By Sam Bush
The Phils are looking for an upgrade at shortstop.
That comes as little surprise after Dave Dombrowski already made clear that veteran Didi Gregorius is not guaranteed the starting job next year — in spite of the $14M he’s owed in 2022 (the second season of a two-year contract).
The Phils could certainly jump into the free-agent market at shortstop, but doing so would impact their ability to fill the top needs listed by their second-year president. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal suggests it may be something they pursue more opportunistically, in the event that a high-end shortstop’s market doesn’t materialize as hoped.
One potential in-house alternative to Gregorius comes in the form of 2019 first-rounder Bryson Stott, whom Dombrowski praised at length Wednesday at the GM meetings in Carlsbad.
Phils fans, in particular, will want to check out the full slate of Dombrowski’s quotes to draw their own conclusions, but he explained that he’s already told Stott to come to Spring Training “with the mindset of trying to win a job” rather than simply being happy to be there. No promises have been made to Stott, but Dombrowski acknowledged that his presence impacts the manner in which the Phils will approach the free-agent market for shortstops.
Stott, who turned 24 shortly after the season ended, soared from Class-A to Triple-A (10 games) in 2021, hitting a combined .299/.390/.486 with 16 home runs, 26 doubles, a pair of triples, 10 steals (in 14 tries), a 22.2% strikeout rate and a 13.3% walk rate across three levels. The No. 14 overall selection in 2019 also played in this year’s Arizona Fall League and turned in a hearty .299/.446/.403 line in 92 plate appearances.
Stott could theoretically move to another spot (e.g. second base, third base) if the Phils add a shortstop or if Gregorius looks resurgent in Spring Training following an offseason elbow surgery. However, the combined presence of Stott, Gregorius, first baseman Rhys Hoskins, veteran second baseman Jean Segura and young third baseman Alec Bohm (who finished third in 2020 Rookie of the Year voting before struggling in 2021) gives the Phils more options in the infield than in the outfield or at the back of the bullpen.