If you’ve never heard of Didi Gregorius before, you’re going to hear an awful lot about him now because it appears he will be replacing Derek Jeter at shorstop for the New York Yankees.
The Yankees have reportedly concluded a three way trade between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Detroit Tigers. The Yankees dealt pitcher Shane Greene to the Tigers while the Tigers traded pitcher Robbie Ray to the D’Backs who in turn deal Gregorius to the Yankees.
Greene had a decent rookie season with the Yankees going 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA in 14 starts, striking out 81 batters in 78 2/3 innings. With the impending departure of Max Scherzer and possibly David Price and Rick Porcello, Greene could become a mainstay in the Tigers rotation for years to come. Ditto for Ray with the D’Backs, who struggled with 1-4 record and a 8.16 ERA in half a dozen starts with the Tigers in 2014. Ray had been acquired by Detroit when they dealt Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals a year ago.
But the spotlight is clearly on Gregorius. Born in Amsterdam, Gregorius signed as an amateur free agent with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007 and made his big league debut with the Reds late in the 2012 season. Prior to the 2013, the Reds dealt Gregorius to the D’Backs in a three way deal which included the Cleveland Indians. In 2013, Gregorius played 103 games with Arizona hitting .252 with 7 HR and 28 RBI. However, Gregorius slumped to .226 with 6 HR and 27 RBI over 80 games in 2014 and would spend part of the season at Triple-AAA Reno. Scouts have always liked Gregorius’ bat, but his defense needs work and a lot of it.
Gregorius is a considerably cheaper option than Colorado Rockies superstar Troy Tulowitzki. In 2014, Tulo made $16 million this season and is due to make $20 million in 2015. Meanwhile, Gregorius made just north of $500,000 in 2014. But with all the money the Yankees are shelling out to A-Rod, Sabathia, Teixeira and Tanaka, they weren’t in a position to spend big at short.
Although I think Gregorius is tremendously talented and, not yet 25, has time to refine his skills. But Yankee Stadium isn’t the best place for the on the job training. I’m just not sure he’s ready for prime time and it don’t get more prime time than playing shorstop for the New York Yankees. Didi Gregorius has some big shoes to fill. The question is can he fill his own?