SAN DIEGO — Didi Gregorius will hold a distinct place with the Yankees for the way he handled a difficult job, succeeding Derek Jeter at shortstop with production and leadership.
But now the Yankees will have to find his successor.
Gregorius agreed Tuesday to a one-year, $14 million contract to reunite with new Phillies manager Joe Girardi. Gregorius will try to reestablish value in 2020 and head back into free agency for a bigger (longer) payday next offseason.
Gregorius had his best season in 2018 with 27 homers and an .829 OPS, but he finished the year needing Tommy John surgery. He did not return in 2019 until early June and never seemed fully comfortable or confident on defense or able to consistently turn on inside fastballs at the plate like he had in his past. He finished with just a .718 OPS.
Gregorius does not turn 30 until February, so if he is back in full, the lefty swinger is an excellent bounce-back candidate, hitting at another favorable home stadium, Citizens Bank Park.
The Yankees had rejected the chance to give Gregorius the $17.8 million qualifying offer. They seemed concerned his defense would not fully return to form. Plus, they were looking to…