Whenever Didi Gregorius comes home to play the Yankees as a visitor with the Phillies, he receives the warmest of receptions — in the public eye, at least. We’re not sure what goes on behind the scenes, but we hope it’s cordial, too.
Unfortunately, that’s as far as the “open arms” policy should go.
From hereon out, Gregorius should always be a welcome visitor, but never an active Yankee, especially after the 2021 season he put up, the worst of his prime years.
That hasn’t stopped some fans from being intrigued by the fit, especially considering Philadelphia is actively trying to offload his burdensome contract while the Yankees search desperately for a stopgap.
Yankee fans should always feel a warmth in their heart for Gregorius, who stepped in ably to fill Derek Jeter’s spectacular shoes, and developed into a genuine offensive threat with the hard-to-quantify “clutch gene” in 2017 and 2018 (106 and 124 OPS+ marks, 20th-place MVP finish both years).
These days, though, he’s on the wrong side of 32, and has completed nearly a full circle of regression since leaving the Bronx in a cloud of dust following a 2019 season that began late due to Tommy John surgery rehab.
The 2017 Wild Card game smash can never be erased, but there is no reason to bring this lessened version of Gregorius back, who can no longer contribute on either side of the ball — and would, in fact, be worse and just as expensive as Nick Ahmed.
Former Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius should not be a trade candidate.
The Phillies’ stench of desperation here should’ve been enough to dissuade the Yankees, but in case you need more evidence, look no further than his 2021 stat line.
Gregorius, next season, will make $14 million to follow up a campaign where he posted -0.8 WAR and a 71 OPS+, the worst full-season mark of his career. In terms of advanced offensive metrics, he was at the bottom of the league in nearly every category.
Average exit velocity? Sixth percentile. xBA? 11th percentile. xwOBA? Third. Barrel percentage? Fifth. He was a moderately speedy sprinter; everywhere else, he registered at the objective bottom.
Advanced fielding metrics are somewhat questionable and difficult to pin down. Even in Gregorius’ Yankees days, when most fans would say they considered him to be a smooth and reliable fielder, his range was continually evaluated negatively. In 2017 and 2018, he posted OAA (outs above average) totals of -10 and -9. In 2019, when the wheels really fell off post-surgery, Gregorius registered a -19 and never recovered.
In Philadelphia, he’s been a ghastly -8 during the 60-game 2020, then posted a -17 last year. We’re not sure what the eye test says, but he sounds barely playable out there.
Though there was a bit of unexplained coldness upon his exit (on both sides), Gregorius’ memorable moments in pinstripes are eternal. Although his teams never won a title, you’ll still be able to look back on them fondly whenever you’d like to.
Here. We’ll post one more, for prosperity.
For as aggressively unimpressive as Andrelton Simmons is, Gregorius would be Simmons at four times the cost — plus prospects.
For as expensive as Nick Ahmed sounds, he’d be 60% of Gregorius’ price, and markedly better.
Let the good times stay buried. Stay away.