SAN DIEGO - The Philadelphia Phillies have signed free agent shortstop Didi Gregorius and that’s both good and bad news for the Nationals.
One, it makes the Phillies lineup stronger, especially if Gregorius can shake off his struggles with the Yankees from a year ago. But it also helps the Nationals in that it likely takes away one less team speculated to be in the competition for signing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon.
The Phillies believe they have taken care of their two biggest needs this offseason. They signed free agent pitcher Zack Wheeler to a five-year $118 million contract and now they’ve added a shortstop for one year.
With Gregorius at short, the Phillies plan to move last year’s shortstop, Jean Segura to either second base or third base. Scott Kingery will play the position that Segura does not. Rhys Hoskins is the first baseman.
The Phillies, 81-81 with a fourth-place finish last season, didn’t give contracts to second baseman César Hernández and third baseman Maikel Franco, and reports said that they were at least talking to Rendon. But signing Rendon would have gone over the luxury tax threshold of $208 million and ownership wasn’t in favor of that.
Gregorius, 29, took over at shortstop for Yankees legend Derek Jeter and hit 97 home runs in five seasons in pinstripes. In 2018, Gregorius averaged .268 with a .335 on-base percentage, 27 home runs and 10 stolen bases.
He had Tommy John surgery and started the season on the injured list. He played in 82 games and hit .238.
The Phillies will also benefit from the return of outfielder Andrew McCutchen next season. He was an effective leadoff batter for the Phillies, but injury derailed his season.
And even though Wheeler is signed away from the division-rival Mets, new manager Joe Girardi is going to have questions in the rotation.
The Phillies’ big three includes Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta, who might be past his prime.
“We have one and 1-A with Wheeler and Nola,’’ Girardi says.
If the Phillies do anything more this offseason, it will be minor moves for the bullpen and rotation.