Phillies should consider bringing back Cesar Hernandez
By Hunter Doyle
The Phillies should keep a familiar face in mind in free agency.
Heading into the 2021 season, the Philadelphia Phillies still have plenty of question marks. All eyes are on the J.T. Realmuto situation and the need for relief pitchers. Not everyone is sold on the middle infield, though. Didi Gregorius is a free-agent and your guess is as good as ours as to where he could end up. That leaves Scott Kingery and Jean Segura as the starters.
Kingery had a disappointing 2020 season. While it was only 60 games, his situation overall is becoming concerning. The Phillies are still locked into his contract for three more seasons. After a quiet rookie season, Kingery was slashing .313/.363/.585 at the end of June 2019. He finished the 2019 season at .258/.315/.474. This past year, he only played in 36 games and hit .159/.228/.283 with just three home runs, six RBI, and 12 runs scored. While he has shown flashes, there is nothing that suggests he is a long-term answer.
It’d be unfair to judge Segura off of a 60-game season, but he was on pace to have a respectable 162-game season. Although he only hit .266, he rebounded from a slow start and finished strong. Outside of his average, Segura was on pace to have better numbers than he usually does.
Segura’s 2019 season was also pretty consistent with his career numbers. The .280 average was a bit low but other than that it was a solid season. The biggest worry that year was his lack of hustle at times and his weight gain. It seems like he got both of those issues under control this past year. The Phillies still need more out of him this season after what they gave up to bring him in.
Is Cesar Hernandez a potential option for the Phillies?
If Alec Bohm gets hurt, the Phillies could slide Segura to third base. Kingery’s future is uncertain. It might make sense to bring back Cesar Hernandez. Competition is healthy and the best players will rise to the top. Kingery needs to prove he can be the starter for a full season. Cesar could probably start on another team, but he’s not a superstar. He could certainly take an offer as a depth piece if he doesn’t get any deals before the season.
Cesar has a strong relationship with the Phillies. He was signed at the age of 16 back in 2006. In his first few years with the team, he was just a depth piece. His numbers won’t jump out at you, but he’s a consistent player. The 2018 season was a bit of a down year, but he’s been pretty reliable outside of that since 2016. Every team knows what they are getting with him. He’s been able to stay healthy the past few seasons.
Cesar is coming off of a solid season in Cleveland in which he won a Gold Glove and contributed some big hits in the postseason. If he is available at a reasonable price for a year or two, it’s something that the Phillies should at least consider. If Kingery isn’t the answer, Cesar can provide some stability in the middle infield until Bryson Stott is promoted. Whenever he is promoted, Segura will probably move over to second base.
Moving on from Cesar was the right move last offseason. The Phillies needed to make room for Bohm and Gregorius. Next season might be the right time to bring him back, though. The Phillies have more questions than answers at the middle infield. Even if they get those questions answered, Hernandez could still provide much-needed depth.