By Sam Bush
The Phillies have struck a deal with free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius on a $14 million, one-year contract.
Gregorius spent the last five years with the New York Yankees, the first three playing for new Phils manager Joe Girardi as Derek Jeter’s successor at shortstop.
Girardi replaced Gabe Kapler as the Phillies’ manager following a disappointing season in which they faded to fourth place in the NL East. The team went 81-81 despite signing slugger Bryce Harper to a $330 million, 13-year contract.
Gregorius’ 2019 debut was delayed until June 7 after Tommy John surgery on Oct. 17, 2018, to repair an elbow ligament torn during Game 2 of the AL Division Series at Boston. The left-handed hitter batted .238 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs this year, leaving him with a .264 average, 110 homers and 417 RBIs in eight major league seasons.
“Didi has been a great player for us. He’s a great person,” current Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Teams are lucky to have him because he’s a really good player. And I think obviously going into a winter where he’s healthy, would expect a really full, productive season from him.”
Gregorius’ departure leaves the Yankees even more right-handed, especially with switch-hitting Aaron Hicks sidelined until at least mid-season following Tommy John surgery. The Yankees had 71.2% of their plate appearances by right-handed batters this year, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, their most since moving into the original Yankee Stadium in 1923.
“You’re not always going to have the perfect roster,” Boone said. “There is certainly a chance that we could be very right-handed, but we also know there is a really good chance that we will be a really good offense.”