It’s time for the Phillies to bring back Didi Gregorius

MLB: SEP 27 Phillies at Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – SEPTEMBER 27:Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius (18) during the MLB game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays on September 27, 2020 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

Following the New York Yankees bringing back D.J. LeMahieu on a six-year, $90 million deal on Friday, it is time for the Phillies to re-sign Didi Gregorius.

LeMahieu’s contract with the Yankees averages out to a $15 million AAV. LeMahieu was third in the American League MVP results with a 177 OPS+. His .364 batting average led the entire major leagues. LeMahieu was the best free agent infielder on the market, with his low-AAV deal setting the tone for the rest of the market.

Phillies Heating Up

The Yankees’ move also takes them off of the table for Gregorius as they shift their focus towards starting pitching. Meanwhile, the Phillies have been taking it slow with less than five weeks until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

That, it seems, is beginning to change. On Thursday, the Phillies executed on a one-year, $6 million deal for Archie Bradley. Bradley, along with trade acquisitions Sam Coonrod and Jose Alvarado will bolster the beleaguered bullpen while only costing the Phillies $6 million extra.

Currently, the Phillies’ overall payroll for 2021 stands at roughly $157 million, $53 million under the luxury tax threshold. The Phillies are likely not to spend up to this threshold, but they have the space available to sign Gregorius, J.T. Realmuto, and bring on another starting pitcher and relief pitcher.

Last year, Gregorius was set to earn $14 million before the COVID-19-related paycuts. While Gregorius certainly earned his salary, hitting 10 home runs with a 119 OPS+ while appearing in all 60 games in 2020, he is now unlikely to earn a larger sum in free agency.

The Shortstop Market

Meanwhile, the market for shortstops is focused on Marcus Semien. Both the Phillies and Red Sox have been linked to the 30-year old shortstop, among other teams.

Time for the Phillies to Execute

While other teams are focused on bidding for Semien, the Phillies could swoop in and bring Gregorius back. The contract would likely be another one-year, $14 million contract (possibly even less). Bringing back Gregorius would solidify the Phillies’ infield, shifting Scott Kingery into his old role as super utility.

Signing Gregorius to a shorter deal also works out for both parties. Given the marketplace, Gregorius will likely not earn the large contract a player would want in his age-30 offseason. A one-year deal gives him another shot at a larger deal after (hopefully) a season with fans back to help owners recuperate losses. Meanwhile, for the Phillies, a one-year contract helps solidify a strong lineup now, while leaving the door open for prospect Bryson Stott to take over at shortstop in the future.

Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire