Phillies: Who’s going to play third base in 2020?
The Phillies have a hole to fill at third base that’s been open for too long.
At the closing of the 2019 season, third base remained a mystery in terms of who’s going to hold down the fort at the hot corner next season for the Phillies. Could it be the once-heralded Maikel Franco, who is still only going to be 27 years old at the start of 2020? Could it be stud prospect and former first-round pick Alec Bohm? Or is it going to be an outsider that takes the spotlight, such as Josh Donaldson? It’s a case that remains open, and a case that the Phillies front office needs to prioritize.
Maikel Franco is the incumbent to the position. Currently heading into his seventh MLB season, Franco boasts a career .249 batting average, hitting 25 homers and knocking in 85 RBIs. Last season, however, Franco hovered around the Mendoza line for most of the season and was sent down to Triple-A to get his swing back. His documented lack of fitness and inability to adjust aren’t helping his cause either.
At 27 years old, Franco has the time to recover and become a productive corner infielder once again, but it’ll be hard to see that future panning out in a Phillies uniform given the presence of Alec Bohm, the Phillies top prospect that is currently waiting in the wings down in Double-A.
Bohm, the Phillies first-round draft pick in 2018, has been on an Aaron Nola-like track in terms of his development. A stud third baseman at Wichita State University, Bohm asserted himself as an offensive threat, compiling 14 homers and 42 RBIs in only 63 games in Double-A Reading.
Bohm profiles as a Kris Bryant type of third basemen, one that plays a solid third base but whose real strengths lay in the batter’s box. He’s projected out to be a guy with excellent pure hitting ability, meaning he’ll hit for power and average while limiting his strikeouts, a facet of the game Franco has yet to figure out.
The other option in this situation is to explore the free agent market. In this case the Phils would be best suited targeting a veteran on a short-term contract, and a candidate that is okay with keeping the seat warm for Bohm. This year’s class is nothing to sniff at, and the Phillies might just be able to find the perfect fit from a division rival.
Josh Donaldson excelled with the Braves last season, and he might solve the Phillies third base issue this season. Donaldson rapped out 37 homers and knocked in 94 RBIs last season, and bested Franco’s average by hitting .259. He plays a good third base, and the Phillies could potentially secure the 34-year-old to a short-term deal. They’ll have to pay a pretty penny though, and with other contract situations looming the Phillies may be pressed to find a cheaper option.
In any case, the Phillies need to solve this issue semi-soon, if for no other reason than for organizational clarity. If they want to put together a true contender for the World Series next season, the decision of whom to place at the hot corner is going to be a key factor.