Much of the attention this offseason surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies so far has focused on upgrading their starting rotation, and rightfully so. But the Phillies infield is far from a finished product as well.
Friday, MLB.com‘s Jon Morosi reported that the Phillies are interested in free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius. Earlier this month, Phillies Nation‘s Jonny Heller wondered whether the two sides could be a fit.
Gregorius is a free agent after a 2019 season where he hit just .238 with a .276 on-base percentage in 82 games after returning from Tommy John surgery. Still, Gregorius is only 29, and between 2015 and 2018, FanGraphs says that he was the seventh-best shortstop in baseball. There’s ample reason to think that he could bounce-back in 2020.
At the outset of free agency, MLB Trade Rumors projected that Gregorius would land a three-year/$42 million deal. If Gregorius bounces back to the form he showed between 2015 and 2018, that would feel like a heist for the Phillies, or any other team. That makes you wonder if it wouldn’t be a better strategy for him to take a one-year, prove-it deal like Josh Donaldson did last offseason. At the very least, it would seem to make sense for Gregorius’ representatives to insist on an opt-out after the first year of a multi-year deal.
If the Phillies signed Gregorius, it would obviously have a domino effect on the rest of their infield. Jean Segura – who the Phillies have reportedly considered moving away from shortstop – could slide to second base, the position where he was an All-Star in 2016 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Cesar Hernandez, the longest-tenured Phillies, feels likely to be non-tendered or traded, though if the Phillies retain him, Segura could open the season at third base. Meanwhile, Scott Kingery, who is a natural second baseman, could remain in the super-utility role if Gregorius is signed, with a very real chance that he opens the season in center field.
Morosi also suggested that another option if the Phillies sign Gregorius would be to trade Segura. Segura, 29, is owed $42.75 million over the next three seasons, and his contract includes a $17 million club option for 2023.
Gregorius, of course, was with new Phillies manager Joe Girardi in New York from 2015-2017, and tweeted to congratulate both him and new Mets manager Carlos Beltran when the two were hired.
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