Phillies Agree to 2-year Deal with Didi Gregorius
After agreeing to a 5-year deal with J.T. Realmuto earlier in the week, the Phillies didn't stop adding to the lineup, reportedly agreeing to a deal with shortstop Didi Gregorius worth $28 million over two years. Gregorius, who hit .284 with 40 RBIs and an OPS of .827 with the Phillies in 2020, bolsters the lineup offensively and brings a left-handed bat to a lineup thats dominated by right-handed hitters. With Didi coming back, the Phils' lineup in 2021 realistically will look something like this:
P (assuming the universal DH will not be returning in 2021)
While some people have been complaining that this lineup is almost identical to last season's, it's important to remember that offense was not the issue with the 2020 Phillies. The Phillies lineup in 2020 was the 5th best in the MLB in terms of scoring runs, and ranked inside the top-10 for most major offensive categories. As long as the additions to the bullpen keep the staff from being as historically-bad as they were last season, the Phillies can certainly contend in the division with this lineup.
Originally, it was rumored that the Phillies were going to pursue a 1-year deal to fill the hole at shortstop, which would've allowed them to bridge the gap between this season and next offseason. The multi-year deal came as a surprise to most people. Signing a deal for only a year would've allowed the Phillies to be major players in the free agent market next year, one that is packed with shortstops, or potentially give them the opportunity to see what they have in prospect Bryson Stott. However, agreeing to this deal doesn't necessarily take them out of contention for a shortstop next year or create a logjam for Stott.
Didi Gregorius is primarily an offense-first shortstop, and while he does play solid defense, almost all of his value comes from his bat. There are a lot of questions about the future of the universal DH in the MLB, and although it doesn't seem to be coming back this season, it's almost certainly going to return for good in the near future. Gregorius would be perfect for the DH spot, as it would allow the Phils to keep another left-handed bat in the lineup and potentially look to add a player at shortstop or play Bryson Stott.
With an AAV of around $14 million, Gregorius' deal leaves the Phillies payroll for 2021 around $193 million. When the 2021 season kicks off, they will likely be at or around that $204 million mark from 2020. This leaves them with around $10 million to spend to patch up any remaining holes, whether that be in center, the starting rotation or the bullpen. By signing J.T. and Didi this week, the Phillies front office has shown that they are committed to doing what they can to put the best product on the field, and this is something that should make fans optimistic.
It really is a wonder how much the outlook on this offseason has shifted since it began. The commitment to spending and making the moves to improve where the team needs improvement has put the Phillies in a position to contend in a stacked division and hopefully make a push to postseason and end the longest playoff drought in the NL. The additions of Dave Dombrowski as President of Baseball Ops and Sam Fuld as GM have given the Phillies a sense of direction we haven't seen in a few years, but John Middleton deserves credit too. Fans have been critical of Middleton for a few years now, however, as the owner of the team, he ultimately has the final say on almost everything the team does and they might not be making moves and trying to build a contending team were it not for his commitment to spend money and do so.
So far this offseason, the Phillies have retained what was one of the best offenses in the MLB last season, patched holes in the bullpen, and made low-risk moves with the potential for decent upside in the starting rotation. The Phillies will be a good team in 2021 and if certain things go their way in the division and the NL as a whole, they could find themselves playing in October.
A powerful left-handed bat, solid infield defense, and a sunny disposition quickly made Gregorius a fan-favorite in 2020. His return should make fans very excited, as he plays a very pivotal role in the lineup and clubhouse. Baseball can't get here soon enough!
Welcome back, Didi!