If there was an offseason trade I disliked more than the Chase Headley acquisition, it was the deal that brought shortstop Freddy Galvis to San Diego from Philadelphia. It’s nothing against Galvis, but I didn’t, and still don’t, see the point of giving up a decent pitching prospect for a one-year stopgap shortstop who just isn’t that good. Once again, no offense to Galvis. Really, none.
Signed by the Philadelphia Phillies back in 2006 as a 16-year-old, Galvis had spent the entirety of his professional career in Philly prior to the offseason trade to San Diego. Always viewed as an all-glove, little bat type player, Galvis has manned shortstop for the Phillies for the better part of the last three-plus seasons. Galvis has always looked like a star with the glove, but his bat has only been better than league average one time. For the majority of his professional career to date, Galvis has struggled to hit enough to be anything better than a replacement level player.
In his first full season of professional ball in 2008, spent in Low-A, Galvis slashed .238/.300/.288 with a 70 wRC+ and great defense at short. Galvis missed a good chunk of the 2009 season with a ring finger injury, but he did manage to play 63 games in High-A, posting a nearly identical offensive line to his previous season in Low-A. Despite getting a late-season taste of Double-A, where he posted a 25 wRC+ in 63 plate appearances, Galvis spent a majority of the next season back in Double-A. Galvis would have the best offensive season of his career in 2011, posting a .273/.326/.400 slash line with a 101 wRC+ and a career-high eight home runs. Galvis finished the season with a little over 100 plate appearances in Triple-A, but he wasn’t nearly as good during that time.
Despite being projected to start the 2012 season back in Triple-A, an injury to second baseman Chase Utley allowed Galvis to start the year as the starter there. Over his first 200 big league plate appearances, Galvis posted a paltry 3.5 percent walk rate with an abysmal .226/.254/.363 slash line and 64 wRC+. However, Galvis won the hearts and minds of both his coaching staff and the fans with his dazzling defensive displays. After a June back injury placed him on the disabled list, Galvis was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for Clostebol, ending his rookie season.
Galvis began the next season with the big league club as a bench piece, but struggled mightily. After a demotion to Triple-A, Galvis did find some success as a September call-up. For the year, Galvis slashed .234/.283/.385 with an 81 wRC+ in his big league time, which was a marked improvement from his rookie season. Galvis’ 2014 season was once again marred by injury, as he was only able to play 43 games at the big league level. He also took a big step back on offense, posting a 51 wRC+ over his 128 plate appearances.
In both 2015 and 2016, Galvis was the Phillies’ starting shortstop. He played in over 100 games in each season and posted similar slash lines in both years, although his 2015 season was slightly more effective with regard to both average and on-base percentage. When all was said and done, Galvis posted a wRC+ of 76 in 2015 and 73 in 2016, and he was worth 3.6 fWAR between the two seasons, making him a roughly league average player on the strength of his defense alone. However, the bat had still yet to progress to where the Phillies had hoped it would.
I would like to say 2017 was a turning point for Galvis, but it was really much of the same. However, he did post the best offensive season of his career, posting a .255/.309/.382 slash line with an 80 wRC+. It’s not really a great thing when a .309 on-base percentage is the best of a player’s career, but it was a .35 point jump from the previous season and only his second big league season over .300. In the field, Galvis was solid as always, grading out as one of the better defensive shortstops in the game. However, his defense was about half as good as it was the previous year, according to Fangraphs’ DEF metric. Given the year to year fluctuations in those metrics, it’s hard to read too much into this, but it will be interesting to see where Galvis stands in 2018. One cool thing about Galvis’ 2017 season was the fact that he played in every single game for the Phillies.
2018 Projection and Long-Term Outlook
Steamer: 89 games, 372 plate appearances, 5.9% walk rate, 18% strikeout rate, .247/.295/.377, 78 wRC+, 0.2 BsR, 5.6 DEF, 0.7 fWAR
ZIPS: 156 games, 621 plate appearances, 5.8% walk rate, 17.6% strikeout rate, .258/.304/.394, 84 wRC+, 0.6 BsR, 7.5 DEF, 1.6 fWAR
At this juncture, both Steamer and ZIPS have pretty similar offensive projections for Galvis. Despite having a career-best offensive season last year, Galvis isn’t expected to have much improvement by these numbers. It remains likely that Galvis will remain an upper echelon defender while being a bit of a black hole on offense. He will run into the occasional home run, but fans shouldn’t be expecting much on the offensive side of the ball. So was it worth giving up a top-15 prospect for one year of a stopgap shortstop who doesn’t really hit? Maybe. But it appears unlikely that Galvis sees more than a year in a Padres uniform. Especially given the fact that both Tatis and Urias are knocking on the door. But at least we get a year of watching a great defender at short, right? Right?