For the first time in quite a long time, the 2022 New York Yankees‘ vibes are quite noxious. Though their record sits at 70-36, they’ve scuffled as a 21-20 team for a month and a half, and have recently been bamboozled by both the Astros and Mets, mixing in some walk-off Red Sox losses for good measure.
Add in a shocking Jordan Montgomery trade without a replacement lined up, and “treading water” just became “floating downstream”. You know what wouldn’t help halt a vibe shift, though? Importing a once-upon-a-time fan favorite whose performance has declined, and who contributed to some issues, rather than alleviated them, on his way out of town in 2019.
Didi Gregorius was an elite Yankees postseason folk hero in 2017 after helping the Bombers through the relative dark ages of 2015 and 2016. When he first arrived as a 25-year-old in ’15, he was a well-below-average hitter whose defense didn’t quite measure up to his reputation, either. By ’17, he was a 106 OPS+ centerpiece of an upstart playoff team. 2018? He built upon that campaign with a 124 OPS+ season and was in line for a massive payday — until he tore his UCL midway through the ALDS against the Red Sox.
The next season? His offense dipped (87 OPS+) and he roused rabble on his way out of town, which felt uncharacteristic, as rumors of his discontent spread after a few curt interviews. Gregorius tweeted dissatisfaction with Dave Dombrowski’s Phillies regime in due time, too, the team that signed him after that unfortunate ’19 low point.
Bottom line, Gregorius hit free agency at the worst possible time, and though he earned a multi-year deal during the shortened 2020, he’s regressed significantly since fans were allowed back inside stadiums, both offensively and defensively.
He was released on Thursday by Philadelphia, and despite Marwin Gonzalez’s ineffectiveness, Gregorius is unlikely to even approach his level if handed the shortstop role with the Yankees moving forward.
No thank you to a great Yank.
Yankees don’t need to touch Didi Gregorius after Phillies release
Gregorius’ 60 OPS+ in 214 at-bats this season make Joey Gallo look like Joe DiMaggio. Add in the frustration and friction from the last time he was in pinstripes, and both sides are better off leaving his Yankees legacy intact.
Remember the grand slam against the Twins in the 2019 ALDS? That was great. Why taint that? Even though it was already tainted by his near-miss blast against Gerrit Cole in the ALCS a few days later.
According to Brian Cashman’s WFAN appearance Thursday afternoon, the team plans to evaluate any and all potential releases, considering without a late-August deadline, that’s the only way new names hit the market these days.
Of course, Cashman was also deflecting and being kind to Didi. He might examine upgrades from Dinelson Lamet to Jackie Bradley Jr. He doesn’t have to act unless the perfect storm strikes.
Gregorius went from much-maligned stopgap in the Bronx (IKF-style) to a postseason stalwart to a fallen star.
He’s already been through the ringer and stopped at every portion of the ride. At this point, he offers the Yankees very little other than a link to the recent past.