The first-place Yankees have been without injured shortstop Didi Gregorius all season, but it appears he’s moving closer to a return. Gregorius is set to begin a rehab assignment with Single-A Tampa, per an announcement from New York.
Gregorius, one of the Yankees’ most valuable players dating back to the beginning of his tenure with them in 2015, has been on the mend from Tommy John surgery since last October. The 29-year-old’s injury helped lead to speculation New York would pursue Manny Machado in free agency, but the club ended up taking much cheaper routes to bolster its infield, signing DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki. The addition of LeMahieu, whom the Yankees signed to a two-year, $24MM contract, looks like a shrewd pickup so far. The low-cost signing of the oft-injured Tulowitzki hasn’t been nearly as beneficial, on the other hand, as he hasn’t played since April 3 on account of a calf strain.
With Gregorius and Tulowitzki out of commission, the Yankees’ middle infield has typically consisted of rising star Gleyber Torres at short and LeMahieu at second. It’s unclear how the Yankees’ infield will align once Gregorius comes back, as they also have surprising standouts Gio Urshela and Thairo Estrada joining powerful first baseman Luke Voit in the mix, but they surely consider that a high-class problem. Manager Aaron Boone said Friday that the 29-year-old Gregorius should return within 20 days, per Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.
Once Gregorius does come back, he’ll be vying for a potentially significant offseason payday. Gregorius, who’s fresh off back-to-back seasons of at least 4.0 fWAR, stands as the majors’ most enticing soon-to-be free-agent shortstop in the wake of Xander Bogaerts’ extension with the Red Sox. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes ranks Gregorius as the game’s sixth-best impending free agent.