Phillies ‘check in’ on 2-time Gold Glove second baseman
By Matt Rappa
A big offseason question mark was answered on Tuesday when the Philadelphia Phillies re-signed star catcher J.T. Realmuto. Yet, their hard work is still not complete for president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld.
Shortstop Didi Gregorius — who put up impressive numbers during his first season in red pinstripes in 2020 — remains a free-agent. Fellow infielder Jean Segura was mentioned in trade rumors this offseason. The Phillies seem far from satisfied to just move forward with Segura at shortstop and Scott Kingery at second base full time in 2021.
As the free-agent shortstop market dwindles, do the Phillies turn to finding a new second baseman?
Finding a shortstop was long believed what the Phillies would ultimately do this offseason, but considering Segura and Kingery’s versatility, the club reportedly is exploring free-agent second basemen as well — a two-time Gold Glove Award winner, in particular.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Phillies are among the teams to check in on eight-year veteran Kolten Wong, “whose market is heating up.” Other reported interested teams include the St. Louis Cardinals — who the 30-year-old has played for his entire career since his 2013 debut — as well as the Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, and Chicago Cubs.
The Hawaii native played 53 games in 2020, slashing .265/.350/.326 with four doubles, two triples, one home run, 16 RBI, 20 walks and 30 strikeouts across 208 plate appearances. A season prior, he hit .285 with 25 doubles, 11 homers, 59 RBI, helping him earn a top-20 Most Valuable Player Award finish.
Wong has won back-to-back Gold Glove Awards, after committing only 11 combined errors the past two seasons, spanning 1,592 1/3 innings and 861 chances. Also, in each of the past two seasons, Wong has recorded the most assists among National League second baseman. In 2020, he turned the most double plays.
Didi Gregorius reportedly wants a multi-year deal.
While there had long been several free-agent shortstop options the Phillies could choose from, three of the rumored four in Marcus Semien, Freddy Galvis, and Andrelton Simmons each signed deals with other teams Tuesday evening — in that order. It is almost as if Realmuto’s re-signing was holding up these players potentially getting more money from the Phillies.
Now, just Gregorius remains available among the four. However, he reportedly seeks a multi-year contract, while the Phillies are interested in a one-year deal — perhaps with their eyes set on prospect Bryson Stott, or next year’s elite free-agent shortstop class that currently includes Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, and Corey Seager. Gregorius played 2020 under a one-year, prove-it deal and likely wants to avoid joining these names in next year’s free-agent class — hence why he wants at least a two-year offer.
Perhaps, the Phillies instead sign Wong to a one-year deal if Gregorius’ asking price and contract length exceed what they want to spend — barring a trade of Segura, who remains under contract in 2022 at $14.85 million, followed by a $1 million buyout option in 2023.
There are still some avenues the Phillies can go down. After re-signing Realmuto, the organization confirmed its commitment to wanting to win in the next few years. This decision on whether they re-sign Gregorius has a huge impact on possibly achieving that goal.