The Phillies enter the 2020 offseason with more questions than answers regarding the potential lineup for the 2021 season.
Catcher JT Realmuto and shortstop Didi Gregorius are set to test the free agent market this winter and it does not seem that the Phillies front office is that interested in retaining either of them. The Phillies are still looking to fill their vacant General Manager position and as of now it’s looking like Andy MacPhail and owner John Middleton could be the two guys in charge of completing this roster.
The vibe I am getting from this front office is that they want to cut salary and continue to stay under the luxury tax threshold, which will most likely lead to the Phillies significantly regressing in the 2021 season. This is very alarming because besides star rookie Alec Bohm, the Phillies lack young talent in their farm system and the team will have to bank on low-end free agents to try and compete with the powerhouse Braves and Nationals in the National League East. The Marlins are only getting better with their young talent and the Mets are always a wildcard with their top end starting pitching, so the Phillies are playing a dangerous game that could find them at the basement in 2021 even with one on the highest payrolls in Major League Baseball.
I want to take a look at the Phillies options at the shortstop position if we lose Didi Gregorius to free agency this winter. I think it’s a big mistake to let Didi walk after an outstanding 60 game stretch with the Phillies in 2020, where he played every game, hit .284, launched 10 homeruns, and led the team in RBI with 40. Not to mention his defense was excellent as he truly was one of the most important players to the team’s success.
So, assuming John Middleton is going to pinch pennies, let’s assume Didi walks and joins a new ball club this offseason, how will the Phillies replace him? The answer could be a very familiar face to Phillies fans who watched the incredibly painful and unsuccessful rebuild from 2013-2018.
Freddy Galvis is set to be a free agent along Didi Gregorius and his price tag will be much cheaper. I think this is a reunion the Phillies should look into. Galvis, known for great defense, has been a solid major league player since leaving the Phillies in the 2017 offseason. He was actually a pretty elite bat in 2019 where he split time with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Cincinnati Reds. In Galvis’ 2019 season, he hit .260, with 23 homeruns, 70 RBI, and a very impressive 28 doubles. 52 extra-base hits counting his lone triple, that is a stat no Phillies fan could see happening after watching his career in Philadelphia.
Galvis took a step back offensively in the abbreviated 2020 season, playing 47 games, batting .220, with 7 homeruns and 16 RBIs. What intrigues me is Freddy’s defense, Galvis brought home the 2020 Gold Glove award on Tuesday night, an award I thought he deserved in 2017 with the Phillies where he was the runner-up to Giants shortstop Brando Crawford.
There are 4 starting shortstops expected to be unrestricted free agents entering this offseason, all being in their age 30 or 31 season, and right now I think Galvis is at the bottom of the barrel, which means John Middleton could likely bring in Galvis on a cheap deal. The class is highlighted by Didi Gregorius and Oakland Athletics star Marcus Semien. Andrelton Simmons will also be a free agent as he is another elite defensive shortstop but might carry a higher price tag as he has had a much better track record than Galvis over his career.
I think it is very important for the Phillies to make sure they enter the 2021 season with a top tier defender at shortstop. The Phillies have a lot of money invested in the starting rotation and Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin are ground ball pitchers. Giving this rotation an elite up the middle combo will really help keep pitch counts and earned run averages down, especially with Alec Bohm and Rhys Hoskins being below average defenders at the corner infield positions.
Signing Galvis to a one-year deal would save Middleton money and still give the Phillies a solid every day starter at the position. He’s definitely a downgrade to Didi Gregorius but it’s not looking like the Phillies want to invest top dollar for him. I have a bad feeling the Phillies are going to regress in 2021 but a small move like bringing in Galvis could very well keep them competitive.