Yankees need to re-sign Didi Gregorius right now

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: Didi Gregorius
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: Didi Gregorius /

Although it’s not a standard operating process of the Yankees to offer contract extensions before a player’s initial deal expires, Didi Gregorius’ two-homer, eight RBI performance on Tuesday is proof the organization should alter its stance.

Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius had himself a week’s worth of production in one rain-soaked game. The 28-year-old, native of Curacao went 4-for-4 with two home runs, a double and a walk, and eight RBI.

Gregorius’ eight RBI are the most ever by a Yankee in a home opener. He also became just the sixth shortstop in baseball history to accomplish the feat.

Following the Yankees’ 11-4 win over the Rays, Didi deflected much of his well-deserved praise onto his teammates, as told to Newsday.

"“For me, it’s something nice,” Gregorius said. “But it’s not about just me. It’s about the team. Without all of those guys in front of me, I couldn’t get those RBIs.”"

Just a few days ago, I offered evidence as to why Didi was primed to make his first All-Star Game this July in Washington D.C.

Getting off to a .444/.524/1.111 slash line with four doubles and two dingers in 18 at-bats proves that last year’s .287/.318/.478 slash with 25 home runs and 87 RBI was no fluke.

The recipient of two separate curtain calls on Tuesday; it wasn’t all that long ago that Didi was pelted with chants of “Der-ek Je-ter,” after he was thrown out trying to steal third base, down by a handful of runs during the 2015 home opener.

Oh, how times have changed

As of today, Didi is arguably the most critical bat in the lineup because he’s one of the few left-handed sticks capable of producing out of the cleanup spot.

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Not only does Gregorius break up the behemoths (Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez) but he also provides enough coverage that on a day when the reigning NL MVP goes 0-for-5 with five Ks, the Yankees’ offense can still put up 11 runs.

As Coley Harvey of ESPN points out, Didi was slotted No. 4 in the lineup 42 times last season. All he did was put up the most walks, doubles, homers, and RBI of anyone that hit in the same spot during those contests.

Having settled on $8.5 million in his third arbitration-eligible season, Gregorius has just one year remaining before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Although $8.5 million isn’t exactly chump change, especially when you consider Didi’s already the ninth-highest paid shortstop in the game, it still seems like a bargain when you look at some of the other, better-compensated names at the position:

  • Tim Anderson: $4.1 million per season — $25 million total
  • Paul DeJong: $4.3 million per season — $26 million total
  • Andrelton Simmons: $8.2 million per season — $58 million total
  • Jean Segura: $14 million per season — $70 million total
  • Brandon Crawford: $12.5 million per season — $70 million total
  • Elvis Andrus: $15 million per season — $120 million total
  • Troy Tulowitzki: $15.7 million per season — $157.7 million total

One of the coolest features on Spotrac.com is located under the market value section. In it, a player’s salary is adjusted according to his current statistics with a given breakdown for a new contract, including years, average yearly wage and total salary.

When it comes to Didi, Spotrac grades him worthy of a 5-year deal at $17.3 million per season, or $86.8 total, which would make him the game’s highest-paid shortstop (46th highest-paid player in MLB).

Of course, this is all contingent upon where Manny Machado signs this offseason, and if gets his wish to stay at short or is forced back to third base should he sign with a club like the Yanks.

If the Yankees decide to play it out and go to a fourth and final year of arbitration, it’s likely Gregorius’ number reaches upwards of $15 million.

It’s a risk both for the team and the player because Gregorius would then enter free agency at 30, meaning he would likely look to cash in on one final colossal contract, such as a seven-year pact.

At $17.3 million per, that would push the deal to $121.1 million in total, which could become impossible should the organization go all out for the likes of Machado or another big name free agent this winter. The presence of a prospect like Gleyber Torres at Triple-A only further complicates things.

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Inking Gregorius to a five-year extension right now is the most cost-conscious move that benefits all parties involved. By increasing the signing bonus, the club can stay well below the luxury tax threshold this season as well as saving a bit of cash on the back end.

For Didi, he gets compensated what he’s truly worth and can still sign one last semi-lucrative contract at the age of 34. It’s a win-win.