Phillies infielder Cesar Hernandez could be headed to Los Angeles, but just not to the team everyone predicted
Throughout the offseason experts connected Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez to the Los Angeles Angels. After trading for veteran Ian Kinsler the Angels are out of the running for Hernandez, whose trade price is reportedly high.
General manager Matt Klentak will likely move Herandez and his double-play partner Freddy Galvis to pave the way for prospects. With the Angels off the market and a plethora of other second basemen available the Phillies could have a hard time finding a new home for their 27-year-old infielder.
While the Angels may be out on Hernandez, the club 30 miles north might express interest.
There are many reasons why the Dodgers could want Hernandez as they look to repeat as National League champs. The first is perhaps the most important: need. Los Angeles doesn’t have a clear future at second base after platooning Chase Utley and Logan Forsythe last year. Utley is now a free agent and Forsythe hit .224 with six home runs last year. Hernandez has three years of club control before he hits free agency going into the 2021 season.
The Dodgers also wish to dump some of their payroll down past the luxury tax, a key reason they held off on trading for Giancarlo Stanton. Hernandez made $2.5 million last year and will likely make no more than $6 million next year after arbitration. Not only does Hernandez provide a cheap, effective option for the Dodgers, but the Phillies can afford to take on a bad contract for this year if it helps facilitate a trade.
Los Angeles has several contracts they may want to hand off this year, and many of the players are intriguing for Philadelphia. Yasiel Puig enters the final year of his deal with a $9.3 million salary, and he could open a hole in the outfield for Joc Pederson or Cody Bellinger once Adrian Gonzalez returns to play first.
A move that could be even more effective for the Dodgers books and the Phillies on the field is moving a starting pitcher. Scott Kazmir has a $17.6 million price tag this year and will be a free agent next year. At 33-years-old had somewhat of a bounce-back season with a 10-6 record and a 4.56 ERA in 26 starts.
Kazmir has a history with the Phillies, but it’s likely one he wishes to forget.
Another expensive contract would be Rich Hill, but the Dodgers likely won’t move him after a fantastic season at the age of 37. Hill had the best season of his 13-year career with a career-high in wins and the first time he’s started 25 games since 2007 with the Cubs.
Los Angeles has plenty of starters with Clayton Kershaw, Hill, Kazmir, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alex Wood, and prospect Julio Urias.
Naturally, the Dodgers would have to send prospects back for Herandez’s services. They have one of the best right-handed pitching prospects in baseball with Walker Buehler, MLB Pipeline’s 11th-best prospect. Los Angeles refused to move the 23-year-old last year in the Yu Darvish trade and had him appear in the majors for eight games.
If Buehler is truly untouchable for the Dodgers the options aren’t limited for Klentak to pick through. Their farm system has five of the top-100 prospects, which includes their third-overall prospect, Yadier Alvarez. Mid-tier pitchers such as Trevor Oaks or Caleb Ferguson could also fit into the Phillies plans.
Luckily, the Phillies have someone in their organization who knows the Dodgers farm system better than anyone in the world. Before being named the Phillies manager, Gabe Kapler was the Dodgers Director of Player Development. If anyone can pick out the best talent and the diamonds in the rough out in Los Angeles, it’s Kapler.
Between the need, finances, and prospects in these two organizations a trade involving Hernandez makes too much sense for both sides. Los Angeles can secure the middle of their infield and relieve themselves of salary while the Phillies add pitching, prospects, and a job for Scott Kingery.