The Phillies have reportedly placed two veteran infielders from their 2019 Opening Day starting lineup on the trade block.
The Major League Baseball offseason is well underway. Moves are already being made, whether it is Joe Girardi being named Phillies manager, Gabe Kapler being named Giants manager, and even the team claiming a right-handed pitcher after parting ways with veteran Pat Neshek.
Soon, more difficult roster decisions will have to be made, especially by December 2, the deadline to either non-tender or tender eligible players. For the Phillies, two of those players include longtime third and second basemen Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez.
And, according to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, the Phillies are trying to trade both before December 2. If the Phillies are unsuccessful to finding trade partners for either, Stark adds that Franco is “more likely” to be non-tendered, while Hernandez is “less likely.”
Franco, 27, has played six seasons with the Phillies, slashing .249/.302/.431 with 110 doubles, 102 home runs, 343 RBI, 173 walks and 389 strikeouts spanning 656 games and 2,539 plate appearances. This past season, Franco was intentionally walked the second-most times among National League batters (19); among fielders in the NL, he recorded the most putouts among third baseman in 2017, 103.
Hernandez, 29, is the Phillies’ longest tenured player, having played in parts of seven seasons with the team dating back to the 2013 season. Charlie Manuel‘s last as manager until Ryne Sandberg filled in for the final 42 games. Hernandez has a career .277/.352/.381 slash with 113 doubles, 27 triples, 46 home runs, 253 RBI, 80 stolen bases, 325 walks and 620 strikeouts spanning 832 games and 3,282 plate appearances. In 2016, Hernandez led the National League in triples (11), defensive games as a second baseman (149), and double plays turned as a second baseman (102).
Stark writes that among the club’s many offseason goals this offseason, in addition to adding “at least” two starting pitchers while “staying in the mix” on Gerrit Cole, is to add a third baseman, second baseman and/or a center fielder. Hence, placing Franco and Hernandez on the trade block marks sense if they are exploring other options at their positions.
The Phillies have already been linked to slugging third baseman Josh Donaldson this offseason, who, if signed, could be a stop-gap option until rising prospect Alec Bohm is ready to play at the big-league level.
And, of the three positions, third base, second base, and center fielder, Scott Kingery is expected to “bounce” to the stop the club does not fill.
In short, the Phillies offseason seems fluid, and there are plenty of paths the front office can take to try to build a contending team for the 2020, their first with World Series-winning manager Joe Girardi at the helm.
With the GM Winter Meetings taking place this week, those conversations are surely taking place as we speak.