Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Braves have expressed interest in signing free agent Stephen Drew to play second base. Drew hadn’t appeared anywhere but shortstop before the 2014 season, when he made 31 starts at second for the Yankees, often playing alongside Derek Jeter.
Tommy La Stella was the primary second baseman this past season in Atlanta, but he was traded to the Cubs in mid-November for reliever Arodys Vizcaino and international signing money. Drew, who should be open to one-year offers after a season in which he batted .162/.237/.299, can serve as a stopgap until 20-year-old top prospect Jose Peraza is ready for the big-time.
Drew, 31, is also drawing free agent interest from the Mets and Athletics.
Didi Gregorius was called “a young Derek Jeter” a couple of summers ago by former Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers and now that the 24-year-old shortstop is actually going to be playing in pinstripes — via last week’s three-team trade — the pressure is on him to in some ways meet that hype.
A number of people don’t see Gregorius coming close. This bit of dirt comes from Bob McManaman, senior sportswriter for the Arizona Republic …
Gregorius is a pleasant and polite young man, but he’s also quiet, introverted and has shown he can be a little mentally fragile when things aren’t going his way.
“He lets too many things get to him,” an ex-teammate said. “Didi, sometimes he just thinks too much, you know?”
“He always seems to have a lot on his mind,” former manager Kirk Gibson liked to say.
They’re going to eat him alive in New York.
“He’s OK,” an unnamed scout told Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News on Saturday. “Solid defender, bat is light – long swing. Good athlete. Nervous type, not sure he can handle NY.”
So, uh … good luck, kid.
OK, so it turns out new acquisition Didi Gregorius won’t be Derek Jeter’s replacement. He’ll only be Derek Jeter’s replacement about two-thirds of the time.
General manager Brian Cashman said on WFAN radio in New York that the plan is to platoon the left-handed-hitting Gregorius, sitting him versus left-handed pitching in favor of the right-handed-hitting Brendan Ryan.
Gregorius has definitely struggled versus lefties, hitting just .184 off them, but it’s only 180 total plate appearances and he’s only 24 years old. Plus, while Ryan does hit from the right side of the plate he doesn’t really “hit” from the right side of the plate, batting just .208 with a .556 OPS off lefties from 2012-2014.
These are not deep thoughts. Just thoughts:
- It’s cool that the Tigers, Yankees and Diamondbacks can get together for three-way trades every few years. The last one — with Curtis Granderson, Max Scherzer and all of those guys — set the gold standard, but this one is good too.
- It’s also cool that Didi Gregorius is involved in his second three-way trade in a couple of years. If he doesn’t parlay this — plus his playing abilities — into some sort of nickname like “three-way” or “triple threat” then what’s the point, man?
- I like this trade for the Yankees. Gregorius will be, at his worst, as good as Derek Jeter was on offense in 2014 and his 2013 hitting suggests he can be better than that, even if he’s never a particularly dangerous hitter. That plus a defensive game which is streets ahead of anything Jeter did in, oh, the past 15 years, will make him a nice upgrade over The Captain, all for a very low, low salary. This is way better than signing, say, Stephen Drew and hoping he can return to old form or trading for a big name like Elvis Andrus who will cost a lot and not be as good as his reputation. Gregorius is a legit shortstop who is team-controlled. Those don’t grow on trees.
- Of course, even if he’s a better hitter and defender and he’s cheaper, there will be a certain segment of Yankees fans which will be on his case for anything he does because he’s not Derek Jeter. Which sucks, but which is inevitable. As someone once said, don’t replace the man, replace the man who replaces the man. Someone has to play shortstop in New York in a post-Jeter world, and unfortunately for Gregorius, it’s him.
- For the Tigers, Shane Greene is an interesting pickup. He had 14 starts last year and was a tick above league average, which looks good. But he also outperformed his considerably longer minor league track record with that. He has some good tools, though — a nice fastball and some groundball tendencies — which could make him one of those guys who pitch better than his minor league numbers may suggest. Some guys just take a bit to put it together. And it’s not like the Tigers need an ace in the rotation. A good guy on the back end is totally cool.
- For the Dbacks, I dunno, Robbie Ray was horrible in the bigs in a short stint in 2014. He struck out a lot of guys and walked a lot of guys in the minors. Last year he posted a 1.59 ERA through is first five starts at Triple-A, with a 21/5 K/BB ratio in 28 innings, showing his promise, but he is not a flawless prospect and the Dbacks, in recent years, haven’t done well with the pitchers they’ve acquired. He’ll be a good first test for the new regime.
- The Dbacks will also be getting shortstop Domingo Leyba from the Tigers. He’s only 19 and hasn’t played above A-ball, but he hit very well across two levels in 67 games last season. In leagues in which he was very young. He’s not projected to stick at short, however, so he’ll have to hit if second base is where he ends up.
This will get all the press because of Gregorius being the guy who replaces Derek Jeter, but it’s a fun baseball trade all around.
Now we know who’ll be filling Derek Jeter’s big shoes in New York, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Yankees have acquired Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius in a three-team trade that also involves the Tigers.
According to Rosenthal–following up on an initial report by Sweeny Murti of WFAN radio in New York–the Yankees will send right-hander Shane Green to the Tigers, who will send left-hander Robbie Ray and minor-league infielder Domingo Leyba to the Diamondbacks.
Gregorius was pegged as the Diamondbacks’ long-term shortstop when they acquired him from the Reds in the three-team deal that sent away Trevor Bauer, but that was under the old regime. And he also didn’t play well in 2014, hitting .226 with six homers and a .653 OPS in 80 games at age 24.
[ RELATED: How the trade impacts both teams ]
Former general manager Kevin Towers once said of Gregorius: “When I saw him he reminded me of a young Derek Jeter.” And now he’ll get a chance to replace an old Derek Jeter.
Greene debuted this year after six seasons in the minors and pitched well as a 25-year-old rookie, throwing 79 innings with a 3.78 ERA and 81/29 K/BB ratio. He’ll presumably step right into the Tigers’ rotation, giving them a cheap complement to all the expensive veterans.
Detroit acquired Ray from Washington in last offseason’s swap for Doug Fister, but he pitched poorly in the minors this year and got knocked around in a 29-inning debut for the Tigers. He’s still just 23 years old, but his stock has definitely dipped. Leyba is 19 years old and played this past season at low Single-A, hitting .323 in 67 games.