Didi Gregorius Traded To New York

But not to the Mets.

The New York Yankees have completed a three-team deal to acquire shortstop Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Bronx Bombers send pitcher Shane Greene to the Detroit Tigers, and Detroit sends pitcher Robbie Ray and infield prospect Domingo Leyba to Arizona.

According to various reports, there had been some interest from the Mets in Gregorius, but the Snakes were insisting on Noah Syndergaard. Though I like Gregorius’ glove, his bat is suspect — he hit only .229 in a half-season of MLB service last year. He has excellent range and a rifle arm, though, there’s a hint of concern that he’ll one day require Tommy John surgery — Gregorius strained his ulnar collateral ligament early in 2013.

Should the Mets have traded Syndegaard for Gregorius? I’m not sure, as, on paper, Gregorius would appear to be only a better-fielding version of Ruben Tejada. However, Gregorius did hit .310 with a .389 OBP and .836 OPS in 57 AAA games last year. Granted, those numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt, as he posted them in the hitter-happy PCL.

Most Mets fans likely think I’m nuts to even consider — for a half-second — the idea of trading Syndegaard for a good-field, no-hit shortstop. But then again, I’m not convinced that Syndegaard is the next Nolan Ryan — which seems to be the opinion of many Mets fans. Further, I can see that pitching is not nearly as valued today as it was a few years ago, while the value of young position players has skyrocketed. You may think the Mets would have been crazy to trade Noah Syndergaard for Gregorius, but guess what? The Yankees sent away a pretty good young starter in Shane Greene in order to bring back Gregorius. Granted, Greene is not a future Cy Young winner, but at age 25, he DID post a very respectable 3.78 ERA through 14 starts, competing in the AL East. Not too shabby. You might consider him a younger version of Dillon Gee — and that’s what it took to get a 24-year-old who appears to have the potential to play stellar defense at shortstop, but may be a #8 or #9 hitter. If the Mets want to acquire a shortstop who is a little bit better than their current options, that’s the market rate. However, what they’re willing to offer — veteran starters who have iffy health — isn’t what most teams are trying to get in return for their top young position players.

While Gregorius is off the table, that doesn’t mean the Mets can’t still make a deal with Arizona. The D’Backs still have Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed, and Cliff Pennington. After trading Gregorius, it would seem to me that Owings will be the starter in Arizona, with Pennington as the back-up, and maybe Ahmed could be available. Pennington is entering the final year of his contract, so I don’t know that the Mets would be interested, and further, the noise from Arizona is that they like Pennington and plan to keep him around. Ahmed is similar to Gregorius — an excellent fielder, but not much bat. I don’t think he’d cost Syndegaard, mainly because he has very little MLB experience and his minor league numbers do not suggest he’ll be an offensive success (whereas Gregorius did succeed at the MLB level in the first half of 2013).

What’s your thought? Do you care one way or the other about Gregorius? Answer in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Since68 December 5, 2014 at 1:59 pm
    The game hasn’t changed. Pitching is still the key, no matter how GMs or writers value them nowadays. In my opinion the Yankees overplayed for Didi because they were in a weak bargaining position. It won’t matter though, they will spend the money and sign two new starters.
    • Joe Janish December 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm
      Really? The game hasn’t changed? That’s not what the numbers say, particular league ERA and runs scored per game.

      I don’t think the Yankees overpaid, and I don’t think they were in a weak bargaining position. There aren’t many MLB-quality shortstops available, but there are many fifth starters on the market.

      And you’re right — the Yankees WILL sign two new starters. It’s strange that you would mention that, because it kind of proves my above statement — that there are plenty of pitchers available, but not many shortstops.

  2. Dan Capwell December 5, 2014 at 3:33 pm
    Just glad Didi is off the market. The Mets need offense and Didi was out hit by both Ruben Tejada and Wimer Flores last year. Sandy was criticized last offseason for bringing in two guys (Grandy and Chris Young) who actually slash-lined lower than the similarly offense starved 2013 lineup.

    Speaking with Yankee fans, they are sorry to see Greene go. Not an exact comparison, but It is somewhat of an equivalent of the Mets giving up Jeurys Familia to get Didi.

    • Joe Janish December 5, 2014 at 4:09 pm
      It is slightly surprising that the Yankees gave up Greene, considering the huge question marks they have in their rotation. But as mentioned above, pitching is easy to find, and can be purchased via free agency, while shortstops are more difficult to acquire. The Yankees can sign three free agents just as good as Greene, at a fairly affordable cost (though not the MLB minimum, as Greene will cost next year). However, it’s debatable whether any of the available free agents will be as good as, or significantly better than, Gregorius. It’s down to Drew, Lowrie, and the two Cabreras, and all have their limitations. Add the fact that Gregorius’ salary will be about $500K while the rest will require several millions and possibly multiple years guaranteed, and it’s understandable why the Yanks did what they did. You have to give up something to get something.
      • DaveSchneck December 5, 2014 at 10:12 pm
        Joe,
        If you don’t mind, I want to make a slight adjustment to your statement. I suggest “shortstops are more difficult to acquire” should say “quality, cost-controlled shortstops are more difficult to acquire”. There are plenty of shortstops on the market right now, all overpriced and with significant flaws in one or more parts of their games. As a Met fan, it irks me that once again we sit on the sidelines while others, and specifically the aggressively competitive teams, wheel in the hot stove. However, this wait and see approach has a shot at working for the Mets. I think the Yanks made a good move in acquiring Didi, even with the questions related to his offense. And, if the rumors are correct, Arizona required Syndergaard to return Didi. That is a deal that would have sickened me. I am really beginning to think the best fit for the Mets is to sign Drew if and when his price comes down. The main suitors for his services, besides the Mets, appeared to be the Yanks and the As. The Yanks are now out, and rumors are that the As will deal Moss to Cleveland for a SS. Drew at $4 million to be in the mix with Flores, Tejada, and Murphy provides added defense, an okay bat vs. RHP, and a guy that can play well at SS and 2B. Drew should also be highly motivated after last year’s disaster. This preserves all the young arms. Alderson can focus on spinning an excess starter for the elusive quality lefty, and they team will be close to sound.
  3. Dan42 December 6, 2014 at 9:46 am
    Didi makes sense for the Yankees, since he can play SS, B & 3B, and his LH power will be enhanced in that park. His defense is flashy, but somewhat over rated, his Reno numbers were considerably lower than teammates Mike Carp and Nick Evans, and he has reproved that he can’t handle LHP. He would have been a bad fit for the Mets, even if they got him for a bag of balls.

    Ahmet may be a better bet, with a better glove and the potential to improve his hitting. But he’s not the answer now.