The Phillies’ bench this year has been pretty good. You can make a credible argument that the collective performances of the group has kept the team afloat this year. When players have gone down to injury or ineptitude (or both), there has been someone there to pick them up. Ronald Torreyes is becoming something of a folk hero around here due to his fundamentals and solid glovework at several positions. Brad Miller has had a three home run game in Chicago and recently brought the team back from the dead with a walkoff grand slam that might be the moment of the season so far. The outfield has gotten a nice performance from Travis Jankowski to help rescue the team from a black hole in centerfield.
So why would the team trade for another bench player in Freddy Galvis?
The answer is pretty easy: Didi Gregorius.
Prior to his solid game on Sunday, Gregorius was mired in an 0 for 14 stretch over five games. If one wants to cherry pick beginning and ending points, you can go back to July 9 and see that since then, over 62 plate appearances, Gregorius has hit .125/.210/.232 before Sunday’s game. He’s been terrible at the plate and has been equally as bad in the field. Never really regarded as more than solid average with the glove, Gregorius is tied for 35th, or last, in MLB in outs above average (OAA) among qualified shortstops. It’s been a completely horrible season for Gregorius, one that seems out of the ordinary for him.
There has always been a fear that playing Torreyes too much would expose him and his shortcomings as a player, even if it came at the expense of Gregorius’s playing time. In their search to find someone who could fill in for Gregorius in the event of another injury or ineffectiveness, the team clearly wanted someone who wouldn’t face that risk of overexposure, yet someone who would be relatively cheap. They weren’t going to dance in the Trevor Story waters, nor were they going to pay the price it took to pry Javier Baez loose from the Cubs. They wanted someone cheap both salary wise and cheap in terms of the return package.
While Galvis may have lost a step in the field (he’s 20th on that OAA list at -1), that still would represent an upgrade over Gregorius should the team pursue either a direct takeover at the position or at least a timeshare. Galvis’ bat is the same as it always is: doesn’t walk, makes some contact and can pop one every now and then. Even still, all his numbers are better than Gregorius at this point in the season. Should the team decide that Galvis was the new starter once he gets healthy, there would probably be a marginal upgrade at the shortstop position.
Now, let’s say that the team decides to continue with Gregorius at shortstop. Using Galvis and Torreyes as defensive replacements late in the game would greatly improve the team defense on the left side.
Starters, by OAA: Gregorius at SS (-10), Bohm at 3B (-4)
Substitutes, by OAA: Galvis at SS (-1), Torreyes at 3B (3)
It’s a substantial upgrade that might win a game or two for the team as we’ve seen them lose games late on defensive miscues that could be avoided simply by having a competent glove at the position. The possible loss of offensive firepower that Gregorius and Bohm might provide would be offset by that defensive upgrade Galvis and Torreyes would provide. It may not be the most Earth-shattering move of the deadline, but for a team that is looking to win every game they can, any way they can, it’s a solid B move for them.