Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius is making $8.25 million this season.
By Randy Millar
NEW YORK — Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius is ready to talk contract extension if and when management becomes interested in starting negotiations.
He’s willing to talk now.
He’s willing talk after the season.
His hope is that a new deal is in place before he can become a free agent after the 2019 season.
“If they offer me something and I get a chance to stay here, I’ll stay here,” Gregorius told NJ Advance Media.
Surely, the Yankees want to keep Gregorius, who has developed into a star after initially struggling in 2015 as Derek Jeter’s successor.
So far, the Yankees haven’t reached out to Gregorius, who has followed a tremendous 2017 season by getting off to a great start this year, the highlight being his record-setting eight-RBI game in last Tuesday’s home opener.
“I have no offer,” Gregorius said. “Nothing. No talks. I’m just playing the game. If they want to offer me a contract, they’ll offer me a contract. But they haven’t told me anything. All I worry about right now is my job.”
Thus far, the Yankees and Gregorius have had no contract squabbles, as he’s been eligible for salary arbitration the past three offseasons and each time the sides worked out a deal without a hearing.
Gregorius is making $8.25 million this year after bringing in $5.1 million last year and $2.425 million in 2016.
If the Yankees approach Gregorius about a long-term contract, he hinted that he wouldn’t try to break the bank.
“I don’t look at it as I’m the guy who plays shortstop and will have a lot of money,” he said. “It’s not about money for me. It’s about the love of the game and what I do for my teammates. That’s all that matters for me. At the end of the day, if they want to offer me a contract, they’ll offer me a contract. But right now I’m just focusing on what I can do and we’ll see how everything is going to turn out.”
Gregorius was asked if his preference is to stay with the Yankees.
“My preference is to stay in the big leagues, especially in New York,” he said. “So I’d probably stay here.”
What would Gregorius be worth on the open market?
One of the Major League scouts taking in Friday night’s game at Yankee Stadium was asked that question and his answer interestingly included mention of Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, one of the biggest names in next winter’s free agent class and rumored to be hoping to sign with the club that he rooted for in his youth, the Yankees.
“Didi’s a budding superstar and he’s not like Machado, who will try to get every dollar that he can get,” the scout said. “If the Yankees are smart, they’ll lock him up in the offseason. Give Didi $20 million a year for six years and I think he’ll be very happy and keep doing his thing.”
Gregorius had a breakout season last year, hitting .287 with 25 homers and 87 RBIs despite missing the first month with a shoulder injury. This year, he’s been the Yankees’ best player thus far with a .367 average, three homers and 10 RBIs in nine games through Saturday.
For sure, Gregorius is in line for mega bucks down the road.
“I don’t look at that stuff,” he said. “That’s not going to help me. The only thing I can control is playing the game the right way. If I do that, everything is going to be fine at the end.”