Sometimes the media reports a story and sometimes the media exacerbates a story. That’s what happened in the wake of Didi Gregorius’ shoulder injury that will keep him out of the first month of the regular season. At first the injury was a matter of weeks, then months. Last week, when word got out that the Yankees were actually asking other teams for shortstop options, people began to suspect Didi was never coming back. It all turned out to be overblown.
I know this is kind of old news now, but I wanted to make sure this was mentioned and commented on before we all forget and it happens again. Citing a “source with knowledge of the team's personnel discussions,” Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media claimed that the Yankees were engaged in discussions about possibly acquiring one of Jose Iglesias from the Tigers or Zack Cozart of the Reds. Clarification was soon made by George A. King III of the New York Post, reporting that those teams were actually reaching out to the Yankees and offering their players, which makes a lot more sense. This is the type of situation where clarification from sources is needed before misinformation spreads.
Brian Cashman had already gone on record saying that the Yankees would replace Gregorius with an in-house option. While there is always going to be a certain amount of misdirection in this industry, you can usually count on Cashman speaking harsh truths. If he felt the Yankees needed to look outside the organization, he would say so, or at least give some indication that they were considering it.
The idea of the Yankees suddenly looking at external options made things far more confusing than they ever needed to be. Didi Gregorius is only expected to miss about a month of action, so it makes no sense for the team to suddenly change course and look into expensive replacement options. Zack Cozart is owed just over $5 million in 2017 before he becomes a free agent and Jose Iglesias will make just over $4 million with one more year of team control after this one.
These are not the players you use as stopgaps for a month because neither of them represent cheap replacements. They also aren’t very good, so it’s no wonder the Yankees wouldn’t want to take them on when they have absolutely nothing going for them. Both Cozart and Iglesias can be considered gifted defensive shortstops, but their bats have just never shown up. Cozart has never had a full season where he’s hit over league average. In 2016, his 91 wRC+ was a career best for a full season of work. Iglesias, meanwhile, had a 102 wRC+ back in 2013 before he missed an entire year. Since then, his offense has decreased significantly. They are each good for about 1.5-2.0 WAR a year, which is fine, but not worth the hassle for the Yankees.
New York, of course, made the right decision in saying no to these teams and their offers. The organization is still partially rebuilding, so it makes no sense to trade future valuable assets when they have a plethora of in-house options at their disposal. Whether they decide to shift Starlin Castro back to his natural position, let Ronald Torreyes play, or give Tyler Wade a chance, the Yankees will be better off.
The entire saga of confusion only lasted a couple of hours, but it was enough to get fans panicked about a dark reality that would never come to be. If you’re still worried about the team’s shortstop situation, don’t be. The Yankees have this under control. No matter who ends up filling in, fans will have something far more interesting to watch than the likes of Zack Cozart and Jose Iglesias.