Picking up the pieces after Gregorius Tommy John announcement
For those of you sleeping under a rock, it was announced during Friday’s end of season press conference that Didi Gregorius was to have Tommy John surgery after tearing his elbow during Game 3 of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox. General Manager Brian Cashman stated that Didi has had a slight tear in his elbow since the Yankees traded for him from Arizona, but like Masahiro Tanaka elected not to have surgery on it.
This news could not have come at a worse time for Gregorius, as he is going into his last year under contract and looking for the Yankees to re-sign him. It’s not to say that the Yankees won’t, but with the rumors of Manny Machado heating up each and every day, there’s a very good possibility that Didi is dumped to the curb after he comes back from the injury.
The Yankees are in a bit of a pickle. They know how valuable Gregorius is to the Yankees both in and out of the clubhouse, but they can’t just sit on their hands and wait for him to come back. There are a few realistic options, some more flashy than others. Here are three that would make the most sense.
Sign Manny Machado long-term
The most obvious choice, and the one talked about on just about every sports radio network is the option to sign Manny Machado to a long-term deal and dump Didi after the season. Machado wants to play shortstop wherever he lands, wants to be on the Yankees (especially from his comments during the All-Star Break), and would be another All-Star in a stacked lineup.
However, just because it’s the flashiest option doesn’t mean the Yankees should take it. For starters, the Yankees don’t want to start overloading themselves with bloated contracts. They already have a pretty much untradeable Giancarlo Stanton, need to pay Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino, and from what it seems have tried to get away from the “buying a championship” mantra.
The second and most important point is that Machado may be a great player, but he doesn’t bring nearly the same appeal as Gregorius. Machado is a poor defensive shortstop, is a right-handed bat in an already righty dominated lineup, and has a tendency to strike out. In addition, adding another superstar personality to the Yankees locker room may not work out all that well. So in essence, getting Machado may look great on paper, but won’t be a good move long-term.
Re-sign Adeiny Hechavarria
This is the least sexy move the Yankees could make, but it would be the one that falls best in line with what the Yankees are trying to build analytics wise. Adeiny Hechavarria is a very good defensive shortstop and showed in his short time as a Yankee that he can hit a little bit too.
You’d be losing a lot of offense at the bottom of the lineup, but Hech would more than make up for Didi’s defense. The biggest issue with this move? Hechavarria isn’t necessarily an everyday player. Rolling him out there every day could mean him getting exposed to good pitching and having a Gary Sanchez-esque kind of year. However, bringing him back would also mean the Yankees would have such a reliable fielder, something they had with Didi.
Take a chance of Daniel Murphy
No, Daniel Murphy should not play shortstop. He is not a shortstop, isn’t an amazing fielder at second base (much improved though), and is on the wrong side of 30. What Murphy does do, which would be an upgrade from re-signing Neil Walker, is allow Gleyber Torres to move to his natural position at shortstop.
Having Murphy at second and Torres at short is the best of both worlds. The Yankees don’t have to make a decision on the Didi contract (yet), can receive good defense from Gleyber at short and have a powerful lefty bat in Murphy.
This may be the least likely option as Murphy is still going to attract a lot of attention in the offseason, but he’s a much cheaper, short-term option as opposed to Machado. The Yankees would get to have their cake and eat it too.
The Yankees have a lot of decisions to make this offseason, but none more important than how they handle this Didi Gregorius situation. Is Didi the shortstop of the future? Will they go after Machado? Is there some mystery shortstop that they have their eye on? No one knows, but that we do know is that the Yankees have their first major pickle of what is going to be a long offseason. Pitchers and catchers start in four months.