While the New York Yankees 2019 season is far from over, it’s time to ask the question about the future, Didi Gregorius or DJ LeMahieu?
The first half of the season for the New York Yankees was a pleasant surprise, despite the plethora of injuries that threatened to pull them under.
Well, look at him now.
Overcoming the impossible, the Yankees now sit at 62-33, boasting an eight-game lead in the AL East and the second-best record in the MLB. And now, they have an infield full of All-Stars and nowhere to put them come 2020.
Is it too far in advance to start thinking about how the team will appear in 2020? Absolutely. But we’re going to do it anyway.
With Didi Gregorius coming up on a potential contract extension, it’s time for the Yankees to think long and hard about a potential future without the charismatic shortstop. The likelihood of the Yankees keeping both Gregorius and LeMahieu is slim to none, so which one stays?
LeMahieu is in Year One of a two-year contract and has been worth every single penny to this point. The giant second baseman has made his presence known both in the field and at the plate. The beauty of LeMahieu is his versatility along with the impact it has on the team.
LeMahieu has spent time at the hot corner, second base and even some first base in his 86 games this season. Plus, his success at the plate cannot be ignored. LeMahieu has shed the “Coors Field” label and turned into one heck of a ballplayer in the Bronx spotlight.
Let’s be honest. His stats are absolutely ridiculous this season and show us that he’s just as good of a player outside of Colorado as he was in it. LeMahieu’s batting a cool .444 with runners in scoring position and is 9-for-12 so far this season with the bases loaded. Basically, any clutch situation calls for a LeMahieu at-bat.
Didi Gregorius, on the other hand, has only appeared in 27 games this season but has returned to his spectacular defensive ways after tearing his UCL in his right elbow during the 2018 ALDS. No stranger to shortstop in the Bronx, Gregorius has made that position his home.
At the plate, Gregorius is finally starting to rediscover his stroke, launching a grand slam against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night and adding some impressive at-bats during Thursday’s doubleheader.
Not only that, but Gregorius is a staple in the Yankees clubhouse. His infectious smile and social media prowess have made him easily one of the most likable Yankees in a long time.
But why not both? Can’t the Yankees keep both talented players on their roster? The answer is, probably, no.
The Yankees still have Gleyber Torres, yet another talented infielder who can play both second base and shortstop. They have Luke Voit to man first base and they have Miguel Andujar waiting in the wings to return from his unfortunate injury this past season.
When it comes down to it, the odd man out seems to be Gregorius. If you’re looking at production, while LeMahieu is older by just two years, he has had several consistent years both defensively and offensively. To keep both would be an absolute treasure but it doesn’t seem like the money will be there, especially with Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez preparing to get paid.
Gregorius would be an absolute treat to have on the field but with LeMahieu’s talent and versatility, he has to be the winner here. Say goodbye to emojis and spirited dugout handshakes because Gregorius’ days in the Bronx might just be numbered.
While LeMahieu’s talents are not at shortstop, it seems silly to compare the two. With Gregorius coming up for an extension this offseason, it’s the opportunity to either let him walk or ink him up for the near future. Besides, if Gregorius does walk, Torres will be shifted over to shortstop, his natural position, in favor of LeMahieu holding down second base.
Do the Yankees want to part with Gregorius? Absolutely not. He took over for Derek Jeter in a way that nobody anticipated and the entire city of New York fell in love. But between him and LeMahieu, who gets to stay?
It might just be the mild-mannered utility player who has carried the team for this entire season, and not just with runners in scoring position.
Sorry, Didi. It doesn’t sound like pinstripes are in the cards for the future.