In any other year, this would be a boon time for teams looking to sign a shortstop.
The headlining shortstops of this winter’s free-agent class in Didi Gregorius, Marcus Semien and Andrelton Simmons might represent three of the 10 best players at that position dating back to 2017, and yet every general manager in the game can recite the five superstar shortstops (Javier Báez, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager and Trevor Story) who could all hit the market a year from now. Some teams might prefer to wait until then (and they might also take a long look at KBO free agent Ha-seong Kim), but that means there’s an opportunity for clubs in dire need of a shortstop -- the Reds, Rangers, Brewers and Angels all come to mind -- to take their shot now and get an established veteran, likely at a discount compared to ‘21’s super-class.
Gregorius, Semien and Simmons have all experienced some highs and lows in recent years, so here are some of the pros and cons for each that front offices will be weighing.
In one sense, Gregorius is nearly a unicorn in that he and Seager are about the only power-hitting shortstops who hit from the left side. Gregorius’ lefty swing has found plenty of seats in right field for the Phillies and Yankees; pull happy or not, Story and Lindor are the only shortstops with more homers than Gregorius’ 98 since the start of his breakout 2016 season. He enjoyed a better ‘20 campaign than Semien and Simmons, putting up a 116 weighted runs created plus (wRC+, where 100 represents league average) and looking a lot like the hitter who flourished in the Bronx before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Gregorius was a stud at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park (131 wRC+) and average everywhere else (100 wRC+), and that largely tracks with his Yankees tenure, too. Home ballparks probably need to be part of the equation when evaluating Gregorius and his extreme pull-side power. If your club’s park doesn’t have a friendly short porch in right, you may need to temper power projections -- especially because Gregorius has always ranked poorly on Statcast’s average exit velocity and hard-hit-rate leaderboards, despite the dingers.