Didi Gregorius has been handed the daunting task of replacing Derek Jeter as the New York Yankees’ shortstop. There was no clear cut answer to the question of who would fill that position heading into the 2014 offseason. Cashman and the Yankees elected to pass over internal options, deciding to take part in a three-way trade that sent Shane Greene to the Detroit Tigers and brought Didi Gregorius from the desert to the Bronx. Many questioned whether Didi had what it took to be a regular, let alone replace Derek Jeter. Needless to say, Gregorius went on to have a very good 2015 campaign and helped Yankee fans move on from the Derek Jeter era.
– Didi Gregorious is still only twenty-five years old and does not turn twenty-six until the middle of February. With the bulk of their position players north of thirty, he provides the Yankees with youth at the shortstop position.
– He is not eligible to become a free agent until 2020, giving the Yankees a reasonably cheap option for the next few seasons.
– He posted a 1.9 fWAR over his first 191 games, but managed to post a 3.1 fWAR in his first season with the Yankees in 2015. A lot of the reason is that Didi had the seventh highest defensive WAR among all shortstops and the second highest among AL shortstops. Moreover, his 3.1 fWAR was the seventh highest among all shortstops and third highest among AL shortstops.
– According to FanGraphs, Didi’s play was worth $24.7 million – approximately $8 million per win, according to the fWAR. He made a little over $550,000 thousand last season. Not a bad deal if you are the Yankees.
– Baseball Reference lists Orlando Cabrera as the most similar player to Didi through age twenty-five season. Cabrera had a very respectable fourteen-year career in the majors – earning two Gold Gloves over that time.
– Didi’s offense is modest – at best – but he still has room to grow in the batters box. Additionally, shortstop is one of the most important positions in baseball, which leads teams to emphasize defense. Didi certainly provides elite defense, which helps negate his average to below-average offense. If he can improve his offensive game, Didi has the potential to turn into a real weapon for the Yankees for years to come.
With the arrival of Starlin Castro, the Yankees hope that they have created a dynamic double play combo. Didi appears motivated to improve upon every aspect of his game and the Yankees and their fans can only hope that he continues to grow into the player they believe he can become. He certainly seems to be working hard to reach the next level.
Oh, by the way, he has been knighted, so his real name is Sir Didi Gregorius. Seems like he belongs in the bright lights of New York. He is a crucial piece to the Yankees future plans as they continue to get younger, while still competing at a high-level every game. The Yankees and their fans will never forget Derek Jeter, but Didi Gregorius has helped make the transition as smooth as possible.