Phillies should trade second baseman Cesar Hernandez this offseason

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 30: Cesar Hernandez #16 of the Philadelphia Phillies makes a running catch on a ball hit by Kurt Suzuki #24 of the Atlanta Braves (NOT PICTURED) in the top of the sixth inning in game one of the doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park on August 30, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Braves defeated the Phillies 9-1. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 30: Cesar Hernandez #16 of the Philadelphia Phillies makes a running catch on a ball hit by Kurt Suzuki #24 of the Atlanta Braves (NOT PICTURED) in the top of the sixth inning in game one of the doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park on August 30, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Braves defeated the Phillies 9-1. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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The Phillies have one of the better leadoff hitters in all of baseball in Cesar Hernandez and he is a strong trade option this offseason.

I just wrote a week ago that the Phillies should be done trading major pieces of their team. With that being said, they have a very movable asset in Cesar Hernandez and trading him would actually make sense for the team.

Philadelphia has a veritable logjam in their infield. Rhys Hoskins has clearly established himself as the best option at first base, but beyond that the picture is quite cloudy.

Hernandez has been the everyday starter at second since Chase Utley was traded two years ago, with Freddy Galvis right next to him at shortstop. Maikel Franco came into the majors as the team’s next top third baseman, but has struggled in an everyday role the last two years.

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Enter J.P. Crawford, who has made playing time hard to come by since being promoted. He has sapped playing time from all three of Hernandez, Galvis, and Franco. The situation only gets further complicated by the fact that Scott Kingery could be in the majors as early as May next season.

Moving any of these players to the outfield is not an option as the team has three starting-caliber outfielders already in place.

The easiest way to clear up this messy situation is to trade someone this offseason, and the most movable player among this group is easily Hernandez.

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Among leadoff hitters with 500 or more plate appearances the last two seasons, Hernandez has the third-best on-base percentage (.378) and sixth-highest walk rate and batting average (11 percent and .292).

Compared to other second basemen the last two years, Hernandez ranks eighth in fWAR (6.9), fifth in OBP (.366), and second in walk rate (9.9 percent). His ultimate zone rating (UZR) and Fangraphs defensive value are both second-highest.

As a whole the last two years, Hernandez has a .292/.366/.404 line.

He has collected 14 home runs, 69 extra-base hits, 142 runs scored, 70 runs batted in, and 31 stolen bases. Prior to 2016, Hernandez was a below-replacement player in his career. The last two years he has combined for 5.6 wins above replacement according to Baseball Reference.

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A team like the Blue Jays could benefit from a player like Hernandez as they have received little production from both the leadoff spot this season (75 wRC+) and second base (league-worst -1.3 fWAR). They have starting pitchers that could interest the Phillies in a trade like J.A. Happ and Marcus Stroman, likely favoring the young, controllable Stroman.

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If Hernandez does get traded this offseason, this would allow an Opening Day infield of Hoskins, Crawford, Galvis, and Franco. If Galvis or Franco stumble out of the gate and Kingery torches Triple-A the way he did in Double-A this year, he could be added to the major-league roster early on in the season.

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