Let's start with the obvious, everyone loves Didi. The Yanks are a better team with him playing short stop. It's not a far reach to imagine him as an All-Star this year though Perry Port of Mytopsportsbooks.com is only giving him 14/1 odds. Fangraphs has Didi as a 3 win player. Personally, I'll take the over on that projection, but either way, the Yanks will miss him in April, and left handed bats in this lineup are an increasingly valuable commodity.
Having said that, the Yanks have run into another in their organization, too many prospects, and Didi's down time provides the team an opportunity to vet the potential of the system. According to ESPN's Keith Law, the Yanks have six prospects in the Top 100, and mlb.com has four of the Yanks' top prospects as infielders. This system has clear potential, but it also needs to realize that potential beyond AAA.
Since Robbie's departure and Arod's decline, the Yankees have suffered from predictable and average production at second and third base. In 2016, ZiPS projected Castro and Headley at 2.2 and 2.7 wins, respectively. Castro finished 2016 with 1.1 WAR, and Headley wrapped up his campaign at 2.6 wins. Neither player really undermined the team in 2016, but it is equally clear that neither player is demonstrating the type of upside that championship teams possess in the infield.
Gary Sanchez is a perfect example of the types of chances the Yankees, now that they have a farm system capable of bearing fruit, are equipped to take. 2016 ZiPS projected Gary at 1.9 wins in over 440 plate appearances. When given the opportunity, though, Sanchez actually contributed 3.2 WAR in 2016 in nearly half the project plate appearances. As a prospect, ESPN didn't even have Sanchez in the top 50 in 2016, but as a player, Sanchez nearly won the Rookie of the Year with two months of effort. 2016 Gary Sanchez is the perfect example of meaningful upside waiting for this organization within its own farm system.
Projecting prospects is inherently tricky, but existing major league players have years of statistics to characterize and predict their performance, with each additional year increasing the accuracy of the next year's projection. Headley and Castro are solid major league players, but the Yankees also have enough data at this point to know what to expect from them moving forward, and they are also occupying two positions typically expected to contribute offense on championship teams.
Come May, Didi will be back in pinstripes. In the mean time, though, the Yanks can use his absence as an opportunity for young athletes to demonstrate their potential at the big league level. If the Yankees are going to pursue some deep playoff runs in the future, they're going to need at least one player of the Torres-Wade-Monteo-Andujar grouping to mimic Sanchez's ascent and produce above the production the team has at second and third base, and this April would be a great time for this team to take a step towards understanding what their future infield can look like.