As the annual, ever-eventful winter meetings draw near, the offseason buzz continues to grow louder by the day. The Phillies, like rival clubs, aren’t immune to the noise either. From Gerrit Cole to Kris Bryant to Madison Bumgarner to Cole Hamels, the Phillies have had their name linked to just about every premier free-agent available. Unsurprisingly, that trend continued Friday when they were linked to one of Joe Girardi’s former infielders.
Didi Gregorius is the latest free-agent on the Phillies radar so far this winter. The team is pursuing him in the hopes of trading Segura or moving him to second base, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network.
Similar to every other marquee free-agent linked to the Phils so far this offseason, Gregorius is an incredibly talented player. The Netherlands native is a plus defender and also possesses quite a bit of pop for an infielder as well. In his last four seasons with the Yankees- including an injury-shortened 82 game campaign last year- Gregorius has mashed 88 home runs while toting a respectable .270 batting average.
There’s no doubt he’d be a tremendous addition to a lineup a Philly lineup that already boasts Bryce Harper and J.T Realmuto, but a potential deal between him and the Phils shouldn’t come at the expense of Jean Segura. If anything, the front office should do all they can to pair the two dynamic batters atop the lineup.
On the surface, Segura’s slash line of .280/.323/.420 with 12 homers may seem a bit pedestrian. Even more so when compared to the gaudy power numbers of Gregorius.
However, with the exception of J.T Realmuto and maybe Bryce Harper, Segura was the Phillies’ most consistent and productive batter last season. His end of season numbers are more a reflection of him being burnt out after trying to carry the offensive load atop the lineup he once shared with Andrew McCutchen and playing one too many games at shortstop, instead of his natural position at second base.
After being traded from the Mariners in exchange for Carlos Santana and J.P Crawford, Segura got off to a scorching start in Philadelphia. The veteran infielder batted a red-hot .305 with 58 hits through the first 47 games(!). He also chipped in 23 RBIs during that span and seemed destined for his second consecutive all-star selection and third overall.
A devastating knee injury to Andrew McCutchen in early June changed everything for Segura, though. After decimating opposing pitchers at the top of the lineup alongside McCutchen through the first three months of the season, Segura had a rough go in June as he struggled to find his footing without his partner in crime.
Segura’s .223 batting average in June was his lowest monthly total as a Phillie, but he bounced back in a major way in the following months.
He caught fire in July, batting a sweltering .346 with 27 hits across 21 games. Although his batting average wasn’t as high in August, Segura collected four more hits (31) than he did the previous month and hit twice as many XBH than he did in July as well.
It wasn’t until the latter months of September and October that Segura really began to struggle, but it’s not hard to see why. For starters, he was asked to carry the offense way more- which he stepped up and did admirably, by the way- than he was originally tasked with upon being acquired. This was largely due to McCutchen being lost for the year and Rhys Hoskins struggling mightily at the plate all year.
Secondly, the entire team was enduring one of the worst second-half implosions in team history at the time, which lead to players, including Segura, forcing things at the plate more than usual in hopes to ignite the offense.
While I understand the allure of and potential impact of acquiring Didi Gregorius, I strongly believe the Phillies would be much better served pairing him with Segura than replacing him altogether. The team also wouldn’t be putting themselves in a bind defensively should they pair the two, à la the Carlos Santana/Rhys Hoskins fiasco, as Segura could easily slide over to his natural position at second and let Gregorius man shortstop.
It’ll be interesting to see how things unfold, as the Phillies reported interest in Gregorius is still relatively new. Hopefully, though, Jean Segura is still a Phillie when the dust settles.
Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports