Maybe it was Bryce Harper who pushed John Middleton to sign J.T. Realmuto. Or perhaps it was the fans watching from outside Citizens Bank Park last summer and chanting “Sign J.T.” that persuaded the Phillies owner to bring back the best catcher in baseball. Maybe Dave Dombrowski threw his weight around, or it might have been that tweet from Archie Bradley that pushed Middleton’s cash forward.
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Maybe Didi Gregorius would be on the Phillies already if he had a hashtag like the one used as a rallying cry to bring back J.T. Realmuto.
Dombrowski said earlier this month that he was focused this offseason on shortstops, relievers, and catchers. He signed Realmuto, added Archie Bradley and a handful of other relievers, and now has to lock in a shortstop. And the best option is bringing back Gregorius.
The Phillies watched free agents Marcus Semien, Andrelton Simmons, and Freddy Galvis find homes on Tuesday as the shortstop market moved in a frenzy. Gregorius is the last shortstop standing, and a reunion should be the Phillies’ priority now that they’ve locked up Realmuto.
Gregorius, who signed a one-year deal a year ago with the Phillies, appears to be waiting this winter for a multiyear deal. But that could be hard to land. Semien, Simmons, and Galvis all signed one-year contracts, and Gregorius’ market has seemed to dwindle to just the Phillies and Reds.
The Phillies would prefer a one-year deal, as 2019 first-round pick Bryson Stott could be a year away and the next class of free agents is loaded with shortstops. It would be good for the Phillies to keep their options open past this season. The Reds, who have trimmed their payroll this winter, are also likely hoping for a one-year pact.
If both teams are offering Gregorius a one-year deal, it’s hard to see the Phillies’ being outbid.
Signing Realmuto, according to FanGraphs, gives the Phillies a 9.5% chance to reach the playoffs. The site projects the Phillies to finish in fourth place with a 80-82 record. Spring training begins in three weeks, and there’s still plenty of work to be done before the Phillies can be considered a contender. Signing Gregorius — and perhaps a starting pitcher and some additional bullpen help — would certainly push them into that conversation.
The Phillies gave J.T. Realmuto a record-setting contract. Is there more big spending to come? Scott Lauber takes a look.
The Phillies still have plenty of work ahead even after re-signing J.T. Realmuto, Bob Brookover writes.
The Phillies signed Ivan Nova to a minor-league contract as they continue to add pitching depth.
Meet Mike Adams, a 26-year-old who went from a South Jersey men’s league to the Phillies after training himself to throw 98 mph. He signed a minor-league contract this month and will be at minor-league spring training in Clearwater, Fla.
Feb. 17: The first workout for pitchers and catchers in Clearwater, Fla.
Feb. 27: Phillies play first Grapefruit League game vs. Blue Jays.
March 29: Phillies finish Grapefruit League play vs. Blue Jays.
April 1: Phillies begin 2021 season at home vs. Braves, 3:05 p.m.
Stat of the day
The Eagles, by naming Nick Sirianni as their new head coach, extended their streak of hiring first-time head coaches, as the former Colts assistant is the seventh straight Eagles head coach (not including interim coaches) who came to Philadelphia without being a head man somewhere else in the NFL. The last Eagles head coach with prior experience? Marion Campbell in 1983.
Since 1983, the Phillies have had 13 non-interim managers, and eight of those managers entered the Phillies job with prior major-league managerial experience. The rookie managers — Gabe Kapler, Ryne Sandberg, Terry Francona, Nick Leyva, and John Felske — combined for a .458 winning percentage. The experienced managers — Joe Girardi, Pete Mackanin, Charlie Manuel, Larry Bowa, Jim Fregosi, Lee Elia, Pat Corrales, and Paul Owens — combined for a .509 winning percentage, with four managers making trips to the World Series.
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.
Question: Who do you prefer: Didi Gregorius or Andrelton Simmons? — Dave S. via email
Answer: Thanks, Dave. This question came in before Simmons signed with the Twins, but my answer remains the same: Gregorius. I think he was a solid defender last season, and also gives you much more offense than Simmons. I believe you need offense up the middle.