Phillies

Carlos Santana leaves behind as polarizing an on-field legacy as a 1-year Philly athlete can

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AP Images

Carlos Santana leaves behind as polarizing an on-field legacy as a 1-year Philly athlete can

Carlos Santana is gone. 

And though he was here only one year, he left behind one of the most polarizing on-field legacies of any Phillie in recent memory.

Santana made a lot of money in 2018 — $10 million in the form of a signing bonus, $15 million more in salary. Great expectations from fans tend to follow when a player is paid that much. 

Yet like everything else about Santana's season, the context and nuance are important. It may be more fun to yell, "He sucks, he wasn't worth the money," and it's certainly a way to get more pageviews or to pander to some online commenters. But he didn't suck. He just wasn't worth the money.

The Phillies' front office itself would probably tell you Santana wasn't worth $20 million a year. They paid him that for three reasons: They had the money, they wanted him to commit quickly, and they sought a way to lengthen the lineup.

Santana did make the Phillies' lineup better in 2018. No, he wasn't a top-10 first baseman, but it's disingenuous to act like there was no production. 

Santana played 161 games for the Phillies. He hit .229 with a .352 on-base percentage, 24 homers and 86 RBI. His .766 OPS was 5 percent higher than the league average.

With runners in scoring position, Santana had a .389 OBP. With a runner on third and less than two outs, he hit .370. When the bases were loaded, he went 5 for 9 with a grand slam and a bases-clearing triple.

Santana wasn’t worthless the way many in this city portrayed him every day for six straight months. If he was, the Mariners wouldn't have agreed to take him on in the Jean Segura trade. If Santana was worthless, he'd be viewed as merely a bad contract and the Mariners would have held out for a different sort of deal.

Some will label the Santana signing a colossal mistake. If it was a colossal mistake, then why was it so easy for Phillies GM Matt Klentak to get out from under it in less than a year? Shouldn't that be the most telling factor of all?

The Phillies, a year ago, needed offense and tried something unorthodox by filling a position — first base — that was already filled. The best-case scenario would have involved Rhys Hoskins playing passable, Pat Burrell-like defense in left field and Santana's offense outweighing any fielding concerns.

Santana provided some offense but not enough to outweigh the defensive concerns. And Hoskins, after looking OK in left field late in 2017, was not effective there in 2018, grading out as the majors' worst defensive left fielder in 15 years.

With Segura now rather than Santana, the Phillies' roster makes so much more sense. In fact, because Santana led to Segura, it's hard to say the Phils lost much of anything through the whole process.

Could've been worse. Imagine rooting for the team that gave Chris Davis $161 million, Jason Heyward $184 million or Jordan Zimmermann $110 million. Questionable contracts are handed out by numerous teams every offseason. A mistake can't be so bad if it's so easily fixed. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Phillies fans, you're gonna love Didi Gregorius based on his Twitter personality

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USA Today Images/NBC Sports Philadelphia

Phillies fans, you're gonna love Didi Gregorius based on his Twitter personality

MLB free agency is in full swing and the newest addition to the Phillies, Didi Gregorius, has quite the personality on Twitter.

More specifically, he really enjoys tweeting after his team wins ... especially with emojis.

It almost feels like Groundhog Day scrolling through his feed. And by the looks of things, he rarely forgets.

Take a look:

Of course, these are only a few of the many he has tweeted out. If you have the time though, look at the rest — there are definitely some hidden gems.

Will he continue this tradition with his new club? Will we be able to see tweets from him stating that the bullpen was worth four fire emojis? What emojis will he assign for Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins and the rest of the team?

These are the hard-hitting questions we want answered right after the news of a signing breaks — but we'll just have to wait and see once Spring Training comes to a close in a few months.

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Phillies agree to deal with shortstop Didi Gregorius

Phillies agree to deal with shortstop Didi Gregorius

Updated: 6:28 p.m. 

The Phillies got their pitcher last week.

Now they have their infielder.

The club on Tuesday reached agreement with free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius, according to sources. The deal is for one year and $14 million, according to sources. The New York Post initially reported the agreement.

The signing likely concludes the Phillies' heavy lifting for the offseason. They signed right-handed pitcher Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million deal last week.

The Phils are still looking for some bullpen help and starting pitching depth, but those are expected to be low-profile additions. 

The Gregorius signing puts the Phils within about $6 million of baseball’s $208 million luxury-tax threshold. Phillies ownership has not ruled out going over the threshold and paying a 20 percent penalty on overages, but the decision to do so might not come until the 2020 season unfolds and the team sees where it is in the standings. General manager Matt Klentak on Monday said he expects the team to contend. The Phils have not made the playoffs or had a winning season since 2011.

Gregorius’ addition means Jean Segura will come off shortstop in 2020. He will likely play second base, though a move to third is not out of the question. Scott Kingery will likely fill the remaining spot with Adam Haseley getting a shot to win the center field job.

In Philadelphia, Gregorius will be reunited with Joe Girardi, his manager with the New York Yankees from 2015-2017. Girardi was hired by the Phillies in October.

Girardi does not hide his affection for Gregorius.

“He’s a treat to be around,” Girardi said last week. “He brings a smile every day and works extremely hard. He’s a very talented player. I think there’s 30 teams that would love Didi’s services. I’m a big fan.”

The Phillies’ need for infield help became acute after the team cut ties with second baseman Cesar Hernandez and third baseman Maikel Franco last week.

Gregorius, who made $11.75 million with the Yankees last season, turns 30 in February. He hit .277 with a .791 OPS and averaged 24 homers and 81 RBIs with the Yankees from 2016-2018. He played only a half-season as he recovered from elbow surgery in 2019. He hit just .238 but had 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 324 at-bats. By signing a one-year deal, Gregorius can rebuild his value and go back on the free-agent market next season. The Phils can attempt to retain him with a qualifying offer and would receive draft-pick compensation if he leaves.

Last week, Girardi was asked what Gregorius would bring to the Phillies.

“Left-handed bat, power, plays an outstanding shortstop,” Girardi said. “He can play second, as well. He’s a real character guy and he’s a real hard worker that is a really important clubhouse presence. I felt that he was important to the clubhouse in New York in what he brought every day. I’ve always been a big fan of Didi and what’s he’s been able to accomplish. You have to remember, I got him when he first came over and he was replacing a legend (Derek Jeter) and how difficult that was and to see the growth that he made was really pleasing to me.”

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