Yankees runaway Didi Gregorius, other than a catcher, tops the bill of team needs in the field. But is the fence too broken to be fixed?
If former Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius has a strong desire to return to the Bronx, his comments over the last few days did little to endear him to the team, especially regarding his thoughts about Yankee’s problem child Gary Sanchez.
Once again, a free-agent to be, Gregorius addressed a wide variety of topics Friday during a 20-minute radio interview on WFAN’s Moose and Maggie show.
Clearly off the Yankee’s reservation now, Gregorius was uncharacteristically feisty during the exchange, and he seemed to purport a “devil may care” approach to all questions.
The Yankees Take A Punch From Sir Didi
But the headline-grabbing words came when Gregorius challenged the Yankees handing of Gary Sanchez over the years.
Oddly, Sanchez came up in Gregorius’s thoughts in a round-about way regarding a question about J. T. Realmuto and whether he’s the type of player who can play in New York.
Pretty much tossing the question aside at first, “I think so,” Gregorius answered. “Personally, I think everybody can play in New York.”
But then he added after further prodding – Everybody except, say, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez in 2021 and beyond?
“Yeah, because people keep bashing him,” Gregorius answered.
Gregorius wasn’t asked and therefore didn’t expand on who these “people” are. Still, it’s a good thing because they are so voluminous, both inside and outside the Yankees organization, Gregorius would still be naming them.
So, what else do we have besides Gregorius carrying the torch for a player who can’t carry it himself?
Analytics, bah humbug on analytics. According to reporting by nj.com, Gregorius says Joe Girardi manages with his gut, Aaron Boone, with analytics — after having a standout 2020 season playing for the Phillies through the pandemic.
Well, you can argue about the point given the Phillies underwhelming third-place finish in the NL East, four games under .500, compared to the Yankees season – but that is beside the salient point.
Talking About Burning Bridges
The point being that Didi Gregorius seems bent on burning bridges with the Yankees rather than trying to restore them if indeed he wishes to play for the Yankees ever again.
Sounding more like the woe is me Gary Sanchez than the Yankee who was an integral part of the team in the years he played for them, Gregorius offered a terse assessment of the chance he returns to the Yankees in 2021, saying, “I don’t think they would want me back.”
Again, Gregorius, the master of five languages, doesn’t say – they don’t want me back – which is a definitive statement.
Instead, he uses the word would as if to suggest what? He no longer considers himself a good fit for the Yankees, and he’s much more comfortable with Joe Girardi than Aaron Boone?
It would seem so, and if true, the Yankees need to get on their high horse to find themselves a replacement, or at least a proven backup, for Gleyber Torres, who for whatever reason is not cutting it in the field at that position.
We’ll probably never know why Brian Cashman did not make the same kind of effort he made pursuing Gerrit Cole with Didi Gregorius, and why he consciously chose to break up the fledging team of Gregorius at short and Torres at second base.
In the end, though, it’s another wrench in bringing Didi back. Because it means that Cashman’s ever-expanding ego has to admit he made a mistake.
Yankees: So, What Now?
So, if as it appears Didi Gregorius is out of the picture, what do the Yankees do now?
One option, of course, is to do nothing in the hope that Gleyber Torres will rise to the level of his athleticism to have a comeback season in the field, using good field, good speed, no-hit Tyler Wade as a backup again.
The Yankees can look into the Class of 2021 Free Agent Shortstops to find a suitable candidate at shortstop.
One thru five, Spotrac ranks them this way:
The first thing you notice is they are all in their early thirties, which pretty much rules out a long-standing commitment by the Yankees to any of them.
If the Yankees want to go in the direction of improving their defense at shortstop, and that is the main idea here, then the overwhelming choice has to be Andrelton Simmons.
MLB Trade Rumors.com provided this analysis of Simmons before the 2020 season.
- Andrelton Simmons (31): Simmons is one of the greatest defensive players in the game’s history. He added to his value with slightly above-average offense from 2017-18 but has typically failed to reach those heights at the plate. Last season was a rough one on offense for Simmons, who dealt with ankle issues throughout, though he could further position himself for a sizable payday with a bounce-back showing.
If the Yankees pursue Simmons, who is at the top of the 2020 salary scale for the players listed at $15 million, Cashman may need to get the approval of Hal Steinbrenner, who has issued a stay below the luxury tax edict for this year.
Simmons bounced back a bit offensively in 2020, batting .297 with a .346 on-base percentage. Curiously though, he faltered in the field in categories like Defensive Runs Saved (Rdrs).
With zero being an average number According to Baseball-Reference, Simmons has soared as high as 40 in 2017 and has regularly maintained exclusive showings, but this year he slipped to -2.
Simmons is likely bored and tired playing for the perennially losing Angels, and the opportunity to move to the always contending Yankees might be enough to push him in their direction – if the Yankees are willing to invest.
Yankees: Or, Here’s Another Option
Of the others, there’s not much to talk about, and this raises yet another option for the Yankees.
That is, the Yankees can withhold from the free-agent shortstop market this year, waiting instead for next year when – get a load of this – the following players will be up for grabs:
This strategy allows the Yankees what will hopefully be a full season of fan attendance to recover what is said to be a $900 million loss of revenue due to the COVID-induced shortened season.
Next year’s crop of shortstops is also decidedly younger, making it easier and more sensible to sign someone to a multi-year contract.
Yankees: Too Bad About Didi, But…
As the inheritor of the shortstop position from Yankees icon Derek Jeter, Didi Gregorius filled the bill. At times, it even looked like he would eclipse the power numbers Jeter put up.
As a fan favorite, his loss stung his followers last year, and the idea of a reunion is too much not to ask for.
Given the Yankees stubbornness in insisting that Gleyber Torres can be an All-Star at shortstop, together with Didi’s apparent souring on the Yankees organization – there is little to do except to move on.
This will not close the book on the always interesting Sir Didi/Yankees saga, but for all practical purposes, my friends – it’s over.