Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius is having quite an interesting year, and as such, his future with the club is becoming cloudy.
Gregorius, 28, shot out of the gate with an amazing April in which he hit .327 with a .421 on-base percentage and .735 slugging percentage. That was good for a whopping 216 OPS+. Gregorius also slammed 10 home runs and drove in 30 runs.
After posting a career-best season in 2017, it seemed that Gregorius was establishing himself as one of the premier shortstops in the game.
No one expected Gregorius to maintain the furious pace, however, the drop off that ensued was as exceptionally poor as the ascension he appeared to have made. Gregorius slashed .149/.184/.213 in May, which equates to a ridiculous 10 OPS+. His newfound patience displayed in April (18 walks in 121 plate appearances) went by the wayside, drawing just four walks in 98 plate appearances.
Since June 1, Gregorius has leveled off to a reasonable .287/.331/.434 slash line. Overall, he sports a 109 OPS+ this season which is a tick above the 106 measure he posted in 2017. The fluctuations have steered talk of a contract extension for Gregorius to wondering if the Yankees will allow him to reach free agency after next season, or even more surprising, try to trade him in the offseason or near next year's trade deadline.
While I do not suspect Gregorius is on the move (though he could certainly help bring the starting pitcher the Yankees need), there are at least two scenarios in which the Yankees could consider trading their shortstop before he hits the open market.
First, Gleyber Torres has demonstrated he is more than ready to be a star in the big leagues. Despite showing he's becoming more and more acclimated to second base, his value sky rockets as a shortstop, which is his natural position. The Yankees could surely let this situation ride out, leaving Gregorius at shortstop through 2019, and then shift Torres to the position for the 2020 season.
Another situation developing is the Yankees' increased interest in Manny Machado. According to reports Wednesday, the Yankees made a "strong offer" for the Orioles' shortstop. Machado might be insistent that he play shortstop, however, he doesn't have much say in his position as a traded player.
But why make the player upset if they'll be relinquishing top prospects to acquire his services? Even if the Yankees and Orioles do not come to an agreement, Machado's free agency is upon us and New York will surely be in the mix.
Personally, I'm having a difficult time seeing a Machado trade to the Yankees develop especially playing as a shortstop. No matter how much Machado wants to play the position, he's a detriment in the field (-20 defensive runs saved). Further, when the dust settles on 2018, Machado will play for whoever pays him the most money, and if it is at third base, I bet he'd acquiesce. That seems to make Gregorius' position safe where it concerns Machado.
On the flip side, it wouldn't take too much convincing if a starting pitcher came to the front of the line in the offseason, and Gregorius was among the players desired in the package. In my opinion, having Torres sitting on the roster makes trading Gregorius much easier to swallow.
The way I see it, Gregorius is a solid shortstop that had an elite month to open the season, which made extension talk a hot topic. The truth is, Gregorius would enter the first year of a free agent contract as a 30-year-old, and those type of players are not what teams are building around any longer. Moreover, with a player like Torres being 23 years old in 2020, why would the Yanks invest long term in Gregorius?
Extension chatter for Gregorius was fun, but the reality is the Yankees' shortstop's time with the club is more likely to come to an end no later than the end of next season, and an earlier parting of ways wouldn't be all that shocking.