Will the Phillies rely on a top prospect instead of signing a free-agent shortstop?
However, the Phillies also have Bryson Stott in their farm system, a top prospect shortstop expected to debut in 2022, and he can’t get here fast enough.
With Didi Gregorius still owed over $15M in the final year of his contract next season, signing a big free-agent shortstop like Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, or even the more affordable Trevor Story would consume a lot of the Phillies’ spending money. If they couldn’t find a trade partner for Gregorius, they’d have to pay two shortstops; the AAV of any of the aforementioned free agents combined with Gregorius’ contract would amount to the total payroll of some of the smaller-market teams. And even if they do manage to unload Gregorius, the receiving team would likely demand the Phillies pay part of his contract. In short: it’s an expensive situation.
But Stott could and should be the affordable solution, and President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski seems to be alluding to that being the case. Earlier this month, he told reporters how he told Stott to approach 2022:
"“I’ve told him, ‘You should come to spring training with the mindset of trying to win a spot with the big league club.”"
That certainly makes it sound like Dombrowski is leaving the door wide open for Stott to debut as soon as possible and take over for Gregorius. It’s certainly the fiscally responsible and logical move, considering the Phillies have been developing Stott for years and he’s one of their best prospects, who would only make the major-league minimum.
Is top prospect Bryson Stott ready to be the Phillies’ shortstop in 2022?
Stott skyrocketed through the farm system in 2021, beginning the season at High-A, spending the bulk at Double-A, and finally, playing 10 games at Triple-A. Over 80 games for Double-A Reading, he hit .301/.368/.481 with a .848 OPS, 10 home runs, and 22 doubles. He stole 10 bases over 14 attempts between the three levels.
Despite their number-two prospect’s lack of experience at Triple-A, Dombrowski feels confident in the young infielder:
"“I’ve never been averse to jumping a guy from Double A to the big leagues.I’ve done it many times and had good success. He’s had some time (at Triple A) and has played well in the Arizona Fall League, so I am not averse.”"
During his storied career as an MLB executive, Dombrowski drafted some of the most dazzling players of the last two decades, including Cy Young winners Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello, and All-Stars Curtis Granderson and Nick Castellanos. He’s also made it clear that his top offseason priorities are the bullpen and outfield, not a shortstop.
The stage is set for Stott.