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Phillies dipping toes into shortstop market, but may only be secondary players

Corey Seager is a free agent. (Kyusung Gong/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Phillies are monitoring the shortstop market, but it doesn’t appear that they’ll be at the front of the line in what may be the greatest class of free agents in the history of the position.

Jon Heyman of Audacy Sports reports that the Phillies are one of 13 teams “said to be at least gauging the shortstop market.” Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic adds that the Phillies “might pursue a shortstop if one of the top free agents at the position gets squeezed in a crowded market,” but cautions that said scenario isn’t especially likely.

Even though Francisco Lindor and Brandon Crawford ultimately signed extensions to remain with their current teams, this year’s class is still loaded, with Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, Corey Seager and Javier Báez all available for teams to sign.

To sign any of the first four, the Phillies would have to surrender their second-round pick in 2022 and $500,000 of international signing bonus pool money because those four received qualifying offers. Because Báez was traded by the Chicago Cubs to the New York Mets in July, he wasn’t eligible to receive a qualifying offer.

The Phillies seemingly have a need at shortstop after Didi Gregorius posted just a .639 OPS and had -11 defensive runs saved in 103 games this past season. While Gregorius remains under contract for $14.5 million in 2022, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski admitted at his year-end press conference that the Phillies have told the 31-year-old that he’s not guaranteed to be the starter at shortstop in 2022.

Trevor Story is a free agent. (Ian D’Andrea)

With that said, Correa and Seager could very well get 10-year deals. Story and Semien figure to collect well over $100 million on the open market. Báez won’t be cheap either.

Dombrowski didn’t rule out the idea of the Phillies adding another big-ticket item this offseason, but seemed to wonder if it was their best path towards snapping a 10-year playoff drought.

“Are you really better off getting one big-ticket item or working with a bunch of other things that make you better in different spots?” said Dombrowski.

It’s a fair question, but it’s also possible that the Phillies will sign a big-ticket item — Starling Marte or Kyle Schwarber, for example — that isn’t a shortstop.

In that case, Gregorius would return, and it’s entirely possible the Phillies would re-sign Freddy Galvis, who told Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer last month that he’d like to remain with the team. Perhaps those two could prove to be a good tandem at the position, but you also have former first-round pick Bryson Stott looming as an option at some point in 2022.

Then again, it only takes one of these five dropping into what the Phillies deem a reasonable range and perhaps they’ll pounce. The six-year/$126 million deal that MLB Trade Rumors projected for the two-time All-Star Trevor Story hardly sounds unreasonable.


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