The Manny Machado saga is finally over. We now know that he’s taking his talents to San Diego where he’s banking on the Padres’ up-and-coming talent while still being compensated fairly. Yes, this is fair compensation for talent like Machado’s. There are plenty of Yankees fans that are rejoicing because a superstar isn’t joining their favorite team, like this kid.
Some say he’s cute, I say he’s wrong. Still, he’s part of a vocal sector of fans that for various reasons didn’t want the younger superstar on their team. As the comments-appointed President of the “Manny Pack,” I’ve never hidden the fact that I was firmly entrenched in Camp I Want Good Players on my Team. The disappointment from the extremely expected action of him signing elsewhere is high. There is one potential bright spot, though.
One of my—and literally every fan’s—favorite current Yankees is Didi Gregorius. I mean it has to be against the rules to like the Yankees and dislike Didi, right? Between his slick defense, his clutch hitting, his leadership, his smile, and his victory tweets, there’s nothing to dislike about him. It’s going to be awful going most, if not all, of 2019 without him on the field.
If he ends up missing the whole year, it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility that we’ve seen his last game in pinstripes. He’ll be a free agent next winter and is in line for big bucks after truly establishing himself in his Yankee tenure so far.
With Machado going to another team, ensuring Gregorius stays around becomes more of a necessity than a luxury. If the Yankees signed Machado right now, he could’ve played short while Didi was out but then could’ve taken over shortstop starting next year if they didn’t want to pay both players. Now, they don’t have much of a choice.
They do still have other options if they choose not to commit to Gregorius. They could slide Gleyber Torres back to shortstop, his natural position, after two-plus years of having him focus on second base and then let DJ LeMahieu man second base for next year at least. That plan sounds awful, because what happens after that?
When Derek Jeter finally retired he left enormous shoes to fill. Gregorius not only filled those shoes, but he thrived in a situation where many would falter. He didn’t worry about Jeter’s 2hadow, he was just himself and it was exactly what Yankees fans needed. Letting him walk would put whoever had to come in after him in an almost-tougher spot. It’s obviously harder being the guy after a legend, but being the guy after the guy who came after a legend and won over fans’ hearts can’t be an easy task.
The easiest, and quite frankly best solution would be to lock up Gregorius long-term to be the Yankee shortstop and let Torres take second base as his own. There’s no need to play this positional back and forth or to overthink it.
The only question that rises is whether or not the Yankees will fork over the cash to make sure Gregorius stays in pinstripes for the long-haul. Yes, I know, they’re not “cheap” or whatever. It’s just that the Phillies said they’d spend stupidly, but the Yankees are the ones who did it this winter.
Sure, the bullpen is great (again) and they spent $24 million on their never-been-a-utility-player utility player and J.A. Happ will be around for three years. So yes, they are spending. It’s just not the best use of their financial strength.
The Yankees are totally content with being “good enough” and even if they let Gregorius walk, they’ll still be good enough to compete. It’s wouldn’t be an illusion, either, because the competition around them is so weak. When it’s Didi Gregorius’ turn to get a deal, he has to hope that the team won’t simply be content with being “good enough.”
He’s obviously not going to cost Manny Machado or Bryce Harper money so that does bode well for him, but he will require a significant financial commitment. Even if he’s coming off an injury, when healthy he’s one of the best shortstops in the game on both sides of the ball. Still though, I could see the Yankees balking at his asking price, photoshopping his face in a Yankee uniform (yes, I know they wouldn’t need to do that) and then talking wonders about Tyler Wade’s potential.
It’s anybody’s guess what the Yankees will actually do. I’m not even hopeful they’ll spend on Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez when that time comes. For now, though, we’ll take this one step at a time and hope they shell out for Didi Gregorius next year (or now). If there’s one positive thing to take away from the lack of interest in Manny Machado, it just now gives Didi Gregorius’ future with the Yankees a better chance.
If he and the team do eventually work out a long-term deal, I just hope we’ll finally get a Didi Victory Tweet celebrating him from the man himself.