A farewell; Didi Gregorius signs with Philadelphia Phillies
The writing was on the wall when Gleyber Torres first came into focus for the New York Yankees; Their then current shortstop Didi Gregorius was more likely than not going to be the odd-man out in a crowded infield. Gregorius was coming off Tommy John surgery after suffering a torn UCL during the 2018 MLB Playoffs. He had struggled when he returned in August but picked it up again somewhat in the playoffs.
The legacy of Didi Gregorius is a complicated one, as he came to New York having to replace one of the greatest players in Yankees history. Living in the shadow of Derek Jeter for a few months, Gregorius carved a path of his own where he was both revered and lauded for his excellent play.
Didi’s first half of his 2015 season was a struggle. Gregorius fell under the pressure of living up to unattainable expectations and batted under .200 for most of that time. However, once he gained some confidence, Didi Gregorius became a fan favorite for the Yankees. He finished that season batting .265 with nine home runs and 56 RBIs.
Regardless of how he swung the bat, Gregorius was always a defensive wizard for the Yankees. The past few years it was a pleasure being able to see he and Gleyber Torres convert double plays, making diving catches and show off their arms. Didi was a savant in the field and that part of his game will be missed greatly.
The two biggest ways (other than defensively) the Yankees will miss Didi Gregorius will be his clutch hitting and clubhouse demeanor. Even though he was never the best hitter on many loaded Yankee teams, he always seemed to find his shining moment in the playoffs;
The first home run was Didi’s first real “Welcome to the Bronx” moment. He tied up what looked to be a lost game in the 2017 AL Wild Card, after Luis Severino barely got through an inning of work. The second was the cherry on top of a great Yankee career. We all knew that Gregorius more than likely wouldn’t be back, and even though he struggled for parts of the season and postseason, he was able to give us one last moment.
It’s sad to see someone like Didi Gregorius go because he seemed to be such a positive presence in the clubhouse. Considering it’s the Yankees clubhouse and all eyes are on them at all times, Didi was able to take some pressure off the team with quips, jokes and any other distractions. The fans loved his tweets and emojis after every win, and no matter how well he did that night he never included himself.
Didi Gregorius is a selfless teammate and someone that deserves to be a starter. Unfortunately, he was pushed out of New York because of the numbers game. At the end of the day baseball is a business and Didi Gregorius is a player in that business. It was a pleasure being able to see Didi grow from young shortstop in the shadow of Derek Jeter into a fan favorite.
Gregorius will get a standing ovation next time he visits the Bronx with the Philadelphia Phillies. His deal is for one year and $14M, a kind of prove-it deal that Didi probably wanted. Due to the injury, he surely wasn’t going to get a long-term deal until he can prove that he’s healthy enough to contribute consistently. Until then, he’ll be on short-term deals.
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