The Dodgers and Rays continue the World Series with Game 3 Friday night. The other 28 MLB teams are already in offseason mode, and according to George King of the New York Post, the Los Angeles Angels have early interest in free agent-to-be shortstop Didi Gregorius. King notes their interest is "likely advance work" seeing how free agency has yet to begin.
The Angels went 26-34 this past season, missing the postseason for the sixth consecutive year despite the expanded 16-team format. Incumbent shortstop Andrelton Simmons is scheduled to become a free agent, and while he remains a fantastic defender, he's not much of a hitter, and the Halos could be seeking an offensive upgrade at the position without sacrificing much defense.
Gregorius, 30, signed a one-year "prove yourself" contract with the Phillies last winter. He struggled with the Yankees in 2019, hitting .238/.276/.441 in 82 games after returning from Tommy John surgery. With the Phillies in 2020, Sir Didi hit .284/.339/.488 with 10 homers in 60 games. That's right in line with his pre-Tommy John surgery output (.277/.326/.486 from 2017-18).
The Angels lean right-handed with their lineup -- Shohei Ohtani are their only lefty bats -- though perhaps it doesn't matter when two of your righties are Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. Still, Gregorius is a left-handed hitter, and signing him to replace Simmons would give the team's lineup a little more balance.and
Hypothetically, manager Joe Maddon would be able to run out a lineup along these lines on a regular basis:
- 2B David Fletcher
- CF Mike Trout
- 1B Jared Walsh
- 3B Anthony Rendon
- SS Didi Gregorius
- LF Justin Upton
- DH Shohei Ohtani
- C Max Stassi
- RF Jo Adell
The Angels best lineup does not include Albert Pujols -- he hit .224/.270/.395 in 2020 -- and, to their credit, they acknowledge that. Pujols started only 13 of the team's final 23 games this year. There's also no room in that lineup for Franklin Barreto, a former top prospect who came over in the Tommy La Stella trade. Barreto, 25 in February, is a career .175/.207/.342 hitter in the big leagues, and shouldn't stand in the way of an infield addition.
Of course, the Angels do not have a general manager right now.and have yet to name a replacement. That begs the question: who in the organization has interest in Gregorius, exactly? Owner Arte Moreno has a history of being meddlesome and this may be an indication the same will be true going forward with the next general manager.
. World Series Game 7 is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 28, so the latest the free agent signing period can open is Tues., Nov. 3.