Posted on December 10, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Over the last two offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies have been nothing if not aggressive, and there is no sign of that stopping anytime soon. That continued on Tuesday with the Phillies agreeing to a one-year deal with shortstop Didi Gregorius. The deal is reportedly worth $14 million, making Gregorius the second notable free agent to sign with Philadelphia this winter after starting pitcher Zack Wheeler.
The soon-to-be 30-year-old Gregorius was probably hitting the open market at a bad time. He missed the first half of the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last offseason. Despite hitting 16 home runs for the Yankees in 82 games, Gregorius never quite got going. He ended up hitting just .238 with an OPS of .718. Those numbers were surely disappointing after Gregorius had two outstanding seasons in the Bronx in both 2017 and 2018, becoming one of the most important hitters the Yankees had those years.
To his credit, Gregorius appeared to attract interest from a few teams that were eager to sign him. It’s possible that he even had multi-year offers on the table. However, by taking a one-year deal, Gregorius will be able to return to the open market next winter. If he’s able to stay healthy and put together a season comparable to what he produced in 2017 and 2018, he should garner a more lucrative, long-term deal.
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From Philadelphia’s perspective, Gregorius appears to be the ideal signing. The Phillies did not tender contracts to third baseman Maikel Franco or second baseman Cesar Hernandez this offseason. That left them to rebuild a significant chunk of their infield. However, the Phillies were unlikely to sign high-end free agents like Anthony Rendon or Josh Donaldson without going over the luxury tax threshold. That made Gregorius a good fit for both financially and with regard to their roster needs.
With Gregorius penciled in at shortstop, the Phillies will likely move shortstop incumbent Jean Segura to second base. Oddly enough, Segura played second base during his breakout season with the Diamondbacks in 2016. Other than that, he’s played exclusively at shortstop. That will likely leave versatile utility man Scott Kingery to handle third base. Kingery has always projected as an everyday player, but the Phillies have struggled to find him a permanent home. Other than playing center field last year out of need, Kingery played third base more than any other position, so it shouldn’t be too hard for him to become comfortable at the hot corner.
Defensive alignments aside, Gregorius figures to be a nice addition to Philadelphia’s lineup from an offensive standpoint. He gives the Phillies another left-handed hitter, something they’re lacking outside of Bryce Harper and Jay Bruce. If he stays healthy, Gregorius is a safe bet to hit at least 20 home runs and is comfortable hitting almost anywhere in the batting order.
While Gregorius was not considered one of the elite offensive players on the free-agent market, he’s a great addition by the Phillies. He’s shown to be a strong offensive player in the past and should be motivated to have a big year with a one-year contract. The Phillies were not hurting for offensive help, but they did need to sign at least one everyday infielder this offseason, and Gregorius seems like an ideal fit. In the end, Philadelphia’s 2020 season will likely come down to how much their pitching staff has improved from last year. However, adding Gregorius will help ensure the Phillies have the kind of lineup that will allow them to compete for a playoff spot in 2020.