Phillies likely done with first baseman Tommy Joseph in 2018

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 22: Tommy Joseph #19 of the Philadelphia Phillies rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the ninth inning during a game against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on August 22, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Marlins won 12-8. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 22: Tommy Joseph #19 of the Philadelphia Phillies rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the ninth inning during a game against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on August 22, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Marlins won 12-8. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /
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With Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins both on the roster for 2018, Tommy Joseph’s time with the Phillies has likely come to an end.

In 2017, one of the most exciting young first basemen in baseball emerged in the majors in Rhys Hoskins. He smashed records for being the quickest player to reach a certain home run total night after night, hitting 18 in his first 34 games and finished the year with a 1.014 OPS in 50 games with the Phillies.

On top of that, the team went out and signed Carlos Santana, a key cog from the Indians’ back-to-back AL Central titles the last two years. Between the last two years, Santana has 57 home runs, 166 runs batted in, and a .259/.365/.477 line. He should be one of the team’s most consistent hitters this year.

However, the presence of these two players puts the role of last year’s Opening Day first baseman, Tommy Joseph, in serious doubt. Will there even be a spot on the roster for Joseph this year?

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After 2016, Joseph actually looked like he had some potential. He moved to first base after sustaining multiple concussions catching and things finally started to click at the plate. In 107 major-league games, he hit 21 home runs, drove in 47 runs, and had a .813 OPS (113 OPS+). By the end of the year he had unseated Ryan Howard as the starting first baseman.

Now, there doesn’t seem to be nearly the same hope for Joseph.

While he hit one more home run and drove in 22 more runs (in 35 more games), his other numbers got much worse. He had a .240/.289/.432 line with a 24.2 percent strikeout rate. He went from 0.5 WAR in 2016 to -1.3 WAR in 2017. Joseph’s WAR total was the lowest among all qualified first baseman in the majors.

With both Hoskins and Santana on the team, Joseph doesn’t have a chance to be a starter this year. With eight relievers expected to be on the roster, there will be one less bench spot available.

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New manager Gabe Kapler and general manager Matt Klentak expressed interest in players who can man lots of positions, and Joseph can’t do that. His catching days are over and the last thing this team needs is another outfielder. Ultimately, Joseph is limited just to first base, and that’s what could keep him from finding a bench spot.

Without a chance to be a starter and little hope of finding a spot on the bench, Joseph likely won’t have a spot on the major-league roster. It wouldn’t be surprising if he gets designated for assignment to clear the way for someone else, whether it be a free-agent signing or a non-roster invitee after spring training.

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There could be a small trade market for Joseph if a team needs a right-handed first baseman to platoon, but those come a dime a dozen. He could get released or head back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

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