Phillies Part Ways with Infielders Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez

Two of the Phillies’ longest-tenured players, Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez, have been non-tendered, thus making them free-agents.

After much speculation, the Philadelphia Phillies’ two longest tenured players will officially not return for another season under new manager Joe Girardi.

Monday evening, the club declined to tender contracts to third baseman Maikel Franco and second baseman Cesar Hernandez. Both had been members of the Phillies’ Opening Day starting lineups in each of the past four seasons; combined, they played 1,488 games in red pinstripes.

Franco and Hernandez were the only two non-tendered players on the team, among the nine possible candidates. Catcher Andrew Knapp avoided arbitration all-together earlier on Monday, signing a one-year contract. The other six players tenured contracts include: southpaws Jose Alvarez and Adam Morgan; right-handers Zach Eflin, Hector Neris and Vince Velasquez; and catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Before non-tendering the two infielders, whom had been employed by the organization through international signings since they were teenagers, the Phillies attempted to trade them, but ultimately failed to come away with a deal.

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Franco’s $6.7 million project arbitration salary, as well as Hernandez’s $11.8 million (according to MLBTradeRumors.com), simply were too high for the Phillies, as they look to retool their roster this offseason.

ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan tweets, “Franco being non-tendered was the worst-kept secret in baseball. Hernández should have a good market, but his arbitration number was going to be eight figures, too rich for this 2B market.”

The Phillies’ infield is very much in flux; although they recently signed Josh Harrison to a minor-league pact with an invitation to spring training, there still is no clear answer who will be everyday infielders other than Jean Segura or Rhys Hoskins.

While it had been speculated that Mike Moustakas could be the successor to Franco at the hot corner, he instead signed a four-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds on Monday to play second base.

The offseason has just begun.

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