The Phillies spent over $700 million on free agents the last three offseasons. Spending all over baseball could be impacted this winter by revenues lost because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that's not going to stop us from taking a daily look these next few weeks at some free agents who would fill needs and help the Phillies get better.
Today: Centerfielder George Springer
Career to date
The Houston Astros, led by general manager Ed Wade, selected Springer out of the University of Connecticut in the first round (No. 11 overall) of the 2011 draft. It was a brilliant pick. Springer joined a largely homegrown core that helped the Astros win the 2017 World Series and enjoy the greatest run of success in franchise history.
Springer is a three-time All-Star and a stellar postseason performer. He was World Series MVP in 2017 and has 19 homers, 38 RBIs and a .895 OPS in 292 postseason plate appearances.
Springer brings power and on-base skills to the leadoff spot. Over the last four seasons among leadoff hitters, he ranks first in the majors in homers (109), sixth in OPS (.884) and 14th in on-base percentage (.366). He knows how to start a game with a bang as evidenced by his 39 career leadoff homers. That’s eighth-best all-time. He ranks fifth on the Astros’ all-time home run chart with 174, trailing Jeff Bagwell (449), Lance Berkman (326), Craig Biggio (291) and Jimmy Wynn (223).
Defensively, Springer is well above average with 13 defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs data, over the last two seasons in center field.
After a slow start, Springer hit .341 with two doubles, two triples, nine homers, 15 RBIs and a 1.097 over his final 23 games to finish the shortened season at .265/14/32/.899.
How he’d impact the Phillies
He’d bring big offense to the top of a lineup that, at the moment, needs to replace J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius.
He’d stop the revolving door in center field and provide strong defense at a position where it is crucial.
He knows how to get to the postseason and excel once he gets there.
He plays with passion, energy and emotion.
Is that enough?
This is a tricky market because many teams are retrenching due to COVID-19-related revenue losses. While many free agents might feel the pinch, Springer is viewed as one of a few top players on the market who will still get big deals. The others include Realmuto and Trevor Bauer, a frontrunner to win the National League Cy Young award.
Springer turned 31 in September so a four- or five-year deal worth north of $100 million seems likely. He’s from Connecticut and word is he’d like to play closer to home. The Mets and Red Sox are both expected to be in the running to sign him. If the Mets prioritize Springer over Realmuto, that could be good news for the Phillies, who would still like to hammer out a reunion with the free-agent catcher.
The Phillies have not had a winning season since 2011. For them to get Springer, Realmuto would have to sign elsewhere and they’d probably have to be, by far, the highest bidder. Given the needs the team has all over the diamond, it’s difficult to see that happening.
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