The Philadelphia Philies have re-signed another hitter from their 2020 roster. The team has reportedly agreed with Didi Gregorious on a two year, $28M contract. The news was first reported by The Athletic’s Jayson stark.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was first with the financial details.

Running it back?

Gregorious’ return means the Phillies will be returning their 1-7 hitters from most of last season. Their only murky spot in their lineup is center field, but that is most likely to be a combination of Scott Kingery, Adam Haseley, and Roman Quinn. Gregorious thrived in his first season with the Phillies, hitting 10 home runs and notching an .827 OPS. He led the team in average (.284), hits (61), and RBI (40) in addition to finishing third in home runs.

The Phillies offense as a whole finished 9th in offensive WAR, 7th in OPS, and 6th in total runs. Their total offense was not a problem last year. It makes sense to want to retain the major pieces of said offense, and that certainly includes Gregorious. He and Alec Bohm make for a shaky left side of the infield defensively, but the Phillies are hoping both should hit well enough to where it isn’t a major concern.

Gregorious’ contract leaves the Phillies payroll at roughly $14M under the competitive balance tax. In fact, there’s a good chance the Phillies enter 2021 with a lower payroll than they did in 2020, albeit not by much. Nevertheless, this Gregorious contract still leaves them with more room to improve. 

But what about the pitching?

We all know the area the Phillies need to improve is their pitching, primarily their bullpen. It’s been discussed ad nauseam all offseason. However, one thing to remember is that the Phillies were a handful of bullpen meltdowns away from qualifying for the postseason. Yes, it would have been in a very unusual season with a shortened schedule and an expanded playoff field. But, it appears the Phillies correctly identified that their offense was good enough to get into the postseason. 

The bullpen overhaul is still a work in progress. They are still at least one more veteran reliever away from making the fans feel somewhat confident the ‘pen has the ability to be at least average. But that is the key. The Phillies don’t need an elite bullpen. They don’t even need a “good” bullpen. The Phillies lost 8 games last season in which they led by 3 or more runs. They had 14 blown leads as opposed to 11 saves. A regular run-of-the-mill-bad bullpen as opposed to all time bad gets them into the postseason in 2020. The bullpen is not currently good enough on paper to confidently say they are good enough for a playoff team. But they are certainly good enough on paper to say they are better than 2020.

Rotation?

This is another area where the Phillies still have work to do. They will have Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin as their top three starters. Anything after that is still a guess. The team reportedly signed Matt Moore to a one year, $3M contract. Moore pitched last year in japan and although he pitched well there, but he alone doesn’t inspire much confidence. 

Perhaps the Phillies look to add another veteran starter before the season. But it seems likely that Moore will be their number 4 and one of Vince Velasquez, Spencer Howard, Ivan Nova, or perhaps Ranger Suarez will be their fifth. Ideally, Moore’s success in Japan translates and allows him to offer some stability and decent innings while Howard overcomes his rookie struggles and captures the fifth spot. 

The Phillies starters last year were third in WAR and tenth in ERA. Their top three, assuming Eflin turns in another good season, is a strength. However, they still need to find quality innings from their back end. Part of the Phillies infamous collapses over the last two seasons were due to their starting pitching falling apart after injuries ravaged their back half. They still must find some sort of pitching depth in order to prevent another disaster.