At the Winter Meetings, the Phillies Ponder the Infield
The Phillies infield was supposed to be the new core that would lead the Phillies into the playoffs. Instead, the Phillies decided to make some changes. No longer patrolling second base will be Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco is looking for a hot corner elsewhere. In light of these changes, what happens next as the Phillies join the other 29 teams at the annual MLB Winter Meetings?
It appears the Phillies will add one infielder. It probably will be just one. The Phillies have been linked throughout the offseason to this point to free agent shortstop Didi Gregorius. Gregorius is perhaps best-known for succeeding Derek Jeter at shortstop on the New York Yankees. When that happened, Joe Girardi was the Yankees manager. The now-Phillies skipper considers Gregorius "a favorite" in today's Jim Salisbury piece on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
igning Gregorius likely bumps Jean Segura to second base and Scott Kingery to third base. On Monday from the MLB Winter Meetings, Jon Heyman of MLB Network says that Gregorius should get $14-15 million a year on a multi-year deal. Is that too pricey for the Phillies? Is it better to instead look at third base?
Heyman had much to say about the the Phillies infield situation beyond Gregorius. Heyman reports that the Phillies are "on" Josh Donaldson. Donaldson is coming off a tremendous year with the Atlanta Braves in which he hit 37 home runs and compiled a .900 OPS. Donaldson will get a multi-year deal with a high value, but his deal will be lesser in length than that of Anthony Rendon, who should get the biggest third base deal.
The Phillies were linked to Rendon, but Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia downplayed the interest the Phillies have in Rendon and Donaldson, calling the Phillies "bystanders". In other words, the Phillies might jump in if there is an opportunity that benefits the club, but they are not actively pursuing either player.
Both Heyman and Salisbury both had a similar point: Alec Bohm could be coming to the major leagues soon. That would mean that the Phillies are looking shorter-term in the infield. While Kingery can cover third base for now, the Phillies could re-assemble the Phillies infield upon Bohm's rise to the major leagueBohm tied with catcher Deivy Grullon for the organizational home run lead in the minor leagues. Bohm could begin 2020 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, potentially rising to the major leagues soon thereafter. With that in mind, a short-term deal with an infielder could allow Bohm to rise when he is ready.
Or, should the Phillies add a shortstop such as Gregorius, third base would not blocked.
Kingery really gives the Phillies a lot of options, as the Phillies could use him in center field should the infield fill with Bohm. Of course, Kingery went into 2019 with no particular position and ended up playing plenty. Having an extra starting player who can navigate the field allows many options.
Perhaps during the Winter Meetings the Phillies will pick one.