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March 24, 2023

Eytan Shander: Rhys Hoskins' ACL tear is crushing for the Phillies and fans

Rhys Hoskins' ACL tear is crushing for his Phillies future and for the fans who've followed his whole career, writes Eytan Shander.

This really sucks. Did we just see Rhys Hoskins for the final time in a Phillies uniform?

The Phillies took a major hit as Rhys Hoskins crumbled to the field in pain. The collective gasp from the entire fan base is one that we never want to experience, but all knew how it would unfortunately end. Hoskins is done for the year but more importantly  his ACL needs a total reconstruction.

Medical advancements in rehabilitation for athletes has significantly improved even in the short time since Hoskins entered the league. But it’s still total reconstructive surgery for an important ligament. This is in his final year as he was to become a free agent  with a heavy assumption that he will be back. But is that truly the case?

The team is already scrambling with an expected increase of plate appearances for Darick Hall, along with a platoon likely involving Alec Bohm. But with the nature of Hoskins injury and how much the team has relied on Hoskins to perform at such a high level, it’s worth asking what's next. This might go down as one of the worst situations ever. It’s nobody’s fault, but the sport moves on, as does the team, with or without their slugging first baseman.

The most likely scenario plays out where the team leverages the injury to a cheaper contract with Hoskins but that is pending what happens on the field  and at the plate. What helps Hoskins the most right now is the absence of Bryce Harper, as the holes in the lineup are even greater now down two big bats. That’s not going to last and the Phillies will soon find out if they truly can get a next man  or men  up to fill the Hoskins void.

If they don’t, then great news for Hoskins. His value bumped up  a little  and some leverage might swing back his way. Maybe. The Phillies could easily say they need a sure thing to replace that lost productivity, and choose to spend that money on a healthy player. Again, this sucks, but it’s something to keep an eye on during the season. Which opens the door for what happens if these guys do fill the void. Hoskins will be faced with a tough decision, one that the team could easily make for him based on pricing of a deal. This all comes in a league with a luxury tax not salary cap, so they truly could pay tax while going over, justifying a deal for Hoskins.

It's just hard to trust the Phillies will hand out a bonus check for Hoskins just for completing his rehab, despite the entire fan base rooting for him to get healthy as fast as possible. It just doesn't work like that in real life with these owners looking to cut costs while simultaneously spending even in a non-capped league. Maybe it’s the ghost of the Ryan Howard injury and subsequent fallout after the fact, but this is now haunting me with Hoskins.

Two days ago, we were celebrating the idea of a player like Hoskins re-signing with the Phillies and riding out his career here. At least the meat of it. He’s our guy, like, truly. Not that Trae Turner or Harper or anyone else who came via trade or free agency is de-valued, but there’s something just unique about seeing a guy grow up with a team. 

That’s what stings the most after the initial reaction and fallout of the injury itself. You see the video, gasp, immediately hope for the best with Hoskins. Then what? What’s the next part of the conversation? What does the team do? Who do they trade for? Okay. Then what? You will hit this part of the issue at some point, I just made it easier for you to brace a likely scenario. Hoskins was on a tear. The ACL injury does not mean this is over or he’s never going to be the same, but there’s just a possibility now. It’s unfair but such is life in professional sports. 

Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow

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