I was on my drive to drop my car off for an oil change. I was listening in to the Boone/Cashman press conference and I was preparing to write a little blog about Patrick Corbin until Jason Zillo jumped in from the top rope with the BOMBSHELL that Didi Gregorius will require Tommy John Surgery forty (40) minutes into listening to Boone.
My grandma reads some of these posts so I’m going to warn her that I’m about to use some inappropriate language, in case this is one of the posts that she does read:
This news was kind of a kick in the genitals, huh?
These end-of-the-year press conferences always have announcements like this where one or two guys are going to have a surgery we might not have expected. Usually, it’s something like “Reliever X is going to have a minor ankle procedure” or something like that. I fully expected an announcement that Didi was going to have surgery on that wrist he injured on the Aaron Hicks walk-off to clinch a playoff spot. I thought maybe CC would be having something done, which they also announced. However, I didn’t expect to hear TOMMY JOHN surgery for Didi Gregorius. That sucks.
So it sounds like Didi came over from the Diamondbacks with a partial tear of the UCL that everyone in the front office just kind of forgot about entirely after a while? Cashman and Co. say that Didi officially “hurt” the elbow on one of the plays at Fenway where he went into the outfield. He powered through it and played the rest of the series.
Now, he will have the surgery sometime next week. The Yankees expect him to be a significant contributor for the team in 2019. What that means, exactly? I don’t know. If he’s back by roughly the all-star break, then I would consider ourselves pretty lucky. As a shortstop who also hits left-handed, injuring his throwing and leading elbow is not good. He’s not a pitcher, though, so he shouldn’t be out for the whole season like a pitcher might, with how precisely they need to be able to throw the ball.
So now the attention shifts to how the Yankees will go about replacing Didi. They likely need to prepare as if he’s out for the whole year. I’m, again, not sure what that means, exactly.
Everyone immediately goes to the Manny Machado situation. I’ll give that its own post at some point, but it’s important to touch on it now, so here’s what I think about Machado.
I don’t think Machado should be a shortstop. He’s not good at it. If the Yanks were to sign him, I want him to play third, and, with a player like Machado, you sign that guy and figure out what to do with Miguel Andujar later. Machado has been an elite defensive third baseman. Shortstop? Not so much.
For what it’s worth, I am on board with signing Machado for third and moving Andujar to a new position. Miggy’s bat is legitimately elite, but his glove is legitimately bad. I think he can become acceptable defensively, but that may be easier at a different position. People keep throwing out first base, but I’m, personally, more in favor of moving him to left field, depending on how the rest of the roster seems to take shape. Andujar has an elite throwing arm and most of his issues defensively seem to be footwork/reaction time-based. Moving him away from the batter (and not to the position that is involved in the most plays at first) would help him, I think.
Anyway, the Didi injury gives them time to let Machado play shortstop for half a season- if he’s going to be a baby about it, and see what improvements they get from Andujar at third before deciding if they need some sort of LF-DH-RF rotation between Andujar, Giancarlo Stanton, and Aaron Judge. They can shift Manny to third when Didi returns and, with his offense, I can stomach Machado’s defensive ineptitude at shortstop for half a season.
The other obvious option, that doesn’t involve spending approximately $400M, would be to move Gleyber Torres, a natural shortstop, over to short from second and bringing in someone to play second base. Gleyber slid over to short a decent amount in 2018, and they are clearly comfortable with him at shortstop.
I don’t know the complete second base landscape, but the most obvious fits are bringing back Disco Neil Walker or signing Daniel Murphy. Murphy proved to be next to unplayable on defense this year, and Walker is far from elite with the glove at this point in his career, but Neil has familiarity with the organization and Murphy can still hit a bit. I think I’d prefer bringing back Neil of these two, but, again, I haven’t looked at the full landscape.
The Yanks will also be looking to bring in left-handed hitting. That’s no secret. They’re a very righty-heavy team that plays its own games in a stadium that is more advantageous to lefties, so I expect a lefty bat to be added to the squad, especially after losing Didi.
I’ve already seen rumblings on Twitter of interest in Michael Brantley and Marwin Gonzalez. I suppose Gonzalez just became a much more viable option since he can play every position in the field. I’m not against such a pursuit if it becomes a real possibility.
This will be far from the last time we explore how to fill in for Didi. We’ll be all over the situation this offseason here at Talkin’ Yanks.