Replacing Derek Jeter: Gregorius and long-term options like Moncada

It’s not like Derek Jeter can be replaced. He can’t. We all know it. He’s Derek Jeter. He’s an icon and a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Everyone respects who love the game of baseball re2pects Jeter, how he handled himself on and off the field. Most of the people who re2pect him also love him.

I’m far from a Yankees’ fan, so are a whole lot of other baseball fans (there ARE 29 other teams) but I am a Derek Jeter fan. It’s virtually impossible not to be and if you say you are not you are probably lying.

So how in the world are the Yankees going to replace him?

The Short Term Solution:

Didi Gregorius, who the New York Yankees acquired via a three-team trade with the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks, can’t replace Jeter.

He’s also likely not in the Yankees plans for the next 20 years. He will be the first person to play shortstop regularly for the Yankees in 20 years.

Didi Gregorius. Getty Images.
Didi Gregorius. Getty Images.

Gregorius, 24, doesn’t have much going on offensively. In 80 games with the D-Backs last season Gregorius hit .226/.290/.363 with just six home runs and 27 RBI. He is quick on that base paths though, recording five triples in that 80-game span. Also encouraging is the fact that he hit .252 in 2013 when he played in 103 games and had 105 more plate appearances.

He’s not the best defensively either but one scout told ESPN’s Buster Olney that “he’s certainly above average.” Olney asserts that,

“What nobody is saying is that if Gregorius is merely a strong defender who doesn’t hit much, he would still represent a significant upgrade at this crucial position for the Yankees.”

He’s right. How can that be? Of course he’s not REALLY an upgrade to the Derek Jeter that we will always remember but the Yankees spent much of 2013 without Jeter, who only had 73 plate appearances while attempting to come back from a fractured ankle.

They then spent his farewell season still starting him at shortstop, batting him in the number two spot even though he was a shell of himself. He was as one of the least productive players in the sport in 2014.

Not that I am saying a word against Jeter. It’s just that most athletes are, in their final season, not the player they were at 25. That’s just reality. So of course putting a 25-year-old in his space will be an upgrade from the last two years but not in the long term.

So what’s the plan long term?

A long term plan for replacing Derek Jeter is subject to speculation at this time but there are options.

Either way the Yankees are going to have to spend money.

One option could be Ian Desmond from the Washington Nationals who will be a free agent after the upcoming season. He’s won two Silver Slugger Awards and was elected to the 2012 All-Star Game. He can be counted on to give you 20-plus home runs and at least 80 RBI a season.

However, Desmond is already 29 years old and he’ll cost even at that age. He turned down an extension offer from the Nationals worth $107 million prior to last season.

Plus, the Nationals are reportedly listening to offers on Desmond going into this week’s annual winter meetings. If they’re able to move him that would more than likely change his availability, if he is offered an extension he’ll take.

They have in-house option Brendan Ryan is not a viable long term solution either. He’s a great defender but an equally terrible hitter. He’s also 32 years old so if the Yankees want long term, like the 20 years that Jeter gave them they probably won’t look to Ryan.

Yoan Moncada. Getty Images.
Yoan Moncada. Getty Images.

Their best possible option will be the most costly but the 19-year old Cuban infielder, who has quite possibly the strangest defection story that you’ve ever heard, is someone the Yankees can look to to be their future. His name is Yoan Moncada. If you haven’t already heard about him you will soon.

Moncada won’t be ready for a couple years of course but isn’t that why they just traded for Gregorius? Of course Moncada presents a set of financial issues due to international signing limits and extra taxes but that kind of thing has never stopped the Yankees before.

Andrew Marchland of ESPN.com writes,

“The Yankees already have blown away their international budget for this year, which is actually an advantage in some respects. As a result of their lavish spending in the international teenager market in which the Yankees signed 10 of the top 30 prospects, according to Baseball America, the Yankees will be limited to spending $250,000 on an individual player during next year’s signing period that begins in July.”

Until then though the Yankees can keep on spending and it is more than likely that Moncada will be signed sooner than later, likely at some point this winter.

It was recently reported that after having established residency in Guatemala he is now in the US. He still has to be cleared for free agency but it will before the Yankees spending expiration date in July, giving them the chance to sign him.

Of course they will be taxed on the deal but that doesn’t matter to them as they are already over budget and already being taxed.

He’s impressed big league scouts in a workout held earlier this year in Guatemala and many believe he is a future All-Star. This could be the kid that the Yankees are looking for to replace the Captain and be their long term shortstop.

He’s young, vibrant, talented and has his entire career ahead of him. Remind you of someone else approximately two decades ago? Sure does, a young Derek Jeter.

Still he could sign with another team or falter and not be the superstar in the making he’s said to be but at this point he appears to be the Yankees best bet as a long term solution at shortstop.

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