Mariekson Julius Gregorius, or “Didi” as he is better known, is one of the most unique personalities that has come to the Phillies. From the seemingly never-ending smile on his face and the four languages he fluently speaks, to being one of the best follows on Twitter, Sir Didi Gregorius has grown into one of the most entertaining players both on and off the field. Gregorius joined the Phillies on a 1-year $14 million deal for this season, reuniting him with former manager Joe Girardi. Whether or not Didi will be back next season is still up in the air, but he should be appreciated for the time that he spent in Philly regardless.
Early Playing Years
After being born in the Netherlands, Gregorius began his professional career by signing as an amateur free agent with the Reds in 2007. Didi climbed his way up the Reds organization but was stuck behind Zack Cozart for the SS job and was traded to the Diamondbacks in the 2012 season. After spending the beginning of the season in the minors, Didi soon got a chance in the Big Leagues and made the most of it.
After Derek Jeter retired, the Yankees set their sights on finding the next shortstop to earn their stripes. This is where Didi Gregorius began to grow into the star he is now. The Yankees acquired him in a trade before the 2015 season and despite a slow start he ended the season hitting .265 while knocking in 9 home runs and 56 RBI’s. He also began to gain notice for his “victory tweets,” which do not disappoint to this day.
The stars seemed to have aligned for Gregorius to be the face of the infield in New York for a long time until he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. His recovery from the surgery held him out of the lineup for the first half of the following year which allowed for the emergence of Gleyber Torres. Despite hitting the first postseason grand slam by a shortstop in Yankee history, the team decided to move on from Didi in the offseason and give the reigns to the Torres who was coming off 3rd place voting in the Rookie of the Year race.
Arrival With Phillies
After losing his job in New York and having a slightly down year in production, the free-agent market was fairly quiet for Didi. He agreed to a 1-year $14 million deal with the Phillies and he became the everyday starting shortstop. Gregorius was all the Phillies could have hoped for and more and he proved to be a consistent piece in the lineup on an everyday basis.
Didi played all 60 games this season and hit .284 on the season, which was 3rd on the team. He also was tied for 3rd on the team in HR’s (behind just Bryce Harper and JT Realmuto) and led the team in RBI’s with 40. Gregorius was better than even the Phillies could have imagined and he now has stepped up to the plate ready for a major contract.
While JT Realmuto may continue to get the majority of the free-agent talk, if Gregorius is to walk away it will be nearly as impactful to the Phillies team. Didi put up numbers similar to his prime years with the Yankees and he shut down all whispers of him not being healthy enough to produce. This was a year for him to prove this as he could still produce at a high level and he will now enter the free-agent market as the premier shortstop. The Phillies will have to put their money where their mouth if they want to bring Didi back.
Does it Make Sense to Re-Sign?
Selfishly I 100% would love for Didi to be back. He is a legitimate power bat in the lineup and at just 30 years old could be a core member of the Phillies. Gregorius also provided energy and personality on the team that is tough to put a price on. He is a guy the organization should feel confident working into their long-term plans even if that was not the original plan.
This season could not have gone much better from Didi’s perspective as well. He proved that he still has some tread on the tires and that he deserves the handsome paycheck that he desires. The Phillies gave Bryce Harper the $330 million deal just 2 years ago and there still has not been a conclusion reached in the JT Realmuto negotiations. The fact of the matter is each of these guys deserves to be paid well and they should certainly be guys the Phillies should want to keep in the organization.
If Didi does end up taking his talents elsewhere this offseason, the Phillies will be forced to fill that hole in the infield that he will leave. Jean Segura is one of the first names that pop to mind and it is also possible for Scott Kingery to switch back to shortstop- which is what he played primarily his rookie year. The Phillies also spent their first-round pick on Bryson Stott, who is a shortstop out of UNLV in 2019. Stott seems to have a bright future ahead of him but is still a few years out from being MLB ready.
Whether or not Didi Gregorius is back next year, he should be appreciated for the production he showed this year. Didi far outplayed all expectations for this year and he was the stability in the lineup for a year filled with uncertainty. Hopefully, the Phillies dig deep into their pockets and bring back Sir Didi next year. It should not be forgotten that if the Phillies had any sort of competent bullpen they would be a legitimate playoff contender. Didi Gregorius is certainly a guy that can help the team to get to this level and the focus should be on keeping him on the team because of this.
Lifelong Philly Sports fan and current college student at Alvernia University. Writes about Sixers and Phillies and Co-Host of Pick Swap Podcast
Twitter: @Sean_Barnard1 and @PickSwapPod