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A star-studded shortstop class could await Phils next offseason


Shortstop Francisco Lindor is set to become a free agent following the 2021 season. (Erik Drost, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

A star-studded group of shortstops could await the Philadelphia Phillies next offseason if the team is looking to make another splash.

Five All-Star shortstops under the age of 30 are set to hit free agency following the 2021 Major League Baseball Season. Other quality options could be available as well.

Javier Báez of the Chicago Cubs, Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies, Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros and Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor can all become free agents after next season.

If the Phillies are unable to re-sign catcher J.T. Realmuto, the team could be in line to sign another big deal heading into 2022. And if 2020 shortstop Didi Gregorius either leaves the team or is brought back with a one-year qualifying offer, the team could have a hole at the position. The Phillies do have a former first-round pick in shortstop Bryson Stott that could be ready for the majors by then, but the prospect could move positions to accommodate the acquisition of one of these upcoming free agents.

Báez struggled in 2020 — he posted an OPS of just .599 in 59 games — but the 2016 World Series champion had averaged 4.9 fWAR the two prior seasons. He is an aggressive hitter who makes up for his lack of on-base ability with a high slugging percentage when he is going well. Báez has also shown defensive versatility throughout his career, seeing time at all four infield positions and the corner outfield spots. He will be 28 years old during the 2022 season.

The left-handed-hitting Seager has been on fire this postseason, and just won the NL Championship Series MVP. He’s battled injuries throughout his career, but is super effective when he stays on the field. The 2016 NL Rookie of the Year has an .863 career OPS, and will turn 28 during the 2022 season.

Outside a bit of a sophomore slump, Story has been one of the best power-hitting shortstops since entering the league. He leads players who have primarily played shortstop in home runs since he entered the league in 2016 with 134. Of course, the Coors Field Effect always plays a factor, but Story is a legitimate hitter and should play in any park. He’ll be 29 during the 2022 season.

Correa is the youngest of the group — he’ll be 27 for almost the entire 2022 season. He only posted a .709 OPS this season, but a hot postseason reminded once again why he was selected No. 1 overall in 2012. Correa had an OPS of 1.221 with six home runs, including a walk-off home run in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series, in 13 postseason games. His involvement in the Astros’ cheating scandal may have ruined the perception of Correa for some, but he is still an incredible young shortstop.

Lindor will probably get the biggest contract of these players. He is a great player both offensively and defensively, and has provided some of the most value in the league since he began playing in 2015. Prior to this year’s shortened season, he had been averaging 5.4 fWAR per year. He’ll be 28 throughout the 2022 season, and should be able to secure a huge long-term deal in free agency.

Veteran and former Gold Glover Brandon Crawford and current Miami Marlins starter Miguel Rojas will also be available next offseason, and could be interesting options for one-year deals if the team is sold on Stott in the future.

The free-agent shortstop class next year could truly change the course of several different organizations with all the difference-making players that will be available. It’s no guarantee that the Phillies will be in the market for any of these players, but if the team is indeed trying to add a big-name shortstop they should have plenty to pick from.

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