Didi Gregorius’ decision last winter to bet on himself with a one-year deal looks to have been a wise one, and he’ll now head back to free agency on the heels of a .284/.339/.488 slash with 10 home runs in a full 60 games with the Phillies. He’s already been linked to the Angels, and Gregorius himself said today in an appearance on WFAN’s Moose & Maggie Show that he’d have interest in returning to the Phillies (audio link).
“If they want me back, sure,” Gregorius said. “…I can’t force or say that I have to do this, or I have to be there. At the end of the day, it’s up to them. I really enjoyed playing with the guys over there. I had a really great time.”
Gregorius’ deal with the Phils reunited him with former Yankees skipper Joe Girardi, whom the shortstop praised multiple times throughout the interview. The 30-year-old Gregorius also had nothing but positive things to say when asked about playing alongside Bryce Harper, calling him “awesome” multiple times while discussing the experience.
While Gregorius’ positive comments on his time with the Phillies and his openness to a return are surely of note, his reply when asked about a return to the Yankees is drawing considerable attention in its own right.
“I don’t think they would want me back in New York to be honest right now,” Gregorius said when asked about whether he could envision a return to the Bronx. Asked why, he expressed confidence that Gleyber Torres would rebound from his 2020 struggles and seize the shortstop job.
“I think Gleyber is the future shortstop,” said Gregorius. “It’s just the one year and to my understanding he was hurt for some of it. Once you get hurt, it’s like a step back on everything. If he gets to next year, he’s fully prepared and ready to go, I think everything should work smoothly and he will be fine.”
It was a rather rough season for 23-year-old Torres in 2020, but he’ll surely be given every opportunity to rebound next year, whether at shortstop or second base. Torres turned in a respectable .243/.356/.368 slash through 160 plate appearances, but that was a far cry from 2019’s brilliant .278/.337/.535 line and 38 homers. More glaring, perhaps, were Torres’ defensive issues (-9 DRS, -5 UZR, -4 OAA).
Despite those defensive struggles, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said last week that Torres “is our shortstop moving forward” (link via Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News). Cashman expressed confidence that Torres could improve his glovework but stopped short of declaring that he’d be the shortstop in 2021, instead stating that the organization will “continue to evaluate” its options.
Many Yankees fans have clamored for a reunion with Gregorius, who exceeded expectations in the Bronx as the successor to Derek Jeter at shortstop. However, Gregorius implied that he saw the writing on the wall toward the end of his time in New York and did not speak optimistically about a return tour in the near future.
Of course, Gregorius’ strong season makes him a potential qualifying offer candidate. That could impact his market and would leave him with the choice of returning to join Girardi, Harper and others on a one-year deal worth $18.9MM or hitting the market in search of a multi-year pact. Generally, when a player bets on himself with a one-year pact and delivers high-quality results, it’s expected that he’ll look to cash in on a longer-term deal the following winter. This offseason is anything but typical, though, and the league-wide revenue losses raise the question of whether the Phillies would risk making the offer and whether Gregorius would consider accepting.