Posted on March 22, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Less than 24 hours after announcing that shortstop Didi Gregorius has a shoulder injury that will likely keep him out for at least the first month of the regular season, the New York Yankees are reportedly considering replacement options from outside the organization. An anonymous source with knowledge of the organization’s thinking names Nick Ahmed of the Diamondbacks, Zack Cozart of the Reds, and Jose Iglesias of the Tigers as players who are being considered potential trade targets of the Bronx Bombers following the injury to Gregorius.
It should be noted that the Yankees have several in-house candidates, even if top prospect Gleyber Torres isn’t being considered one of them. However, none of them are all that appealing. Utility infielder Ronald Torreyes can handle the position defensively, but he’s never produced much offensively in the majors. Ruben Tejada and Pete Kozma, who are both with the Yankees on minor-league contracts, have been viable major league shortstops in the past, but neither are exciting offensive options. Prospect Tyler Wade is also being considered, although he’s yet to even play at triple-A.
“We’ll have some eagle eyes on guys now over the next 10 days to two weeks,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Tuesday. “Since they now know that there’s a position that’s up for grabs, it’ll be interesting to see how they respond to that type of competition, too, because there’s a vacancy that needs to be filled.”
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Nevertheless, by Wednesday there were reports that the Yankees were already considering their options from outside the organization. This could indicate that the Yankees are less than enthused with what they’ve seen from their shortstops so far this spring. It could also be a sign that there’s at least a chance Gregorius will be out more than a month.
Ahmed figures to be the most available of the three trade candidates named, as the Diamondbacks are already looking for suitors due to a logjam in their middle infield this spring. Ahmed would be a huge drop off from Gregorius offensively, but he put up solid numbers in 2015 and is known as a defensive wizard at shortstop. He also has a low salary, is under team control through 2021, and could easily transition to a backup role when Gregorius returns.
Cozart would be a more reliable offensive option, hitting .252 with a .732 OPS last season. The Reds would also be more than willing to trade him to help clear room for Jose Peraza and Dilson Herrera in their middle infield. However, he’s set to make more than $5 million this season before hitting free agency next winter. It would also be hard to justify making him a bench player once Gregorius comes back, so he may only fit if Gregorius is out for more than a month.
Iglesias may be a bit more difficult to acquire for the Yankees. The Tigers are expected to compete this season and have no obvious replacement at shortstop outside of prospect Dixon Machado, who leaves much to be desired offensively. Iglesias is also coming off a down year offensively and offers little power in place of a player in Gregorius who provided 20 home runs last season.
None of these three are perfect candidates to replace Gregorius, at least in the short term. But the fact that the Yankees are already exploring their options signals that the team isn’t enamored with their internal candidates and view the loss of Gregorius as a huge blow to the team’s chances to compete this season.
The Yankees aren’t going to rush into a trade, as they have some time to see if one of their internal candidates emerge late in spring. However, if that doesn’t happen, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Yankees trade for a shortstop before the start of the regular season, with Ahmed perhaps being the most likely candidate at this point in time.