Hours after J.T. Realmuto signed a five-year/$115.5 million contract, the shortstop market took off. Marcus Semien, Freddy Galvis, and Andrelton Simmons all signed one-year deals, leaving Didi Gregorius as the lone everyday shortstop available on the free-agent market.
If the Phillies strike out with Gregorius, the team could look to improve elsewhere. They have “checked in” on former Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com.
The Hawaii native is coming off back-to-back Gold Glove Award-winning campaigns. He slashed .265/.350/.326 with one home run and 16 RBIs in 181 at-bats in the shortened 2020 season. Wong doesn’t carry the same type of power threat that Gregorius has but he is hard to strikeout and represents a much-needed defensive upgrade for a team whose pitching staff relies heavily on getting groundball outs. St. Louis declined his $12.5 million club option for 2021 earlier this offseason.Embed from Getty Images
Signing Wong is far from the Phillies’ “plan-A.” Gregorius remains the priority but he is reportedly seeking a two-year deal worth $30 million. If the Phillies do add Wong, his fit in the current infield is intriguing. Jean Segura is a much stronger defender at second base than at shortstop and while Kingery struggled at the position, second base is still considered to be his natural position.
The team will sacrifice defense at shortstop by moving either Segura or Kingery back to the position. In 2020, Segura was in the 99th percentile in outs above average, according to Statcast and while he put up his best numbers at third base, his metrics at second base aren’t far behind. It wouldn’t make a ton of sense to pay for a top tier defensive second baseman when you already have one on the roster. Wong also isn’t a candidate to move around the infield like Segura and Kingery are.
Morosi also mentioned that the Cardinals, Tigers, Mariners, Rays and Cubs are among the other teams who have also checked in on Wong. On Tuesday, former Phillie César Hernández re-signed with Cleveland on a one-year/$5 million contract with a club option for 2022, so Wong should command a slightly higher price.
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