The Yankees front office isn’t going to take time off during the All-Star Break. They should be working on a new contract for Didi Gregorius.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has gone on the record with his desire to keep Didi Gregorius in pinstripes for years to come on several occasions. This All-Star Break provides New York’s front office with a terrific opportunity to put their money with their leader’s mouth is.
The 29-year-old shortstop is currently making $11.75 million in the last year of his current contract. That means he’s ticketed to hit free agency next winter if the Yankees don’t find a way to lock him up before then. Given the obvious issues tied to negotiating with a player during the regular season, it makes a lot of sense for the Yankees to get this piece of business done during the All-Star break.
Last winter Cashman insisted that Gregorius’ Tommy John injury wouldn’t be a significant factor in his future with the team. Even if that was a bit of an overstatement, the way Gregorius has played this season after his return from the Injured List should quell all concerns about his health.
He may have started a little slow after getting back into Aaron Boone’s lineup, but he’s playing at a high level as the Yankees end the first half of their campaign. He’s only been back for 21 games, but he already looks very comfortable at the plate. His slash line of .287/.311/.448 shows his offensive output shouldn’t be a concern moving forward. The fact that his numbers have been trending in the right direction heading into the break should also allow the Yankees front office to feel good about where Gregorius stands with his bat.
His defensive play has arguably been even better. There’s nothing about the way he’s played at shortstop to indicate he missed significant time due to a serious injury. If his arm has lost any juice, it’s been impossible to discern by his play on the diamond. Gregorius remains one of the better defensive shortstops in the game.
Add it all up and the only real cause for concern the Yankees should have about Gregorius is his age. He’ll be 30 years old next season which means the team would potentially be inking him to a contract that will take him well past his prime. There’s a long list of middle infielders who’ve seen sharp declines as they start to advance into their 30s. The Yankees have every right to be conservative when it comes to the length of Gregorius’ next deal.
That doesn’t mean Cashman and company should even consider letting him walk. The right move would be to offer Gregorius a three- or four-year contract that will allow him to be one of the highest-paid shortstops in MLB. Something around $15 million per season would represent fair value. That would allow Gregorius to slot in as the third-highest paid player at his position based on current salaries.
The Yankees are currently enjoying a terrific 2019 season, but it’s time for the front office to step up and take an important step to secure the franchise’s future. Signing Gregorius to a new contract should be Cashman’s top priority over the next week.