Yankees announce that Didi Gregorius will have Tommy John surgery

Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius will have Tommy John surgery. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius will have Tommy John surgery. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees announced on Friday that shortstop Didi Gregorius will need Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, and will miss the start the 2019 season. However, the team expects that he’ll be back on the field to play most of the season.

Yankees announce Didi’s surgery at a press conference

The announcement was wholly unexpected, and it was dropped in at the end of manager Aaron Boone’s post-elimination news conference on Friday. Boone said that Didi injured his arm during Game 1 or 2 of the American League Division Series, on a ball that bounced off the Green Monster.

Gregorius, 28, hit .268/.335/.494 with 27 home runs during the 2018 regular season. GM Brian Cashman told reporters during his press conference (which was right after Boone wrapped up) that Gregorius had a partial tear in his UCL from when he played with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013 and 2014, which was asymptomatic. Gregorius had played with it for several years, but Cashman thought there might be an injury when he saw Didi bounce two throws in Game 4.

Tommy John recovery for position players is different than for pitchers. Pitchers typically need 9-12 months to fully recover, since every five days starters use that arm to throw 80-100 pitches between 80 and 100 mph. Position players need their arm to throw, but the number of throws and the intensity of those throws is different, so they need less time to recover than pitchers. Boone said during the press conference that the Yankees “think there’s a realistic chance that [Gregorius] plays the bulk of the season with us.”

Who will play shortstop until Didi’s return?

Even though the Yankees expect Gregorius back relatively early in the 2019 season, there will still be a hole to fill at shortstop until he returns. So of course GM Brian Cashman was asked about whether he’ll go after Manny Machado, who will be one of the biggest stars on the free agent market this offseason.

If you distill Cashman’s 90-plus second answer down to the essentials, you get: “Maybe???????” He wouldn’t commit one way or another to even considering Machado, though pursuing him as a stopgap for Gregorius seems unlikely since Machado is going to command an enormous contract. If the Yankees go after Machado, it’s not because they need someone to play shortstop until Gregorius is healed.

There are several internal options. Gleyber Torres filled in for Gregorius during a DL stint and played 152 innings at shortstop. He hit .271/.340/.480 over 123 games. Adeiny Hechavarria, who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in early September and will be a free agent this offseason, also played a bit of shortstop in the final month of the season, though he only slashed .194/.216/.361 in 18 games with the Yankees. Both Torres and Hechavarria would be natural, low-cost replacements for Gregorius.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter at @lizroscher.

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