It might behoove the Yankees to wait on finalizing a contract extension with impending free agent Didi Gregorius — who’s in the midst of recovering from offseason Tommy John surgery — until they see him fully healthy again, and back in the lineup.
That negotiating window could arrive as soon as June. But Yankees general manager Brian Cashman isn’t entirely sold on that glass-half-full return date for the 28-year-old shortstop.
During an interview with SiriusXM’s Fantasy Sports Radio on Wednesday, Cashman said he expects Gregorius to reclaim his starting role sometime between July and August, barring any setbacks. He also mentioned that sophomore infielder Gleyber Torres will receive reps at shortstop during spring training.
“In Didi’s case, they say it’s possible you’ll see him as early as June. I think that’s optimistic,” Cashman said. “I think the more likely scenario is July or August. Clearly, we want to make sure he’s right. He’s a hell of a player and one we’re going to miss — especially with that left-handed bat that balances our lineup out.”
Gregorius, who suffered the right elbow injury while making a throw in last season’s ALDS against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, underwent surgery back on October 18. Two weeks ago, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said the club’s original timetable for Gregorius was “anywhere from two-to-four months” into the 2019 campaign.
Based on Cashman’s latest comments, it sounds like Gregorius will be ready around the back-end of that timetable.
While Gregorius continues to rehab over the next few months — he began a throwing program in Tampa on February 11 — the Yankees will count on veteran infielder Troy Tulowitzki to fill the void at shortstop. The 34-year-old, who was released by the Blue Jays in December after missing the entire 2018 season recovering from surgeries on both of his heels, hit a solo home run against Toronto in his spring debut on Monday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
“I’ll tell you, [Tulowitzki] looks good. He’s motivated,” Cashman told SiriusXM. “I think everybody saw that with the demonstrative yelling and screaming running around the basepaths after he hit that home run… He’s still young enough and he looks athletic. He’s moving extremely well… He’s taking on an active leadership role in this clubhouse…
“He love this game, but he is motivated to reclaim the name he had in this game. And if he approaches a portion of that, we’ll take it. Because when we acquired him and placed that bet on that player based on the workouts and reviewing the medicals and dealing with our doctors, the bet we were placing was, we just need him to show up for a period of time for three months.”
According to multiple reports, the Yankees have had discussions with Gregorius about a multi-year deal. In 2018, he established career-high marks in home runs (27) and on-base percentage (.335), and Spotrac.com has Gregorius slated to make $11.75 million this season.
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