The hiring of Dave Dombrowski as the Phillies’ new president of baseball operations brought renewed hope that the team could re-sign J.T. Realmuto, though the Phils still hadn’t made an official offer to Realmuto as of late December. “The Phillies continue to be engaged” in discussions with Realmuto and his representatives, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury writes, but the team is also doing the same with another of its high-profile free agents — shortstop Didi Gregorius.
There hasn’t been much in the way of news about Gregorius this offseason, despite a solid 2020 season that saw him hit .284/.339/.488 with 10 homers over 237 PA for Philadelphia. After accepting a one-year contract with the Phillies last winter in order to rebuild his value after an injury-shortened 2019 campaign, Gregorius’ seemingly successful plan ran into a pair of roadblocks — the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on teams’ spending habits, and a very deep shortstop market. Not only are such names as Marcus Semien and Andrelton Simmons still available on the open market, a number of prominent shortstops have been rumored to be trade chips, with two such players (Francisco Lindor to the Mets, Jose Iglesias to the Angels) addressing the shortstop needs of two would-be suitors for Gregorius and company.
The door therefore still seems open for a reunion between Gregorius and the Phillies, though it still remains to be seen how much the club is willing to spend this offseason. Salisbury raises the possibility that both Realmuto and Gregorius could be re-signed, which would run counter to the early-offseason narrative that the Phillies would be hampered by revenue losses, but it’s probably safe to assume that Dombrowski wouldn’t have taken the job without some assurance that he would be allowed to make some higher-tier additions.
It could be that Philadelphia is first waiting to see what happens with Realmuto before turning to Gregorius as a possible backup plan. The Phillies are technically set around the infield already, with Jean Segura slated to move back to his old shortstop position, Alec Bohm slated for third base and Scott Kingery tapped for regular second base duty. Signing Gregorius would allow for more roster flexibility, perhaps with Kingery moving back into a super-utility role, and it would better bolster the Phillies’ hitting depth if the DH is again part of National League lineups.
Beyond the everyday lineup, the Phillies are also still looking for more bullpen help in the wake of a disastrous performance from the 2020 relief corps. To this end, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter) reports that the Phillies and Padres are interested in closer Alex Colome, joining such previously-known suitors as the Twins and Red Sox. The Astros and Nationals were also linked to Colome earlier this winter, but the White Sox are now likely out of the running after signing Liam Hendriks.
Colome would be yet another big offseason addition for the aggressive Padres, who look to be challengers for the NL pennant but are still lacking some help at the back of the bullpen with Trevor Rosenthal and Kirby Yates both in free agency. A proven closer like Colome would only further strengthen an already solid San Diego bullpen, but the Phillies clearly have the more glaring need for relief help.
Thus far in the offseason, the Phillies have already added Jose Alvarado, Sam Coonrod, Ian Hamilton, and (on minors deals) Neftali Feliz and Michael Ynoa as they try to figure out the state of their 2021 relief picture. Colome would surely take over as the regular closer, moving Hector Neris and Alvarado into setup roles and reinforcing the late-game mix.