After signing a one-year contract to prove his worth this past offseason, Kiermaier posted a solid year both offensively and defensively for the Jays. The Jays sorely needed an upgrade on outfield defence for 2023 and Kiermaier performed beyond expectations in that regard. During the season, he made all difficult plays look routine, along with doling out some spectacular ones just for good measure. In the end, with his .989 fielding percentage and 18 DRS, he captured his fourth Gold Glove in the process.
Kiermaier also put together an uncharacteristically strong offensive season as well, as he hit .265 with a .741 OPS, 58 runs scored, 21 doubles, 6 triples, 8 home runs, 36 RBI and 14 stolen bases. He managed to accomplish that all while batting mostly in the bottom part of the lineup. Not only that, he also became a fan favourite, along with being one of the beloved leaders in the clubhouse.
With his elite defence at play, Kiermaier would be the perfect complement to any offensive-heavy ballclub. The Yankees were the odds-on favourite to land the Gold Glover, but with their recent acquisitions of Verdugo and Soto to join Aaron Judge in the outfield, their starting trio appears to be set. As a result, the Phillies instead could be the surprising darkhorse team jumping in on the Kiermaier sweepstakes.
The Phillies are also an offensively-focused ballclub that lacked solid defence this past season. Despite rookie Johan Rojas stabilizing their outfield defence with his elite defensive abilities in center field after being called up mid-season, his bat was still not MLB-ready, as it became quite evident as he was exposed during the playoffs. In addition, The Athletic (subscription required) recently revealed that the Phillies had varying levels of confidence in having both Rojas and Brandon Marsh as everyday players for 2024. Also, by exploring external center field options, it could buy the time for Rojas if needed.
With the Phillies in win-now mode, and Rojas ultimately needing some more time to develop his bat, they may not have the time to wait. As a result, Kiermaier would be able to provide the same elite defence along with a dependable offensive bat for the Phillies as they aim to reach the postseason for a third consecutive year.