The Braves won a playoff series Thursday, and the Marlins will try to wrap up their series Friday. The Nationals are enjoying their final weeks as reigning world champions, and the Mets are preparing to spend after being purchased by billionaire hedge-fund manager Steve Cohen.
And the Phillies? Well, John Middleton continues to deliberate whether to retain or fire general manager Matt Klentak. Middleton waited 10 days last season before firing manager Gabe Kapler. He could be taking just as long this October to make a decision.
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— Matt Breen (email@example.com)
Didi Gregorius loved his time with the Phillies
Bryce Harper pulled Didi Gregorius aside Sunday afternoon before the Phillies finished their season with a lackluster loss and told him he was proud of him.
“You bet on yourself on a one-year deal. You came into Philly and did your job,” Harper told Gregorius.
“He’s going to have teams lining up to be able to sign him next year, and I can’t wait to see what we do or what another team does for him,” Harper said.
Harper won’t have to wait much longer to see what teams are willing to offer Gregorius, as he’ll become a free agent five days after the World Series. Gregorius hit .284 this season with an .827 OPS and played solid defense.
The Phillies' first offseason priority is re-signing catcher J.T. Realmuto, but re-signing Gregorius should be No. 2. With Gregorius at short, the Phillies would keep his bat in the lineup while allowing Alec Bohm to play every day at third base and Jean Segura at second base. Scott Kingery could be used as a super-utility player off the bench. It’s hard to argue that the Phillies are a better team without Gregorius.
“Whoever gives me a chance,” Gregorius said when asked if he would be open to returning to the Phillies. “I loved playing with these guys. They were a great group of guys. I had fun playing the game the right way with these guys. So we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Gregorius missed the first three months of the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2018. A year ago, there was some uncertainty if Gregorius could still be the player who hit .277 with a .791 OPS between 2016 and 2018.
Gregorius, unable to field a long-term offer, signed with the Phillies on a one-year, $14 million deal.
As Harper said, Gregorius bet on himself. And he showed in a 60-game season that he can still be the player he was in New York. Gregorius seemed to reestablish himself before he hits the open market for the second straight year.
“I did what I did here. I played here and had fun with these guys, came up with big opportunities for me to help the team,” Gregorius said. “I don’t know how other teams are going to look at that because that’s them. I can’t predict the future with what they think or know what they think. We’ll see what’s going to happen in free agency. That’s all I can say. That’s all I know.”
The Phillies could offer Gregorius a qualifying offer next month for a one-year contract in 2021. Last year’s qualifying offer was worth $17.8 million, but this year’s figure is not yet known. If the Phillies extend him one, they would receive draft-pick compensation if he signs elsewhere. But they might not be willing to pay him $17.8 million in 2021 if they believe the free-agent market could be even less active than usual.
Gregorius will hit the open market after a season played in front of empty seats and with a labor battle looming with the collective bargaining agreement set to expire after next season. Gregorius might be entering free agency at the wrong time.
In a normal offseason, Harper would be right, and teams would be lining up to sign Gregorius. Next month, we’ll find out if that’s still the case.
It’s been 50 years since the Phillies closed Connie Mack Stadium, which opened as Shibe Park. Frank Fitzpatrick wrote a terrific piece about Ben Shibe, the forgotten namesake behind the old ballpark at 21st and Lehigh. Shibe was an original investor in the Phillies, owned the A’s, built Shibe Park, and co-owned a sporting-goods company that revolutionized the baseball’s design.
Kingery had a rough season that started with contracting COVID-19 and ended with him batting .159. Scott Lauber dug into it this week in Extra Innings and wrote about what’s next for Kingery.
Today: Former Phillies prospect Sixto Sánchez pitches for the Marlins in Game 2 at Wrigley Field, 2:08 p.m.
Monday: The American League Division Series begins at Petco Park and Dodger Stadium.
Tuesday: The National League Division Series begins at Globe Life Field and Minute Maid Park.
Oct. 11: The American League Championship Series begins at Petco Park.
Oct. 12: The National League Championship Series begins at Globe Life Field.
Stat of the day
Another postseason without the Phillies has us thinking about the good times. On this day in 2008, Brett Myers worked a nine-pitch walk against C.C. Sabathia, and Shane Victorino followed two batters later with a grand slam. It was then that you knew that something special was brewing. They defeated the Brewers in four games, and finished an unforgettable month with a parade down Broad Street. It’s been a while, but postseason baseball does occur in Philadelphia.
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.
Question: Has it been decided that the DH will return to the National League again next year, or is that still up in the air? — Dan M. via Twitter
Answer: Thanks, Dan. It has not yet been decided, but I think most people are expecting it to return in 2021. National League designated hitters batted .235 this season with a .728 OPS. In 2019, National League pitchers batted .131 with .329 OPS. That’s an incredible difference in offensive production, and baseball wants to try to maximize offense. So it makes sense for the DH to return next season.