Didi Gregorius has a new home. He and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to a one-year, $14 million deal, per the Post’s Joel Sherman. Sir Didi will be reunited with his former manager Joe Girardi up the turnpike. Despite the fact that Didi apparently had multiple suitors, it doesn’t sound like the Yankees ever really had that much interest in him this year.
That’s a shame, even if his performance was not where we all wanted it to be in 2019. As a player, Gregorius took a major step forward with New York, improving in each of his first four seasons. He peak in 2018 when he hit .268/.335/.494 (124 OPS+) with 27 home runs. All told, he hit .269/.313./.446 (101 OPS+) in 660 games across five seasons in the Bronx. He was a great defender at short, as well, as anyone who watched him knows.
But Gregorius became a fan-favorite not just because of the fact that he was a productive player–it was because he always donned the pinstripes with grace and a smile. Remember, he was asked to replace an all-time great and all-time Yankee legend in Derek Jeter. That is not an easy burden to bear. I think Didi accomplished it about as well as you could reasonably expect.
On a baseball-level alone, I would have liked to see Gregorius return. We all saw the revolving door of infielders in 2019 and we all know that there will be plenty of playing time to go around. Gleyber Torres can now return to his natural position at short, for sure, but an infield rotation of Urshela/Andújar/Torres/LeMahieu/Gregorius and one of Wade/Estrada sure feels better than Urshela/Andújar/Torres/LeMahieu/Wade/Estrada to me. Oh well. This isn’t a particularly surprising move, but I will miss Didi a lot just because of how fun he was to root for. The Yankees will be less fun without Gregorius, even if they’ll almost certainly be fine on the field without him.
How could you not love him? If you think about it, Gregorius was involved in several of the most memorable moments in recent playoff memory. This past year, he drilled this grand slam in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Twins:
And in Game 5 of the 2017 ALDS, Gregorius somehow slammed two home runs off Cleveland ace Corey Kluber:
But both of these moments pale in comparison to what is clearly the most memorable moment of Gregorius’ Yankee career. That, of course, came in the 2017 AL Wild Card Game in the Bronx against the Twins. You all know the story, but it is fun to relive anyway. After falling behind 3-0 to Minnesota in the top of the first, Gregorius answered in the bottom half with this:
It was an incredible moment and probably the first real explosion the Yankee fanbase had felt since Raúl Ibanez in 2012, if not since 2009. It was the moment that put the current version of the Yankees on the map and Didi was right at the center of it.
Finally, I think I speak for all of us here when I say that I hope Didi rebounds next year as he gets far away from his surgery. I’d love to see him bounce back and have a great year with Philly and position himself to make a lot of money in free agency next year. That would be cool.