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Yankees 2015 Roster Report Card: Didi Gregorius

Gregorius struggled early, but ended the season as one of the better shortstops in the league.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: B+

2015 Statistics: 155 G, .265/.318/.370, 9 HR, 56 RBI, 5 SB, 578 PA

2016 Contract Status: Arbitration Eligible

Didi Gregorius signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007 and worked his way through their minor league system until the end of the 2012 season, when he was part of a three-team trade that sent him to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Gregorius spent most of the 2013 season in the majors where he hit .252/.332/.373 as an injury replacement for Aaron Hill. In 2014, he competed for the Diamondbacks' starting shortstop position, but lost the job to Chris Owings. Instead, Gregorius was sent to Triple-A where he stayed until June when he was called up as an injury replacement once again. He split time with Owings for the rest of the season and slashed .226/.290/.363 through 299 plate appearances. It looked like the Diamondbacks had a logjam at shortstop since they appeared to favor Owings over Gregorius. The fact that the Yankees needed a shortstop after Derek Jeter's departure set up a convenient three-team trade that sent Gregorius to the Yankees and Shane Greene to the Tigers over the offseason.

Naturally, the media spent weeks discussing how difficult it would be for Gregorius to fill Jeter's shoes which was ridiculous. The Yankees didn't have anyone waiting in the wings in the farm system, and the free agent market didn't have very many realistic or good options. When the Yankees traded for Gregorius, they ended up with a young player who is years away from free agency. He hadn't even played a full season in the majors prior to 2015, so there was the hope that his bat could still develop. Gregorius may not ever hit the ball like Jeter did in his prime, but he showed that he can be a decent shortstop.

April .206 .261 .238
May .232 .300 .341
June .258 .293 .366
July .317 .360 .427
August .310 .358 .410
.248 .319 .390

In April, Gregorius was one of many black holes in the Yankees' lineup and he made quite a few fielding errors, as well as blunders on the base paths. Fortunately, Gregorius showed a great deal of improvement from May forward. He even hit nine home runs, which tied his career-high. Of the 20 shortstops with 500 or more plate appearances this season, Gregorius had the 9th best wRC+ (89) and came in 4th in terms of fWAR (3.1). Gregorius also committed less errors as the season went on. Although he made 13 total errors during the season, he was only charged with four after the All-Star break. His first year with the Yankees definitely got off to a rocky start, but he finished the season as one of the better shortstops in the league.

Gregorius isn't scheduled to become a free agent until 2020, so he could be the Yankees' shortstop for the next few years. There isn't anyone in the farm system who seems close to major league ready, either. It appears that Brendan Ryan will serve as his backup at shortstop next season, since he has a mutual option on his contract, but that hasn't been officially decided yet. If not, the Yankees may need to pick up a backup during the offseason. Since Gregorius struggled so much when the season started, it's hard to predict how he will play next year, but hopefully he will show up in second-half form.