Can Phillies afford to trade Cesar Hernandez this offseason?
Cesar Hernandez might be expendable, but he’s also an important piece of the Phillies offense.
Few players draw as much ire among Phillies fans as second baseman Cesar Hernandez for his streaky and sometimes ineffective play. With the advancement of Scott Kingery’s game, many project Philadelphia to trade Hernandez this offseason to move Kingery back to his natural position.
While moving Kingery to second would clear room in the outfield or for top prospect Alec Bohm at third base, it would also mean the Phillies would lose one of their best producers on offense, no matter how inconsistent.
Since making his big league debut in 2013, Hernandez leads the Phillies with 781 hits, 151 more than the next guy, Odubel Herrera. Hernandez is also second in doubles (110), first in triples (27), third in RBI (240), first in runs (394), walks (317), and second in stolen bases (78) since joining the team.
Through his first 810 games, Herandez has more hits than Mike Schmidt did through as many games.
The overall numbers play well for Hernandez, who has done nothing but produce, albeit inconsistently. It would be a lot for a team to trade a player who has been among the top three in hits on the team over the last five years.
Is there a player who can replace that type of production from Hernandez? That would mean either another outfielder, possibly Adam Haseley or a free agent, or Alec Bohm playing third base.
We broke down the Phillies outfield situation with Corey Dickerson and whether there’s room for him next year with Andrew McCutchen coming back and Haseley proving himself in recent weeks. It would be tough to add an outfielder unless Haseley is traded or if the Phillies feel he’s not going to be an everyday player for a playoff team.
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It would be a lot to ask from Bohm as a rookie to contribute the type of numbers Hernandez has consistently produced. He certainly has the potential to match them at some point, but as a rookie for a team ready to win? Maybe not right away.
Philadelphia does have the talent on offense to stay afloat without Hernandez, and if they can acquire a pitcher for him this offseason it would certainly fill a big need. A number of teams have second basemen hitting the free agent market this offseason, including Minnesota, Arizona, and Miami.
The Diamondbacks would be a match in a deal for pitcher Robbie Ray, whom the Phillies have had interest in for a while.
Hernandez is certainly expendable, but it’s important to remember the impact he’s had on this offense. While he’s inconsistent game to game, he’s been a driving force atop the lineup since replacing Chase Utley at second base.