The New York Yankees have found their replacement for Derek Jeter, and no it’s not Troy Tulowitzki.
They acquired 24-year old Didi Gregorious from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade that saw them send starting pitcher Shane Green to the Tigers.
If you take an initial look at Gregorious’ numbers, they don’t blow you away, but before you jump on him, just remember, he’s had only 647 at-bats in the majors, which is basically less than a full season’s worth. So before we anoint him a poor hitter, let’s see him play a full year first.
The Yankees needed a replacement for Derek Jeter, and those shoes obviously will not be easy to fill. But the fact that there are so few good shortstops out there, dictate why they made this move. Tulowitzki would have been the flashy move, but he costs way too much and comes with a lot of baggage. There was also no guarantee the Cubs would have parted ways with Starlin Castro, and even if they did, the asking price would’ve been through the roof. The Yankees decided to roll the dice on a 24-year old with strong upside who’s under team control till 2019. He will be also making under a million dollars this season, which is a nice luxury for a Yankees’ team that is looking to be more cost conscious moving forward.
So what exactly are the Yankees getting?
Gregorious boasted a slash line of .226/.290/.653 in 2014 with six home runs and 27 rbi in just 270 at-bats this past season. He was hindered when the D’backs called up Chris Owings to platoon at short with him. He could just never get into a rhythm, even when Owings hurt his shoulder late in the year.
Obviously looking at Gregorious’ numbers from afar they don’t seem impressive in the slightest, but if you look a little closer you will see that the upside is most certainly there. Mark Simon of ESPN, pointed out that Gregorious may have had some bad luck last year. According to an advanced scouting tool that Major League clubs use, Gregorious had a very high “hard-hit rate” in 2014, which is exactly what it sounds like, how hard a player hits the ball when he is up.
Gregorious hit the ball hard 20.4 percent of the time, which is something that only 33 other players with at least 250 at-bats did in 2014. So as you can see, the .226 batting average may be a little misleading. Gregorious is also a lefty that will play 81 games at Yankee stadium this season (and many more to come), he should easily eclipse a .250 batting average, and who knows, maybe some of those aforementioned hard hit balls turn into home runs for him, courtesy of the short porch.
Any offense the Yankees get from Gregorious is just a bonus however, because they brought him here for his defense. He is said to make some extremely spectacular plays at short. He will also be taking over for Derek Jeter, whom we know was not the most fleet-of-foot in his later years playing the position. The Yankees ranked dead last in defensive runs saved the past 2 seasons with a (-35). The philosophy for New York moving forward seems to be, if we can’t score a lot of runs, at least we can try and prevent them. Inking reliever Andrew Miller to a four-year deal backs that theory up as well.
The days of the Yankees spending huge money on premium hitters may be coming to an end. As it appears they are making an attempt to grow and develop players from their own farm system.
All in all, the Yankees did very well in this trade. Acquiring a 24-year old shortstop who hasn’t scratched the surface, as far as talent is concerned, is a very nice luxury to have. They didn’t have to give up too much either, Shane Greene had a nice year last year, but he’s a 26-year old who throws in the low 90s, and may never amount to anything more than a fourth starter.
What the Yankees did here, was stock up on youth, which is a great strategy in baseball, or any sport for that matter. And if they let 23-year old rookie phenom, Robert Refsynder, man second base this season, their middle infield will be infused with young and exciting talent, something they haven’t had coincidentally since the late 90s, or Derek Jeter’s early years.
Funny how everything comes full circle.
Photo: CBS Sports