Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Yankees have a lot of decisions to make with their own free agents, including the futures of Brett Gardner and Dellin Betances. But they're already on the clock when it comes to perhaps their hardest call.
New York has until Monday at 5 p.m. to decide whether to extend a qualifying offer to free agent infielder Didi Gregorius.
A similar situation could arise when it comes to Aroldis Chapman, who will reportedly seek to work out an extension with the Yanks and opt out of his contract if the two sides can't agree on one.
For now, though, the focus is on Gregorius.
If the Yankees extend the qualifying offer to Gregorius and he accepts, they will be on the hook for roughly $18 million on a one-year deal for 2020.
If the Yankees extend the offer to Gregorius and he rejects, they will receive a compensatory pick in the 2020 MLB Draft.
If the Yankees do not extend the offer to Gregorius and he leaves via free agency, they will lose him for nothing.
The Bombers have been quiet about their intentions regarding Gregorius, SNY's Andy Martino reported on Friday, adding that the team views him as a potential bounceback candidate.
Gregorius, 29, struggled with the bat in 2019 after returning from Tommy John surgery in June, hitting just .238/.276/.441 with 16 homers in 82 games.
It should be encouraging that Gregorius' power (though not as impressive as 2017 and 2018) was still there. And therein lies part of the conundrum the Yanks are facing.
Gregorius is still relatively young, he was one of the Yankees' most valuable players in 2017 and 2018, and he has a chance to again be a true impact player in 2020.
Complicating matters further when it comes to the decision on Gregorius is the fact that the Yanks are pretty stacked in the infield even if they let him go.
Already under team control for next season are Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, Gio Urshela, and Miguel Andujar. While Andujar is still working his way back from injury and may profile better as a DH, the Yanks don't necessarily need him in the infield for it to be full -- unless he's playing first base.
Otherwise, Torres, LeMahieu, and Urshela profile as the starters at shortstop, second base, and third base, with someone else getting the bulk of the starts at first base.
If the Yanks are comfortable with the above, the decision on Gregorius is easier. But what if they envision Urshela as a bench piece long-term? What if they move some of their infield glut via trade? Things could get tricky.
Aside from the positional fit, there's also the question of whether Gregorius would accept the qualifying offer if the Yanks extend one. Will another team be willing to pony up for him after what he produced in 2019? Or will roughly $18 million and the potential of hitting the free agent market again after the 2020 season be more enticing for Gregorius?
While factoring in the above, there's also the Yankees' payroll situation to consider.
When you combine the expected salaries for the players who will likely get raises via arbitration, you get $33.8 million. Add that to the $154.6 million the Yankees already have committed to payroll for 2020 and you get $188.4 million. The luxury tax threshold is $208 million.
To sum up, the decision the Yanks have to make on Gregorius is complicated and layered. And they're on the clock.