Didi Gregorius is back for a second season with the Philadelphia Phillies, and the organization is happy to still have the 31-year-old’s bat in their lineup. However, there was a point last offseason where Dave Dombrowski and company were apparently more interested in another shortstop.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Phillies were more keen on Andrelton Simmons in free agency, adding that “they felt a deal was in reach” just prior to February.
Ultimately, Simmons ended up inking a one-year/$10.5 million deal with the Minnesota Twins on January 31. That came a day after the Phillies reached terms on a two-year/$28 million deal to bring Gregorius back.
Why would the Phillies have preferred Simmons to Gregorius? A four-time Gold Glove Award winner, Simmons is one of the best fielding shortstops ever. Gregorius has made a couple excellent defensive plays early in the 2021 season, but he has -5 defensive runs saved in his career at shortstop, while Simmons has 184 defensive runs saved. With uncertainty about Alec Bohm’s potential defensively, it’s not surprising that the Phillies considered prioritizing defense at shortstop, even if it would have meant signing a weaker hitter.
It’s also possible that the Phillies thought signing Simmons would take a much smaller commitment than that of Gregorius, leaving them with the ability to spread money around the rest of the roster. Simmons did only sign for one year and less money annually, though $10.5 million may have been more than the Phillies believed the former Platinum Glove Award winner was worth.
In the end, the relevance of this story isn’t suggesting that the Phillies could try to sign Simmons again this upcoming offseason, but to point out that they could target a shortstop that they feel is a defensive (and overall) upgrade over Gregorius. That would leave them with the ability to sign one one of Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Javier Báez or Carlos Correa. Gregroius would then either move to another position or become a trade candidate.
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