Why bringing back Freddy Galvis in 2022 makes sense for the Phillies
Filling their bench might not be the Phillies’ top priority, but it's vital to keep a respected veteran like Galvis, who can be a bridge to young, talented Bryson Stott.
As a boy, Freddy Galvis left Venezuela for three straight summers after advancing with his friends to play in the championship of a baseball tournament in the United States. The boys from Punto Fijo thumped teams from Belgium and Virginia and slipped past a team from the Northern Mariana Islands.
They played in Maine and Michigan, traveling a long way from their coastal town in Venezuela. And along the journey the players leaned on Galvis, who had been the team’s “el capitan” since he was 10.
“I had to speak for everyone, I had to do everything for everyone, I had to help out all my friends,” Galvis said. “I’ve always been that guy who picks up for everyone and leads on the field. It’s nothing new to me. That’s the way that I learned to play baseball.”
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More than 15 years later, it was that same leadership that endeared him to the Phillies. They brought back Galvis, who originally signed with the Phillies as a teenager, minutes before July’s trade deadline to be a veteran presence on a team trying to make a playoff push. It didn’t take long for his impact to be felt.
“He showed up and he was on the injured list. He was coming back from a quad injury and he’s on the top step, engaged with the game and encouraging everyone,” Brad Miller said. “He’s really smart, and he sees a lot of different things. It just brings a layer of professionalism and competitiveness.”
Galvis’ production — a .224 average and .684 OPS in 120 plate appearances — was below league average, but it can’t be ignored that he finished the season playing every day despite his quadriceps still bothering him.
Yet it’s the other things he provides — the reasons his teammates were so ecstatic in July when they learned that Galvis was returning — that make Galvis, who turns 32 in November, an attractive free agent this winter for the Phillies.
The Phillies have plenty of holes to fill as they need to address left field, center field, third base, and shortstop along with the bullpen and starting rotation. Filling their bench might not be the top priority, but bringing in players like Galvis — veterans who have the respect of the clubhouse — can be vital.
“I think Freddy is going to be valuable for years,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “... It’s not just what he does on the field, but it’s how he stays ahead of the game. It’s how he is always thinking on the field and how he’s always thinking in the clubhouse. Freddy is really good at that.”
His price — Galvis signed last winter with Baltimore for just $1.5 million — should be low and he could fit in as a versatile reserve who can play multiple positions.
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Plus, the Phillies may need a shortstop for the start of the season if they plan on giving the job to Bryson Stott. The 24-year-old prospect has played just 10 games at triple A, so the Phillies might want him to open the season there before moving to the majors.
If the Phillies move Didi Gregorius this winter, Galvis can hold a place for Stott until he’s ready.
“I always want to come back to Philadelphia. There’s no doubt in that,” said Galvis, who signed with the Phillies in Venezuela when he was 16 years old in 2006. “I always wanted to play here. Since I signed with Philadelphia, it’s always been on my mind to win a World Series here. That’s still. I would love to come back here next year. One hundred percent that I want to come back and we’ll see what happens.”
Miller, in his ninth big-league season, had never played with Galvis before the Phillies acquired him, so he knew little about him.
“It kind of came out of nowhere,” Miller said. " I know we were talking about some pitchers and relievers, but he came out of nowhere.”
Perhaps he was a bit surprised by the buzz — “Everyone was so happy,” Miller said — that spread that afternoon in the visiting clubhouse in Pittsburgh.
Galvis had not played for Baltimore in more than a month because of his injury. Yet the players who played with him during his six seasons in Philly were ecstatic to have him back. Miller quickly understood why.
“It’s the epitome of being a pro,” Miller said. “Like we say it all the time, ‘That guys a pro’ or ‘He’s a good teammate’ or ‘He’s a winner.’ All these little terms. That’s what it comes down to when you’re a major-league baseball player is having those traits. He’s prepared for everything.”
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Like Miller, Girardi did not know much about Galvis.
“I had heard when Freddy was here how important he was to the culture,” Girardi said.
And like Miller, it did not take long for Girardi to see what people were talking about.
There was the way Galvis supported the team when he was on the injured list and the time J.T. Realmuto credited Galvis for alerting him to a pitcher’s changeup before hitting a game-winning homer.
Galvis, in his 10th year, brought the things that made him so popular during his first six seasons in Philly.
“You know how I am. Everything is just about winning baseball games,” Galvis said. “I’m just about winning the baseball game that we have that day. I do everything I can to help my teammates and get myself ready to help the team.
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“If I just worry about me, that’s selfish. You know what I mean? We’re playing for the city. We’re playing for the team. We’re playing for more than 26 guys. We’re playing for an organization that has like 150 players in the minor leagues so we’re playing for them, too. It’s not just about me. That’s the way that I see it. I have to put everyone first.”
The Phillies aren’t looking this winter for a captain. But a franchise that has missed the playoffs for 10 straight seasons could always use veteran leadership. Galvis showed for two months this season that he can be that player. And he’s been doing it for almost his entire life.