Last offseason, when the Phillies dealt Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford in a deal that landed them Jean Segura, it looked like they were solidifying the shortstop position for years to come. However, after just one year, it appears that may not be the case.
Segura is signed through 2022 with a team option in 2023, but it doesn’t seem likely that he will play out his contract at shortstop. He had 20 errors in 2019 and although the team may have liked him to remain at shortstop for more than just one year, a report from Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic indicated that the team acquired Segura with the plan to eventually move him to second or third base at some point during his contract.
The Phillies may have gotten their shortstop of the future in the 2019 MLB Draft in Bryson Stott. However, between now and the time that the 22-year-old Stott is ready, they need a short-term solution. And former Arizona Diamondback and New York Yankee Didi Gregorius appears to be a good match for the Phillies in 2020.
After the Yankees decided not to offer Gregorius the qualifying offer on Monday, MLB.com insider Mark Feinsand listed the Phillies as one team that could have interest.
Gregorius was very productive during his five years in New York. He hit 20 plus home runs in each season from 2016-18, and ranked top five among all major league shortstops in home runs, RBIs, OPS and fWAR from the beginning of 2017 until the end of 2018. And, he did all of this while playing above-average defense. From 2015-19, Gregorius ranked 10th among shortstops in defensive WAR, according to Fangraphs. He is certainly a defensive upgrade over Segura and would help continue to shore up a Phillies defense that greatly improved in 2019.
Despite this success, the 29-year-old likely will not require a hefty contract. His 2019 season was derailed after he had Tommy John surgery last offseason, and he didn’t appear in a game until early June. And when he did play, Gregorius’ production paled in comparison to his previous two seasons. In 82 games, he had only a .718 OPS, his worst offensive season since 2015.
A one-year, prove-it deal similar to ones signed by Josh Donaldson and Mike Moustakas last offseason makes sense for Gregorius. Coming off of a down season that was mainly a result of injury, he will likely want to get the chance to show that he was the player he was in 2017-18 in hopes of getting a bigger contract next offseason. Something along the lines of a one year, $15 million contract with a mutual option for 2021 would make sense for both Gregorius and the Phillies.
One connection between Gregorius and the Phillies is new manager Joe Girardi. Gregorius spent three seasons with Girardi in New York, and made sure to congratulate him on his new job in a tweet on Monday just after it was announced the Yankees wouldn’t be offering him the qualifying offer:
Gregorius certainly isn’t the Phillies only option this offseason. They can sign a third baseman like Moustakas or Donaldson, keep Segura at shortstop and put Scott Kingery at second base. They could even sign a second baseman and align the rest of the infield around that. But, with Stott a part of the team’s future and Gregorius potentially motivated to take a one-year deal, he and the Phillies are certainly a good fit.
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