Phillies in it to win it, performance outweighs money as Gregorius release shows

Phillies in it to win it, performance outweighs money as Gregorius release shows

PHILADELPHIA — Bryson Stott has been the Phillies’ shortstop of the future since the team selected him in the first round of the 2019 draft.

The future began Thursday when the team released veteran Didi Gregorius, opening up the shortstop position for Stott.

Gregorius was released when the team needed a roster spot to reinstate second baseman Jean Segura from the injured list. Stott had been playing second base since Segura went down with a broken right index finger on May 31. With Segura back in his usual position for the stretch drive, Stott moves to shortstop. They were both in the starting lineup Thursday night against Washington.

Manager Rob Thomson said the decision to release Gregorius was “extremely difficult”. Both have a long history, dating back to Gregorius’ days as a New York Yankees shortstop and Thomson’s time as a member of that club’s coaching staff.

“We had a lot of great times, a lot of playoff games, ups and downs,” Thomson said. “I have a lot of respect for him. He’s been a very good player for a long time.”

Gregorius’ release came down to performance. The 32-year-old was hitting just .210 with a home run, 19 RBIs and .567 OPS in 214 at-bats in 63 games. Since July 1, he was just 0.117 (9 for 77) with a 0.148 on-base percentage.

The Phillies ate about $5.5 million letting Gregorius go. It’s part of the cost of trying to get to the playoffs for the first time in a decade. The Phils have already passed the $230 million competitive equilibrium tax threshold. They took more than $7 million to add Thursday night starter Noah Syndergaard in a trade. It’s the playoffs or the bust.

“Stott is going to be the shortstop,” Thomson said. “With (substitutes Edmundo Sosa and Yairo Munoz) we have a lot of versatility there. So Didi was really a strange man. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad player. He played very well at shortstop for us. He just didn’t hit like he normally hits. That’s not to say he won’t hit in the future, but right now he’s not hitting so we felt like we had better plays.

“It’s a tough decision, but I think it’s the right decision.

“We are in this thing and we are in it for real. We are serious about this. Hey, the game is about production. You must produce. If you don’t, then we have to make decisions.

Stott played well at second base and he could still land there later — especially if the Phillies make a play for free agent Trea Turner in the offseason. But for the rest of this pennant race, at least, the 24-year-old Las Vegan is the shortstop.

Stott helped make Gregorius expendable. Despite only hitting .196 this season, Stott’s attendances have improved as he has gained more experience during his rookie season. In 181 plate appearances in June and July, he hit just 19 times and walked 17 times. He has an OPS of 0.755 in his last 18 games. Gregorius had a .378 OPS in his last 32.

“(Stott’s) hitting over the past six weeks has been exceptional – not only against right-handers, but also against left-handers,” Thomson said. “Clutch situations, he’s on base. He had great drummers. He sees the ball well. He really proved himself to be a big league player.

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