For the second straight winter, shortstop Didi Gregorius’ trip through free agency has led him to Philadelphia.
Gregorius and the Phillies have reached an agreement on a two-year contract. The deal, which is pending a physical, is worth $28 million.
With Gregorius back at shortstop, the Phillies’ infield for 2021 will include Rhys Hoskins at first base and Alec Bohm, runner-up in the 2020 National League rookie of the year voting, at third base. Second base remains a question that will be sorted out in spring training. It’s likely that the Phillies will play veteran Jean Segura at second base and use Scott Kingery in a utility role, or possibly even in center field. It’s also possible that Segura could be traded, though his $30 million price tag through the 2022 season could make that difficult.
Gregorius first joined the Phillies on a one-year, $14 million deal in December 2019, and proved to be a good fit in 2020. The team benefited from his energy and upbeat leadership, and of course, his left-handed bat in the middle of the lineup.
Among big-league shortstops, Gregorius ranked sixth in batting average (.286) and seventh in OPS (.832). He ranked third in RBIs (40) and tied for fifth in hits (61) and homers (10).
With runners in scoring position, Gregorius hit .345 (19 for 55) with three home runs, 30 RBIs, and a .979 OPS.
Before coming to Philadelphia, Gregorius spent five seasons with the Yankees, where he won the respect of manager Joe Girardi. Now he’s with the Phillies, who have Joe Girardi as their manager. Girardi will be going into the second year as the Phillies manager.
Gregorius missed time late in 2018 with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, and the recovery impacted him at the start of 2019, his final season before free agency. Gregorius signed a one-year contract with the Phillies with the idea of playing well in 2020 and getting back out on the free-agent market quickly.
The 2020 season proved to be like no other as the COVID-19 pandemic raged and the schedule was cut to 60 games. Baseball teams suffered hefty revenue losses, and that depressed this winter’s free-agent market. Gregorius, who will turn 31 in February, surely had his sights set on a longer, more lucrative deal, but the Phillies are happy to have him back. Earlier this offseason, it looked as if he might be a budget cut as the Phillies saved their resources to re-sign J.T. Realmuto.
Having Gregorius on a two-year deal will not block the possible ascension of Bryson Stott, the Phillies’ top draft pick in 2019 and potential shortstop of the future.
The Phillies have had themselves a nice week as they’ve resigned Realmuto and Didi. Now the Phils need some more pitching depth and we might have a good looking baseball team.