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MLB Trade Rumors predicts Didi Gregorius will leave in free agency


Attempting to predict anything in 2020 is probably a lost cause, but it won’t stop people from trying.

It’s unclear if Didi Gregorius will return to Philadelphia. (John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

Every year, Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors releases his predictions for where the top-50 free agents will sign and how much they’ll ultimately command. We’ll add the qualifier, as Phillies president Andy MacPhail did last Friday, that this offseason projects to have even more moving parts than a normal one. But typically, Dierkes makes relatively accurate predictions.

We say all that to say this: the Phillies have two top-50 free agents this year – J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius – and Dierkes doesn’t believe that either will don red pinstripes in 2021. As we examined earlier this week, Dierkes has projected that Realmuto will leave to sign with the division-rival New York Mets. Dierkes has Gregorius departing this offseason as well, predicting that he’ll sign a three-year/$39 million deal to return to the team that he originally broke into the league with, the Cincinnati Reds.

If there would be any silver lining to Realmuto leaving, it’s that – assuming he rejects the qualifying offer the Phillies extended to him last Sunday – the team would recoup draft compensation. That won’t happen in the case of Gregorius, though, as the Phillies didn’t issue a qualifying offer to him, perhaps because they believed he would accept it. Now, they won’t have to potentially pay him $18.9 million in 2021, but the Phillies will be left empty-handed if one of their most productive players leaves to sign elsewhere.

Following a disappointing final season in New York – one where he admitted that he was never fully healthy after having Tommy John surgery – Gregorius signed a one-year/$14 million deal with the Phillies last December in an attempt to rebuild his value. He seemingly succeeded in that goal, slashing .284/.339/.488 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs.

Still, after the pandemic-shortened season and with uncertainty about if, and to what extent, fans will be able to attend games in 2021, many ownership groups are pinching pennies. It’s hard to know if Gregorius, who will turn 31 before the 2021 season begins, will be able to secure a multi-year offer to his liking. We also don’t really know how involved the Phillies will be in his market this winter.

For his part, Gregorius sounds like he enjoyed his season in Philadelphia, but is aware that whether the team mounts a serious attempt to re-sign him is largely out of his control.

“If they want me back, sure,” Gregorius said last month to Moose & Maggie about his future with the Phillies on WFAN. “I can’t force or say that I have to do this, or I have to be there. At the end of the day, it’s up to them. I really enjoyed playing with the guys over there – I had a really great time.”

Should Gregorius sign with another team this winter, he would leave Philadelphia with a strange distinction: a fan favorite that never actually played in front of fans at Citizens Bank Park.

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