Whither Galvis in 2014?

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Freddy Galvis is 24 years old. He's not an offensive force or anything, but his defense is really good. Still, you know, Rollins and Utley. What do the Phillies do with him?

I love Freddy Galvis, right?  He is an exciting, young player with actual talent and stuff.  We all know the deal: light-hitting, but with occasional power.  Slick glove and good arm.

Jimmy Rollins is a Phillies legend.  He is the best shortstop the team has ever had.  He is in line to make a stack of money this year and break a bunch of franchise counting stat records.  He's going to make $11 million dollars this year.  He had a decent spring and end of the year in 2013, sandwiched around an appalling middle, mostly July and August.  Check the monthly splits on OPS here.  It has been suggested that Rollins and Galvis should duke it out for shortstop supremacy in a spring training Thunderdome, and I am on board with that.

Here is an OPS leader board for shortstops in MLB during 2013, sorted by OPS among qualified shortstops.  Rollins is 12th out of 17 with an OPS of .667.  He is also 12 out of 17 if you sort on wRC+ with an 84.  He was 12th out of 17 in fWAR among qualified shortstops, too, generating 1.6 fWAR, which means his contract value is just about right.

What is Freddy Galvis in comparison?  His OPS for 2013 (on a sample size of 222 plate appearances) was .668.  His wRC+ was 81. Very similar to Rollins offensively, except in baserunning, where Rollins trumps Galvis.  Rollins also rates as a better defender. Rollins also shows a much better ability to get on base, even including the awful slump in the middle of the year.  The defensive difference is not something I can swallow easily, especially since Galvis played everywhere last year, but  not much at short.

Rollins may still be a better all-around player than Galvis, but not by much.  It is unlikely that the Phillies will sit Rollins, given their propensity to play veterans at the expense of younger players.

Bill Baer reviewed the Phillies continuing interest in collecting spare middle infielders here, and I am inclined to agree with his assessment that the team will send Galvis to Lehigh Valley to start the year.  Like Dajafi, I am not opposed to a spring training showcase for Galvis, if only to reduce wear and tear on Rollins, though Dajafi suggested something more competitive than that.

Galvis looks like he may be able to hit enough to stick as a middle-of-the-road shortstop in MLB in a defense-first role with occasional pop.  In a cost-controlled role, that is not a bad bet. Still, if we see the Rollins that was on the field in the bookends of the 2013 season, the Phillies will be better off with Rollins in the majors and with Galvis getting lots of regular plate appearances at Lehigh Valley.

If there is an injury to Rollins or if he performs poorly, the team won't miss a beat by promoting Galvis.  Galvis is an insurance policy.  If the Phillies are out of it at the trade deadline, it would make sense to move Rollins to a contender that is looking for a still-solid MLB player who has experience in a pennant race and in the playoffs.  Rollins controls this scenario with his 10 and 5 rights, however.

Rollins has an option for 2015 that vests with 600 plate appearances in 2014 or with a combined 1,100 combined plate appearances in 2013-2014 and if he is not on the DL at the end of 2014.  He had 666 plate appearances in 2013, and he has not had fewer than 600 in any non-callup year in his career other than 2010.  In other words, his option vests with plate appearance 434, as long as he avoids the DL.  There are lower-dollar fallback player and team options in the contract if he doesn't vest, but they are much cheaper.

The bottom line here is that the Phillies are probably better off with Rollins on the field this year, letting Galvis toil anonymously yet again in Lehigh Valley.  Rollins' contract will probably vest for another year, and he may not agree to be traded.  If I am a GM who needs a shortstop come July, a half a season of Rollins may be appealing.  A season and a half might not be, since he figures to continue to decline.

A third party to this matter is J.P. Crawford.  Crawford is going to be playing his second season with the Phillies organization.  He was bumped to Lakewood at the end of last year, and he will start there.  Fast forward ahead through perhaps 2 more years of Jimmy Rollins to January of 2016: Will we be looking at Freddy Galvis as a starting shortstop or at Crawford?

It's easy to see that Galvis is getting squeezed at both ends.  And with Utley signed at second, it is hard to see where else Galvis realistically plays for the long-term on this team.

While he is an insurance policy for the Phillies for Rollins and Utley, he is also an intriguing player with infield versatility and a weak (but good enough) bat. He may be a cost-controlled middle-of-the-road shortstop for some team in MLB that is hard up.  He appears to be an asset that the Phillies may not need right now, either, what with the surfeit of players line Reid Brignac and Ronny Cedeno.  The insurance policy role can be filled with other players.  Galvis' value is partly in that he is on the right side of 27, but that diminishes with each year.

This hurts me, but it might be best for the Phillies (and Galvis) for the team to showcase Galvis in spring training and wait and see how Rollins holds up.  If Rollins will not agree to get moved at the deadline, the Phillies should move Galvis instead.  With a lower cost and similar utility, the return prospect haul may be better.  In addition, they could convert a spare SS into a player of more organizational need.

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