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2017 Phillies Player Preview: The Mysteries of Freddy Galvis

The longtime Phillie flashed power and defense in 2016, but his future with the team remains in question

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Philadelphia Phillies Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

When I wrote about Freddy Galvis a year ago, I suggested that his likely place in Phillies history was as the shortstop space-filler between franchise icon Jimmy Rollins and rising badass J.P. Crawford. That’s still his likely fate, though there’s an added dimension now: with Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz gone, Galvis is the current longest tenured Phillie. In fact, it’s not even close: after Freddy (debut: April 5, 2012), the next guys are Cesar Hernandez, Luis Garcia and Cameron Rupp, all in 2013.

Like his two fellow infielders, and keeping in mind that we’re speaking in relative terms, Galvis turned in a career year in 2016. After four years in the majors that were less "glove-first" than "glove-only," Galvis set a slew of offensive highs last season: 26 doubles, 20 homers, 67 RBI, 17 steals. At the same time, his defensive work, which had dipped in 2015, rebounded sharply, as Galvis reduced his errors from 17 to 8 and saw his Ultimate Zone Rating at short improve from 0.6 to 15.1.

And yet none of this did much to alter what we’ve all thought about Freddy for two solid years now: he’s only keeping the position warm until Crawford takes over. The reason why is that even as he showed previously unsuspected power and speed, Galvis remained a prolific maker of outs: 477 in all, second in the NL to Matt Kemp. Freddy’s .274 on-base percentage in 2016 ranked dead last among 146 players who qualified for the batting title. Particularly by comparison with Crawford, also a plus defender whose on-base skills are his calling card at the plate, that’s not going to cut it.

If and when Crawford shows himself ready, Galvis could present the Phillies with a pleasant problem were he to more or less maintain his power production and raise his on-base rate even back to the modest .302 he put up in 2015. Galvis offers good defense at three infield positions, and depending on whether or not Hernandez can sustain his own 2016 gains and how Scott Kingery develops, he could be part of the answer at second base. But he’s also getting expensive: with a $4.35 million price tag for his age-27 season this year and one arbitration season left before free agency, the notion of Galvis as young, cheap stopgap is out of date.

Still, as the team readies for the jump back into competitive relevance, they could do worse than keeping around a good-glove utilityman with some pop and speed. And having ridden out a grim five years since the Phillies last tasted success, it would be nice to see him stick it out until the good times return.