Phillies should look to move Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco at deadline

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 22: Maikel Franco #7 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates his sixth-inning, two-run home run against the New York Yankees with teammate Cesar Hernandez #16 at Yankee Stadium on June 22, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 22: Maikel Franco #7 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates his sixth-inning, two-run home run against the New York Yankees with teammate Cesar Hernandez #16 at Yankee Stadium on June 22, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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The Phillies are on the brink of contention. They have many needs and a few players who won’t be around next year. They should trade them while they can.

We’re officially halfway through July, and as the heat hits 100, the trade rumors get dialed to 11. The trade deadline is now two weeks away, and at some point or other it feels like the Phillies have been linked to just about every available arm, which makes sense considering they could use every single one.

But what if instead of the going all in and betting the farm on a wild card berth, the Phillies decided to sell some pieces instead?

Yes, I know the Phillies are currently tied for a wild card spot, but I’m not convinced they’ll get it. There are four teams within two games of them, and it feels like every time the Phillies have had a “test series” these past two months (think their last two against both Atlanta and Washington), they’ve fallen flat.

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Plus, they might have too many holes to fill in one deadline. They have some pieces whose days on the team are limited, and who could help some other contending team and get the club something in return. I’m talking of course and Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco.

Hernandez’s days with the team were numbered the minute Scott Kingery signed that extremely bold contract (a contract that’s looking better by the day I might add).

Kingery’s performance this year just about sealed Hernandez’s fate.

Kingery will most likely be the starter at second next year, and Hernandez will be limited to Kingery’s current role as a super-utility man (someone should trademark that word, by the way, it would be a cool name for a knock-off superhero). While Hernandez is short on power, and a defensive liability, a lot of teams could use a switch hitter who consistently hits .280-.290. He’s even kind enough to start on a rebuilding team.

Franco should probably be traded sooner but might end up sticking around longer than Hernandez. Franco and Hernandez are opposites; Franco fields his position better than Hernandez, has a ton of power, but can’t hit for average. Franco would make a great bench bat for a contending team. He’d be harder to sell in the offseason (although an AL team might take a flyer on him as a designated hitter).

The problem with trying to sell Franco now though is that unlike Hernandez, his heir-apparent isn’t ready, so he might need a regent to take the throne for a while. Alec Bohm is the Phillies’ top prospect and is almost universally viewed as the third baseman of the future. He’s risen swiftly through the minors, and will most likely make his debut sometime next year.

Now comes the tricky part trying to find a trade partner. One team that might make sense for Hernandez would be Oakland. They’re currently tied with Tampa for the last AL Wild Card and are getting next to nothing out of their second basemen Jurickson Profar, who is presently slashing 217/.280/.408, though he has put up 14 homers and 47 RBI. The two are comparable defensively, but having a switch hitter with a .280 average would undoubtedly be an upgrade.

The problem is, Oakland does that whole “Moneyball” thing, where they would rather suffer through decades of mediocrity with homegrown talents than go out, make big moves and overspend on stars. As for who the Phillies could get in return, Hogan Harris could be an interesting fit. He’s only the A’s 26th ranked prospect, but he’s a left-handed pitcher with a 2.70 ERA in the New York Penn League. Perhaps he could even be combined with another low-end prospect.

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As for Franco, his most likely fit would be as a bench bat on a contending team. He’s the kind of bat every contender could use on their bench, but wouldn’t want to overpay for. Perhaps though, he could be packaged with a top prospect and sent off to another seller in exchange for a starting pitcher. Texas might fit the bill here. They’re most likely looking to sell, and haven’t gotten too much production out of Asdrubal Cabrera (.223/.311/.380, 11 HR, 45 RBI) at third.

Franco’s numbers aren’t too much better, but he’s seven years younger than Cabrera and has more upside at this point in his career.

Also, their top-ranked prospect at third is Sherten Apostel, and he’s only 23rd on the organization’s top-30 list. The Phillies have been linked to Mike Minor, a package of Franco and a top prospect may very well be enough to get a trade done.

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I don’t think these deals are likely. The Phillies do seem to be interested in moving Franco at least, and Texas is looking to move Minor, but I don’t know if those two would be traded for each other. The Hernandez deal is a little more far-fetched, but it could work for both parties. It’ll be interesting to see what the Phils decide to do at the deadline.