The Yankees will activate Didi Gregorius from the 60-day injured list some time today and he will join the Yankees to make his season debut Friday night (tonight) in Cleveland.
Celebrate. We never knew exactly when Didi would come back, and “June at the absolute earliest” was always kind of the only thing we heard, with the expectation that July or even August was more realistic for a Didi return. Today is June 7 and he’s back. It’s the earliest. Yay.
There is something I imagine the vast majority of you are not going to like, however. To open the roster spot for Didi, the Yankees optioned infielder Thairo Estrada to Triple-A, and not 1B/DH Kendrys Morales.
I have to say, I’m not surprised by the move at all, and, honestly, I’m not necessarily against it. Thairo is better than Morales, so I would have been fine with it if Cashman and co. said “fuck it” and kept Thairo around. He helps keep the best possible product on the field. However, very few teams would do it differently these days than how the Yankees just did it, even with Thairo rapidly emerging as a team and fan favorite.
The Yankees absolutely hate giving up any sort of value without maximizing a situation. Even though Morales, 35, has swung an abysmal .157/.317/.216 (58 wRC+) in 16 games (63 PA) with the Yankees, they would prefer keeping him around than losing him for nothing. I, personally, would have likely cut ties with Morales since he’s been playing baseball badly if it were my decision, but that doesn’t matter.
I cannot claim to be surprised- or mad, frankly- about this since I (1) have understood that this is their philosophy for a while, (2) would not mind letting Thairo get the opportunity to play every day in the minors and develop further, and (3) the Yankees batted Morales 4th and 5th in the order the last two games in Toronto. it makes sense.
Estrada, 23 (!!), will benefit from regular action in the minors. I’m very happy about that. He surprised me with how effectively he played up here this year, so far, and I’m excited to see what he can become. In 25 games (54 PA), Estrada slashed .280/.321/.520 (120 wRC+) while playing five different positions, some of them for the first time as a big leaguer. I didn’t realize just how good his defense was, how fast he can run, or how much life is in his bat. Hopefully, he can turn into at least what we thought Tyler Wade could have been, and, hell, what DJ LeMahieu is now, but with the corner outfield ability as well (not that DJ couldn’t do that, too, if we wanted him to). Finally, there’s a chance that his play over the last month or so perhaps propelled him into the discussion of being someone we could use as the primary piece in a trade. Everyone is saying that we should trade for an “ace” and perhaps now that is more likely since he’s elevated his own stock so much. This would have sounded a lot better about a week ago, of course, if Clint Frazier didn’t just have the week that Clint Frazier had, but c’est la vie.
Moreover, I’m sure a large swath of you will not enjoy the corresponding move to open up a 40-man spot for Didi. It will almost certainly be that Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton is transferred to the 60-day IL. When that is announced, though, it is important to remember that that is retroactive to when they first went on the IL. Judge has already been on the IL for nearly 60-days (he went on the IL on 4/21). Giancarlo went on the IL on April 1. He’s already surpassed 60 days. It would not change the potential return timelines for either of them.
For now, though, let’s just get excited that Didi is back. Lest we forget that Didi was a .268/.335/.494 (121 wRC+) hitting shortstop with 27 home runs a year ago? He’s really good, and we all love him, and he should (and will) be the focus today.