A former Yankee fan-favorite is set to hit the free-agent market. Should the Bombers pursue a reunion with their former shortstop?
Ah yes, it is finally Autumn and the MLB season is quickly drawing to a close. With the World Series set to kick off on Tuesday, the offseason is upon us, so let our minds be filled with all the free agent and trade rumors fans can handle. Just recently, we took a look at three players the New York Yankees must pursue this offseason. In this list, Liam Hendriks, Marcus Stroman, and Trevor Bauer were all points of focus. Here, however, I have another potential target that may fly under the radar for many teams and fans: former Yankee shortstop Didi Gregorius.
Didi with the Yankees
Gregorius was brought in to help fill the void Derek Jeter left behind when he retired following the 2014 season. After a so-so first year in Pinstripes in 2015 where Gregorius hit .265 with a .318 on-base percentage and nine long balls, Sir Didi really took off in the following seasons. Many would say Gregorius’ best season was 2018. After getting off to an electric start in the month of April, Didi’s numbers took a major hit towards the middle of the season. However, he still finished with very strong numbers overall, hitting .268 with a .335 OBP, mashing 27 home runs, and spotting a 122 wRC+ and a .350 wOBA.
Unfortunately, Gregorius’ 2018 ended in despair, as he received Tommy John Surgery following the season’s end. He didn’t return until June 7, and you could definitely speculate the late start was a hit to Gregorius’ production, where he hit just .238 with a .276 OBP in 82 games. This was Gregorius’ last year in Pinstripes, as he then took his talents to Philadelphia with the Phillies on a one-year pact for 2020.
Impact in Philly
In Gregorius’ one year in Philadelphia, he hit .284 with a very solid .339 OBP (a career-high). His wRC+ was his second-highest for his career, as well, at 116. Finally, Gregorius bashed 10 home runs and drove in 40 in his 60 games with the Phillies, so the power stroke was present, too.
So Why Would the Yankees Bring him Back?
Let me be clear and say that any return of Gregorius would likely be a backup plan if the Bombers lose coveted second baseman DJ LeMahieu in free agency. If LeMahieu takes his talents elsewhere, this would leave the door open for second base, where you would play Gleyber Torres, who had a poor year defensively at shortstop in 2020. With Gregorius, you’d be able to slide him back in at short and gain defensive ability there.
After Gregorius took a one-year pact to head to Philadelphia and having as solid a year as he did, you’d assume Gregorius is looking for anything but a renewal of his previous contract, and I believe he’ll be paid handsomely. He may not command a mega-contract like LeMahieu will, but a three-year, $40 million for the 30-year-old shortstop may be exactly what we’re looking at.
As I said, the Yankees should only be concerned with bringing back Gregorius if LeMahieu parts ways. If he does, a reunion with the Bombers’ shortstop of five years may not be the worst avenue to go.