Finally, some good injury news this offseason. Didi Gregorius, who underwent Tommy John surgery on October 17th, is progressing well with his rehab and is on track to return sometime next season, he told Ken Davidoff over the weekend. We still don’t know when he’ll return, exactly, but the expectation is Gregorius will play for the Yankees at some point in 2019.
Now that he’s two months out from surgery, Gregorius is at the point in his rehab where he’s starting to increase the intensity of his workouts, and focusing on strengthening the area around the new ligament. So far, so good. Also, Gregorius confirmed he felt his elbow ligament give out on this exact play during the ALDS:
It has only been two months, but so far Gregorius feels strong, and that’s pretty much all we could ask for at this point. There is still a long way to go in his rehab work and, not surprisingly, Brian Cashman said the Yankees will be cautious with Gregorius. They’re not going to rush his rehab work or push him aggressively to get back as quickly as possible next season.
“None of us want to make a mistake and be aggressive. Definitely have to apply discipline in that process,” said Cashman to George King earlier this week. “We do that with every player, but obviously he is an important piece for us in 2019 and he has a career moving forward. We would like it to be with us but that is for another day. You never want to make a mistake in rehab settings, but he is an important piece and hopefully he will get it right.”
The “we would like it to be with us” line is noteworthy. A few weeks ago Cashman said he’ll discuss a long-term contract extension with Gregorius (and Aaron Hicks and Dellin Betances) this offseason because he will be a free agent next year. Even with this Tommy John surgery, a soon-to-be 29-year-old shortstop who is an above-average producer on both sides of the ball and a fan favorite is worth keeping around.
On one hand, I could understand the Yankees wanting to wait to see how Gregorius comes back from his elbow reconstruction before handing him a long-term contract. Tommy John surgery has a very high success rate but it is not perfect. On the other hand, it could be that the longer the Yankees wait, the less likely it is Gregorius takes an extension because he’ll be that much closer to free agency. There might even be a discount now because of the injury.
The important thing right now is Sir Didi’s rehab and health, and making sure he’s in the best possible position to come back and help the Yankees next year. Aside from a Manny Machado signing, which is possible but not necessarily likely, there’s almost nothing the Yankees can do to upgrade or even hold steady at shortstop next season because guys like Gregorius are hard to find.