Who will be the 2021 Philadelphia Phillies shortstop? Didi Gregorius was great for the Phillies at shortstop last year but is now a free agent after signing a one-year deal for 2020. Philadelphia locked up JT Realmuto on a long-term contract, but it remains unclear who will be the everyday shortstop in 2021. Here are a few routes this team could take.
2021 Philadelphia Phillies: Shortstop Option 1
With every passing day, it seems more and more likely that Didi Gregorius will be the Phillies" shortstop in 2021. On Thursday, he posted a picture on his Instagram of him at Citizens Bank Park. He’s also stated that he’s looking for a deal in the price range of $15M average annual value. On paper, that should be well within range, but John Middleton tends to be stingy with spending money. However, Middleton went back on his word and brought back J.T. Realmuto, so there is hope he will do the same with Gregorius.
In 60 games in his first year with the Phillies in 2020, Gregorius had ten home runs and 40 RBIs while hitting .284 and recording an OPS of .827. Gregorius is one step below the elite level of shortstops in MLB, but he is still a great option at a more manageable price. Hopefully, the team can get it done and bring Gregorius back because the Phillies’ infield situation will become more complicated without him.
2021 Philadelphia Phillies: Shortstop Option 2
Jean Segura is a league-average hitter who played primarily at third and second base last year. Alec Bohm is set to be the everyday third baseman, but Segura should slide in at second in 2021 if Didi Gregorius re-signs. However, if Gregorius signs elsewhere, Segura will likely slide back to shortstop, leaving a hole at second base. While Segura would be adequate at shortstop, the more significant issue would emerge at second base.
More than likely, Scott Kingery would see a significant increase in playing time at second base in 2021. Kingery is a utility man who looked great in 2019 but struggled mightily in 2020 as he dealt with the after-effects of COVID-19. On the year, Kingery hit for an abysmal .511 OPS in 36 games, as he lost playing time to Alec Bohm. While Kingery is undoubtedly better than he was in 2020, he hasn’t shown that he can be an effective long term option; not to mention it’s nice to have defensive flexibility, and Kingery can fill in at centerfield as well.
2021 Philadelphia Phillies: Shortstop Option 3
After Freddy Galvis (Baltimore) and Andrelton Simmons (Minnesota) inked deals elsewhere, Didi Gregorius is the only remaining relevant free agent shortstop. However, the team could sign a second baseman and move Jean Segura to shortstop.
The most intriguing option of the bunch is former St.Louis Cardinal Kolten Wong. At the plate, Wong is very similar to Segura, but as a left-handed bat. In 2019, he hit 11 home runs while recording an OPS of .784 in 148 games. However, he would be a good option because of what he brings to the table with his glove. The Phillies have struggled in the field in years past, and Wong would help to fix those issues. In 2020, he earned the NL Gold Glove Second Baseman nod for the second consecutive year, as he only committed two errors in 397.0 defensive innings.
Outside of Wong, there are a few other reliable free-agent options at second. Jonathan Villar, Jonathan Schoop, and Jason Kipnis have all had great years in MLB but are now past their prime. Long story short, Wong is the best of the bunch.
2021 Philadelphia Phillies: Shortstop Option 4
This should not be a legitimate option, but knowing this organization, anything is possible. The Phillies rushed Mickey Moniak to MLB last year, so no one should be surprised if they do the same with Bryson Stott or Nick Maton in 2021. In my previous article, I referenced that Stott and Maton are two of the Phillies’ best prospects who have not played at the MLB level yet, however, both are under age 24 and are far from being MLB ready.
At the end of the day, if the Phillies want to be able to compete in 2021, thehy need to bring back Didi Gregorius. He is the best option for this lineup, and it would not make sense to move Jean Segura to short or rush up another young prospect. Hopefully, John Middleton and Dave Dombrowski can get a deal done soon!
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