Could the Philadelphia Phillies target a Gold Glover to replace Didi at SS?
In a perfect world, the Philadelphia Phillies simply re-sign both JT Realmuto and Didi Gregorius, and head into 2021 with one of the best offensive lineups in all of baseball. However, it is most definitely not a perfect world, and the closer we get to free agency the more likely that it seems both Realmuto and Gregorius won’t be in Philly come Opening Day.
The Phillies took a chance on Gregorius this past offseason, signing him to a lucrative one-year contract to allow him to “bet on himself”. By playing well, the longtime Yankee would be able to hit the open market and command a much larger contract. Gregorius led the Phillies in RBIs in 2020, and recorded the second-highest OPS of his major league career.
Needless to say, Gregorius won his bet, and expects to be rewarded handsomely for it this winter.
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Similar to Realmuto, the Phillies would undoubtedly prefer to keep Gregorius around for another couple of seasons. However, due to his name value and his overall solid production in 2020, the Phils could get priced out. The MLB raising it’s qualifying offer didn’t help either, as that could have been another avenue to keeping Gregorius in Philadelphia.
With the Dutch shortstop potentially on his way out, the Philadelphia Phillies could pivot their interest towards a different veteran shortstop.
Andrelton Simmons, a 31 year old 4x Gold Glove winner and 1x Platinum Glove winner, is set to hit the open market as his contract with the LA Angels expires. He’s coming off a shortened 2020 campaign due to opting out halfway through the season, so it’s unclear what his overall market will be in free agency. With names like Marcus Semien and Gregorius (and potentially Francisco Lindor via trade) headlining the upcoming shortstop class, it’s very likely that someone like Simmons could slip through the cracks.
Simmons is valued almost exclusively for his defense, as he only provides so much at the plate in terms of offensive production. His career OPS sits below .700, and he’s hit just 36 home runs over the last five seasons. Simmons does do a great job of keeping his strikeout numbers low, and tends to hit for a decently high average, but other than that he’s fairly standard at the plate.
However, Simmons’ defense truly is something special. He’s been named a “Wilson Defensive Player of the Year” on six different occasions, and he finished the 2017 season with a defensive WAR of 5.0, the third-highest in baseball history.
The Phillies struggled with their infield defense at times, and adding someone of Simmons’ caliber would go a long way to fixing that. The move would allow the team to keep Jean Segura at second or third base, both appearing to be better fits for the former shortstop at this stage in his career.
Simmons is a well-accoladed player, but he would do very little in terms of “replacing” Gregorius’ bat. Didi was a power-hitting lefty who produced a whole ton of runs, whereas Simmons is more of a pure defensive specialist. Regardless of which you value more, Simmons is definitely an option worth looking at.