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Phillies, shortstop Didi Gregorius agree to one-year contract, source says

Scott Lauber, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Baseball

SAN DIEGO -- It might wind up being only a short stop for Didi Gregorius, but the Phillies have found their shortstop for 2020.

Gregorius and the Phillies agreed to terms on a one-year contract, a source confirmed Tuesday as the winter meetings continued here at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. The deal is reportedly worth $14 million, which would fit within the Phillies' payroll while also keeping them below the $208 million luxury-tax threshold.

By landing Gregorius, the Phillies addressed what general manager Matt Klentak described as their "main focus" during this week's meetings. They also reunited Gregorius with manager Joe Girardi, who was a supporter of the free-agent shortstop from their days together with the New York Yankees.

The Phillies can now turn their offseason attention back to pitching. They still must supplement the starting rotation even after signing free-agent right-hander Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million contract and add arms to a bullpen that was torn apart by injuries last season.

Gregorius, who turns 30 in February, batted .238 with 16 homers and a .718 on-base plus slugging percentage last season. But he was coming back from reconstructive elbow surgery, and the Phillies are betting that his production will return to his pre-injury levels in his second year after the procedure.

By agreeing to a one-year deal, Gregorius is making the same wager. If his numbers with the Phillies are more closely aligned with, say, his 2017-18 production with the Yankees (.277 average, 52 homers, .812 OPS), he could re-enter the market next winter and aim for a higher annual salary in a multiyear arrangement.

 

"He's a very talented player," Girardi said recently of Gregorius. "Left-handed bat. Power. Plays an outstanding shortstop."

Indeed, Gregorius represents a defensive upgrade over Jean Segura, who figures to shift to either second base or third base. Scott Kingery can play second or third, too.

But Girardi also lauded Gregorius for his impact within the clubhouse. Gregorius replaced Yankees icon Derek Jeter and quickly became one of the team's leaders en route to back-to-back-to-back playoff appearances from 2017-19.

"He's a real character guy and he's a real hard worker that is a really important clubhouse presence," Girardi said. "I felt that he was important to the clubhouse in New York in what he brought every day. I've always been a big fan of Didi and what's he's been able to accomplish."

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