The New York Yankees’ 2018 campaign, which was filled with expectations with the strong young core, strong bullpen and the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, has come to an unfortunate ending this past week. As if having their season come to an end by the hands of their rivals was not sobering enough, the Yankees received troubling news that shortstop Didi Gregorius will undergo Tommy John Surgery. Didi is fresh off a career high 27-homeruns and .829 OPS creating quite the hole in the Yankee lineup. He was also ranked fourth on the Yankees in WAR (4.2).
The Yankees do believe he will be back sometime during the summer of next season meaning they are going to need to at least figure out a solution for shortstop for half of the season. This dilemma may go beyond just merely finding a replacement for three months as Didi will also be entering his free agent year. So perhaps the Yankees could sign or trade for someone to not only fill in for Gregorius for three months, but also be the long-term answer going forward.
In terms of a short-term fix, until Didi is ready to play again in 2019, the Yankees could always pick-up a middle-infielder for a low price. They could always rotate Gleyber Torres to shortstop if they find a better deal on someone who primarily plays second base. Middle-infielders that can be on the free agent market includes names such as Manny Machado, DJ LeMahieu and Jed Lowrie. Aside from Lowrie, who will be entering his 35 season, these names will likely not land with the Yankees if they choose to have a future with Gregorius beyond 2019.
In terms of his future with the pinstripes, realistically speaking, there really is not a point to cut ties and move on. He came off arguably the best season of his career and will be turning 29 years old this offseason. With Gregorius entering his free agent season and missing the first half the stock for him on the trade market would be dangerously low. The smart move would be to not trade him. With that being said, that would rule out acquiring a big name such as Machado completely.
What the Yankees would likely do is acquire someone more under the radar for a one-year contract to play second or shortstop until Gregorius returns. We will likely see someone who is a Neil Walker-type player filling his spot. Had Walker performed better during the regular season with the Yankees, it would be an easy decision to resign him for another year to do that.
When it is all said and done, Didi Gregorius is not done with the Yankees. He will return to the field in pinstripes next year. As for 2020; it is too early to look that far ahead to see what they will do. For instance, no one would have guessed that Greg Bird would not be on the 2018 postseason roster. It is just too difficult to tell sometimes.