The Philadelphia Phillies‘ opening day middle infield of Didi Gregorius and Jean Segura is making a combined $28.75 million this season, but with both set to come off the books after the season, it’s already leading to speculation about what president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski will do with that money.
First off, it should be noted that while 2022 is the final guaranteed year of Segura’s deal, his deal does include a $17 million club option for 2023. The Phillies will almost certainly take the $1 million buyout on that option, especially with Segura now out until September after undergoing surgery to repair his broken finger last Friday. That wouldn’t prevent the Phillies from retaining the two-time All-Star, but as he enters his age-33 season, Segura would likely have to be willing to take a one-year deal worth less money than he’s made the past few years.
In any event, the Phillies may have their eyes on a bigger prize this upcoming offseason, with “several executives” predicting to USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale that Dombrowski and company will be “in the market for one of the marquee free-agent shortstops.” The article also suggests that the Chicago Cubs will be heavily involved in the market.
Over on Audacy Sports, I recently ranked the top 15 potential free-agents for the 2022-23 offseason, with three shortstops — Carlos Correa, Trea Turner and Xander Bogaerts — appearing in the top five. Turner is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career, while Correa and Bogaerts have opt outs in their current contracts.
Turner, 28, is considered one of the most well-rounded offensive players in the game. While his -6 defensive runs saved and -7 outs above average suggest that he’s probably better suited to play second base, teams will be willing to pay him to play shortstop to acquire his bat. Turner is slashing .299/.352/.469 with six home runs, 44 RBIs, 11 stolen bases and a 1.7 fWAR in 2022.
One would think the Los Angeles Dodgers are the favorites to retain Turner, but they have let Manny Machado and Corey Seager walk in free agency in recent years, so who knows. Jon Heyman of The New York Post also previously reported that Turner — who spent parts of seven seasons with the Washington Nationals — is “still believed to prefer the East Coast.” Perhaps he would be interested in reuniting with Bryce Harper, who he said “feels like the best player in the world” last month when the Phillies played the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
Correa didn’t pounce on a 10-year/$275 million offer from the Detroit Tigers early last offseason, and ended up having to “settle” for a three-year/$105.3 million deal with the Minnesota Twins. The good news for Correa, a long-time Houston Astro, is that he can opt out this offseason and return to the free-agent market if he chooses to. The 27-year-old is slashing .279/.344/.407 with three home runs, 16 RBIs and a 0.7 fWAR in 2022. Correa won the American League Platinum Glove Award last season, posting 20 defensive runs saved and 12 outs above average. The former No. 1 overall pick has two defensive runs saved and -2 outs above average in 2022.
Given that he can also opt out after the 2023 season, Correa doesn’t have to opt out of his deal this winter if he doesn’t put together another superstar campaign.
Meanwhile, Bogaerts is an especially interesting name because the six-year/$120 million deal that he’s widely expected to opt out of after the third season of was signed when Dombrowski was the president of baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox.
The 29-year-old is putting together another monster season at the plate, slashing .323/.393/.485 with six home runs, 26 RBIs and a 2.3 fWAR. The problem is that Bogaerts has -57 defensive runs saved at shortstop in his career, a trend that’s likely to worsen as he gets into his 30s. Especially for a team in such need of defensive improvements as the Phillies, signing Bogaerts would only make sense if you could convince him to play second or third base, and it’s hard to know how he would fair at either of those positions.
In the interim, how Bryson Stott and Alec Bohm perform will go a great way in determining how the Phillies choose to attack next offseason.
If Stott’s walk-off home run Sunday was his coming out party, perhaps the Phillies won’t be in the market for a shortstop. Or maybe they will be, and Stott will move to second base.
It’s not for a lack of effort, but Bohm has -10 defensive runs saved and -7 outs above average at third base this season. It’s unclear if he and Rhys Hoskins will be able to continue to co-exist on the same roster beyond 2022. It’s hard to know which of the two the Phillies would move this winter if they believed both were first baseman/DH types because each have turned in disappointing offensive results for large chunks of the 2022 season.
There will come a day, perhaps soon, where the Phillies have to ask themselves if they can continue trying to sign star players in an effort to return to the postseason for the first time since 2011 when the strategy hasn’t produced a playoff appearance thus far. But until the team can consistently develop talent from within, what other option do they have?
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