosphere. Forbes put a $4.6 billion valuation on the club, roughly 40% higher than the Los Angeles Dodgers and essentially the same as the White Sox, Mariners, and Blue Jays combined. While the Yankees’ YES Network is valued at around $3.5 billion, 14 other teams’ networks combined recently sold for about one-fifth that cost on a per team basis. Forbes estimates that only two teams (Dodgers and Red Sox) have annual revenues within $200 million of the Yankees.
Didi Gregorius will not be commanding a $100 million contract. Even if he were, when you see Forbes value the Yankees at $4.6 billion and they won’t even offer Didi the $17.5 qualifying offer, that just feels dirty.
That number is pennies compared to the amount of profits the Yankees bring in. If he doesn’t do well, then everyone will get it. He’ll go off to the Reds. The Yankees aren’t the Rays or the Royals though, and that qualifying offer that gives Didi a chance to prove himself wouldn’t choke their bottom line. I get going about business this way for a Manny Machado or a Bryce Harper. Didi though?
No other team can sell an ugly 2 grande Gucci jacket for corny trust fund kids like this. That’s how rich the Yankees are.
To finish off what Edwards wrote about the Yankees and their value:
Financially speaking in baseball, there’s the Yankees up top, then 50 feet of swimming pools full of gold, then there’s everyone else. But lately, when it comes to spending on the major league roster, the Yankees haven’t operated as a behemoth and have instead opted to swim in that gold. Such is their choice.
GLEYBER DAY AT SHORT
Since money is an issue in terms of signing Didi Gregorius, another thing going against him is Gleyber Torres. The 22-year-old phenom is a superstar in the making.
When the Yankees traded for Gleyber Torres, they never could have expected the power numbers. The Cubs probably never saw it coming either when they traded him away for Aroldis Chpaman. His .535 SLG in 2019 is the highest it has ever been in the majors or any of his years in the minors.
Gleyber Torres in 2019:
The offense is a plus, but the main thing that hurts Didi’s chances of coming back is just how much better Gleyber Torres is at short than at second. In 547.1 innings at second, Gleyber had -7 Defensive Runs Saved. At short, he was a positive defender with a 1 DRS in 651.2 innings.
When you add to the fact that DJ had a 5 DRS at second, the Yankees may value a Gleyber/DJ infield over a Didi/Gleyber infield because, if you’re going by what the analytics say, it’s just better. On top of this, it is also cheaper.
Since 2015 Didi’s defense has been up and down. (Statistically that is. I’m still personally skeptical about defensive metrics. Unfortunately they’re just things we’ll have to get used to in baseball.)
2015: 5 DRS, 1330 innings
2016: -9 DRS, 1309.1 innings
2017: 1 DRS, 11742.2 innings
2018: -2 DRS, 1149.1 innings
2019: -6 DRS, 688.1 innings
While our eyes say Didi is an excellent shortstop, it seems the numbers don’t back it up. Then again, the numbers also said Gio Urshela was a bad third basemen, but he did this.
Yankees’ Gio Urshela showin’ off the arm strength 💪 pic.twitter.com/MF4EHhEjIX
— ESPN (@espn) July 4, 2019
Maybe this is just a personal bias, but something about not seeing Didi at short after all the years of saying he was the perfect heir to Derek Jeter just feels rotten. You can’t give that “perfect heir” one more shot?