Jan 30, 2021

Didi's Back, And We Have Moore Reason To Be Optimistic

photo source: Yong Kim (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Didi Gregorius
Shortstop - Philadelphia Phillies
It's official - the Phillies are getting the gang back together.  A few days after signing catcher J.T. Realmuto to a 5 year, $115.5 million dollar contract, it was announced that shortstop Didi Gregorius will return to the Phillies on a 2 year, $28 million dollar deal.

When the season ended, John Middleton was talking like an owner who had no intention of spending this winter.  My expectations that they'd bring back either Realmuto or Gregorius were pretty low.  The fact that they've brought both of them back on multi-year deals is a very pleasant surprise.

Matt Moore
Left Handed Pitcher - Philadelphia Phillies
There was another signing this week that flew under the radar as a result of the Realmuto deal.  Southpaw Matt Moore signed a one year contract for $3 million (plus incentives) to compete for a spot in the back end of the Phillies rotation with Spencer Howard, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suarez and Ivan Nova.

I believe this deal could end up being one of the most important acquisitions the Phillies make for the 2021 season.  Moore was a very effective starter for the Rays after his call-up in 2011.  He was an All-Star in 2013 and finished the season with a 17-4 record and a 3.29 ERA.  He ran into a roadblock in 2014 when a torn ligament took him out of action for over a year.  His comeback after Tommy John surgery had a few moments of brilliance, including a game he started for the Giants on August 25th, 2016 where he came within one out of a no-hitting a stacked Dodgers team.  Later in the 2016 post-season, he threw 8 innings against the Cubs in Game 4 of the LDS in which gave up only 2 hits and struck out 10 batters.

Moore had a difficult stretch in 2017-2019, including a freak knee injury after fielding a bunt, but he came back strong in 2020 pitching for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan.  He went 6-3 with a 2.65 ERA and threw 7 innings of no-hit ball in Game 3 of the Japan World Series.  His season in Japan also suggests that he will be entering the 2021 season fully healthy.  When you include his rehab and post-season starts, Moore threw a total of 85 innings last year - more than any pitcher in Major League Baseball during the Covid-shortened 2020 season.  Whether he can replicate this level of success pitching for the Phillies in 2021 remains to be seen, but I expect that he'll be a significant upgrade over Jake Arrieta and is likely to win the 4th spot in the rotation.