Yankees must decide if Didi Gregorius is worth a qualifying offer


The Yankees will have several important decisions to make regarding their roster this offseason. And right up at the top is whether or not to extend a $17.8 million qualifying offer to Didi Gregorius.

Since coming over from Arizona is 2015, to pick up the mantle left over from Derek Jeter, shortstop Didi Gregorius has exceeded all expectations for the Yankees. At least until the 2019 season.

However, it’s mostly understandable that Gregorius wasn’t his usual self after playing in 82 regular-season games following recovering from Tommy John surgery. He slashed .238/.276/.441 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs across 324 at-bats.

Although Didi won’t make anyone forget about The Captain anytime soon, had he played all of 2019, and achieved most of his career averages, there’s little doubt the Yanks wouldn’t have splashed the $17.8 million qualifying offer on the 29-year-old free-agent-to-be.

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Yes, his career .264/.313/.429 slash line leaves room for improvement; however, you’re paying Sir Didi for his left-handed power bat that averages 21 homers and 79 RBIs as a middle-infielder.

Considering just one season ago Gregorius set career-highs in OPS (.829) and home runs (27) — while driving in 86 runs, striking out only 69 times in 504 at-bats and committed just six errors in 1149.1 innings (.987 fielding percentage), it’s understandable if someone offers Didi a longterm contract — it just may not be the Yankees.

In his final year of arbitration, the Yanks agreed to $11.75 million — and that was knowing darn well he’d miss a good chunk of this season.

But that was before Gleyber Torres proved he could be the lynchpin of an explosive Bomber offense while manning his natural position of shortstop, D.J. LeMahieu became an MVP candidate, and Gio Urshela proved to be the best 25k general manager Brian Cashman ever spent.

With 2018 Rookie of the Year runner-up Miguel Andujar still a part of the puzzle, the infield is crowded — and that’s before you factor in some combination of Luke Voit, Greg Bird or Mike Ford at first base.

According to Sportrac, Gregorius’ base calculated value, when compared to other 29-year-olds and what they signed for — and Didi’s recent regression, a potential contract still works out to be worth, on average, $13.8 million.

While that’s below the one-year qualifying offer, Sportrac estimates Gregorius could garner a six-year deal, totaling $83.3 million — although his market value is 3-years, $40.4 million. Either way, that’s still an awful lot of money for a ball club that proved in a six-game ALCS that they need at least one front line starting pitcher. 

Therefore, if you take what Gregorius is worth, plus whatever remains from potentially letting Dellin Betances, Edwin Encarnacion and maybe even Aroldis Chapman, walk — the Yanks could find themselves with a very lucrative offer to free agents Gerrit Cole, or Stephen Strasburg (should he opt-out).

To me, it’s simple, following the outcome of the 2019 season, Didi Gregorius is expendable. As good as he was for four full seasons, even one-year at $17.8 million seems excessive, when you look at the Yankees’ needs.

And although he looked to turn a corner in the ALDS versus Minnesota, going 4-for-10 with one long ball and six RBIs — he scuffled when it mattered most in the ALCS — going 5-for-23 with zero homers or RBIs.

Perhaps after turning down the QO, should Didi ultimately find a barren market, due to the associated draft pick compensation, maybe he’d come back to New York on a lower AAV for one season — as to further boost his stock. But again, Didi in 2020 is a luxury.

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And of course, there’s always the possibility the Yanks don’t bother extending the QO. That would certainly clear things up in a hurry.