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Will Phillies try to retain Didi Gregorius with a one-year qualifying offer?

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As baseball's offseason takes shape, we will take a look at each player on the Phillies 2020 roster and where they fit in the future. We'll go through the roster by uniform number, lowest to highest for position players, highest to lowest for pitchers, and alternate daily.

Today: Shortstop Didi Gregorius

Career rundown

Gregorius is the guy who succeeded Derek Jeter at shortstop with the New York Yankees. After a slow start in 2015, he won over Yankees fans and played in four postseasons with that club. Though not considered one of the game's elite shortstops, he is more than solid. He's been an above-average run producer at his position the last five seasons and a steady defender. 

How he became a Phillie

From the field to the clubhouse, Joe Girardi loved everything Gregorius contributed when the two were together with the Yankees. With Gleyber Torres ready to take over at short, the Yankees let Gregorius become a free agent last winter and Girardi pushed to get him in Philadelphia. Some teams shied away from Gregorius last winter because he had Tommy John surgery in 2018. Gregorius took a one-year, $14 million offer from the Phillies with the idea of playing well and getting back out on the free-agent market quickly.

2020 season

Gregorius proved to be an excellent fit with the Phillies. The team benefited from his energy and upbeat leadership, and, of course, from his bat. 

Among big-league shortstops, he ranked sixth in batting average (.286), ninth in on-base percentage (.339), seventh in slugging (.493), tied for fifth in hits (61), tied for fifth in homers (10), third in RBIs (40) and seventh in OPS (.832).

 

Advanced defensive metrics aren't always kind to Gregorius. According to Fangraphs data, he ranked 14th among big-league shortstops with minus-2 defensive runs saved, but according to the eye played well at the position and was an upgrade over Jean Segura the year before.

What lies ahead

Gregorius' bet on himself was a good one. His play in 2020 certainly warrants the multi-year, free-agent deal that he desires — at least in normal times. The pandemic could soften this free-agent market and you have to wonder if a player such as Gregorius would be impacted if teams cut back on spending.

Gregorius turns 31 in February. It will be interesting to see if the Phillies, who have admitted to facing a budget crunch, will extend to him a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer five days after the World Series. Having Gregorius for another year of his prime would certainly be nice for the team, especially with shortstop prospect Bryson Stott percolating in the minors. 

If the Phils make Gregorius a qualifying offer, the question then becomes: Does he bet on himself again and take it before venturing back out on the free-agent market before his age-32 season? (That free-agent class, by the way, will be loaded with top shortstops Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, Trevor Story, Carlos Correa and Corey Seager and that could factor in Gregorius' decision.) Or will he reject it and take his chances on getting a multi-year deal, perhaps something even with the Phillies later in the offseason if they don't re-sign J.T. Realmuto?  

The Phillies are looking at a gaping hole at shortstop and in the lineup if they don't bring back Gregorius. Segura, signed for two more years and owed $30 million, would probably have to return to the position unless the Phils made a play for Marcus Semien or Andrelton Simmons on a short-term deal. So much depends on how the market shapes up and what happens to the Phillies' budget vis-à-vis Realmuto.

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