After a disappointing 2020 season, the Philadelphia Phillies are entering a crucial offseason in which they must fill holes throughout the roster.
The team already has needs in the bullpen and starting rotation, and will also need to replace Didi Gregorius and J.T. Realmuto if they leave in free agency.
There is a plethora of free agents available to help fill these holes, and several of them have played in Philadelphia before. Here are some former Phillies that could wear red pinstripes again in 2021:
Freddy Galvis, SS
Galvis made his major league debut with the Phillies in 2012, but never got consistent playing time until the team traded Jimmy Rollins following the 2014 season. He went on to play with the team for parts of six seasons, and in 2017 became the first Phillie to play in 162 games since Ryan Howard did it in 2008.
Now entering his age-31 season, Galvis has spent time with the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds since the Phillies traded him following the 2017 season.
In 194 games over the last two seasons, Galvis has an OPS of .731, well over his career average of .677. He has also continued to be one of the better defensive shortstops in baseball and tied for sixth in outs above average among all major league shortstops in his last full season in 2019.
Why could he return to Philadelphia? If the Phillies believe that Bryson Stott’s arrival could be around the corner as Phillies Nation’s Ty Daubert outlined last week, signing a stopgap in 2021 makes sense. And with an unbelievable free agent class of shortstops after the 2021 season, it seems unlikely that any of the top free agents now, like Didi Gregorius and Marcus Semien, would opt to sign a one-year deal. Galvis represents a very cheap option that is solid defensively and offers some pop at the plate.
Why would he not return to Philadelphia? Even with his recent offensive improvements, Galvis is a far cry from the production the Phillies got from Gregorius in 2020. And with some potential shortstops already on the roster in Jean Segura and Scott Kingery, the Phillies could look to replace Gregorius’ offense elsewhere, like second base, and decline to sign any shortstop in free agency.
Cesar Hernandez, 2B
During the last decade, Hernandez led the Phillies in runs, hits, walks and several other offensive categories. He was a consistent contributor during a tumultuous time for the franchise, before being non-tendered last offseason.
Hernandez impressed in his first season since leaving the Phillies. After signing a one-year, $6.25 million contract in Cleveland, Hernandez led the league in doubles and posted a .763 OPS – his highest since 2017. He also showed up in the field, winning his first career Gold Glove Award.
Why could he return to Philadelphia? If the Phillies do opt to move Segura back to shortstop and Kingery to a utility role, a hole could open up at second base. Hernandez could be a steady bat in the back half of the lineup and hit leadoff when Andrew McCutchen needs a day off.
Why would he not return to Philadelphia? The Phillies non-tendered Hernandez just one season ago, so they may not even entertain bringing him back after one bounce-back year in a shortened season. They also made it a point to move Segura away from shortstop and might not be keen on moving him back there one year later.
Brad Miller, INF
The unofficial king of multi-homer games, Miller became a folk hero in 2019 after he brought a bamboo plant into the locker room during a Phillies rut. He finished the season with seven home runs in the final nine games, leading many to believe the team should retain his services moving forward.
Perhaps the Phillies would have given Miller a second look if they knew the designated hitter would be coming to the National League, but they did not as he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals to a one year, $2 million deal in the offseason. Miller had a solid 2020 with an OPS of .807 in 48 games with the Cardinals. He spent a majority of his games as the DH, but saw time at second base, third base and shortstop.
Why could he return to Philadelphia? Much of this will depend on whether the universal DH is kept in 2021 and beyond. Miller can fill in across the infield when needed and is a good enough bat to be in the lineup every day. Jay Bruce was great for the Phillies when healthy but could not stay on the field. Miller represents a cheap, depth-bolstering option and makes plenty of sense as a target in free agency.
Why would he not return to Philadelphia? The Phillies would have a tough time finding a spot for Miller if the DH does not remain in the NL in 2021.
Charlie Morton, SP
Morton is the pitcher known by most Phillies fans as “the one that got away.” The Phillies acquired Morton via trade prior to the 2016 season, and he responded with a massive uptick in velocity that was noticeable early in the season. However, he injured his hamstring in just his fourth start and never again appeared in a Phillies uniform.
Since then, Morton has become one of the top pitchers in baseball. In 97 starts across four seasons with the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays, he has gone 47-18 with a 3.34 ERA. In 2019, Morton finished in third place in AL Cy Young voting behind Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, who both had unbelievably good seasons.
Why could he return to Philadelphia? The Phillies need to replace Jake Arrieta in the rotation, and Morton represents a massive upgrade. The trio of Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Morton could help offset any offensive decline that happens in 2021 if the Phillies are to lose one or both of Realmuto and Gregorius.
Why would he not return to Philadelphia? The Phillies appear set to self-impose a budgetary restriction in 2021, and that could prevent them from targeting upgrades like Morton with so many holes to fill elsewhere on the roster. Additionally, it is unclear if Morton is willing to play outside of Florida, and the Phillies might not be a preferable option considering the lack of direction for the organization.
Cole Hamels, SP
Hamels had a great run as a Phillies during the first nine-and-a-half years of his career, pitching to a 3.30 ERA and winning the World Series MVP in the team’s win in 2008. After his trade to the Texas Rangers in 2015, Hamels remained an above-average starter, pitching to a 3.74 ERA in four seasons between the Rangers and Chicago Cubs through 2019.
After signing a one-year, $18 million contract with the Atlanta Braves last offseason, Hamels appeared poised to torture his former team. But he only appeared in one game because of injuries to his triceps and shoulder in a very forgettable Braves tenure.
Why could he return to Philadelphia? Hamels said he was open to a return to Philadelphia last offseason, per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. The spot in the rotation is there, and Hamels makes sense as a low-cost, high-reward option if Hamels’ market is low following a disappointing 2020 season.
Why would he not return to Philadelphia? Hamels dealt with injuries in the latter half of the 2019 season, and these issues become a concern for a pitcher who will be 37 on Opening Day in 2021. It would not take much for a pitcher to replace Arrieta’s production in the Phillies rotation, but the team might opt for a surer thing.
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