Can the Phillies find any value in Tommy Joseph entering Spring Training?
Once a highly touted prospect and the centerpiece of a mega-trade, Tommy Joseph has found himself on the outside looking into the Phillies 25-man roster. The former catcher battled back from concussions to replace Ryan Howard at first base, but his power hasn’t been enough to maintain an everyday job in Philly.
Rhys Hoskins replaced Joseph as the everyday starter last season and the organization added free agent Carlos Santana to stabilize a young lineup.
At the age of 26, Joseph still hasn’t reached his first year of arbitration. An extremely cheap option for any club, Joseph made just $543,000 last year and has two more seasons of team control before ever seeing an arbiters table. Joseph will not become a free agent until after the 2022 season when he’s 31-years-old.
Philadelphia is clearly looking less at raw power and more at on-base percentage in their hitters. Joseph had a measly .289 OBP in 2017, while his replacement Carlos Santana had a terrific .363 OBP for Cleveland.
With no signs of starting time for Joseph in Philadelphia, the organization has left him available on the trade block. Considering his athleticism limits him to first base Joseph is best suited for an American League team as a designated hitter.
Minnesota could be a team looking for a younger power bat that can fit in their small-market budget. Joe Mauer has been the face of Minnesota baseball for 14 years and, with three batting titles, is trending towards a place in Cooperstown. Turning 35 in April Mauer’s time as an everyday fielder is limited.
For the price of Vargas over an extended period of time the Twins can have Joseph’s power platooning with Mauer at first and designated hitter. It gives Minnesota a younger option behind Vargas, Mauer, and Grossman with as much power as the three combined.
Hitting the majority of his 43 career home runs to left field Joseph can take advantage of Target Field’s dimensions. Compared to Citizens Bank Park, Target Field’s left field power alley and straightaway center field are just three feet further back.
Minnesota also has few successors to Mauer in their farm system with just one first baseman rated in their top-30 prospects by MLB Pipeline. Lewin Diaz is rated as the 10th best first base prospect in baseball, but hasn’t played beyond Single-A.
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Joseph’s value on the trade market won’t be astronomical, but thankfully the Twins farm system has some quality pitchers. Blayne Enlow, their third-round pick from 2017, pitched exceptionally well in Rookie Ball with a 1.33 ERA in six games, only one being a start.
He’s had nearly as many strikeouts to innings pitched while walking only four batters. Just 18-years-old the potential is there for Enlow.
Half of the Twins top-30 prospects are pitchers, giving Philadelphia an opportunity to pick a quality arm. Joseph has little opportunity in Philadelphia, but playing in Target Field with regular playing time could allow him to be a 30/30 hitter.