December 02, 2019
If a trade is going to happen, it's going to happen soon.
That's because the Phillies have until 8 p.m. Monday night to make a decision on what they want to do with infielders Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco. The duo have been lifelong Phillies and the squad must offer each a contract — as each is arbitration eligible — by the deadline and if not, they'll become free agents.
The Phillies likely don't have much leverage to move the two players, as they are the two most likely casualties for the team to make upgrades. Other teams know this.
Hernandez has been a solid second baseman but unremarkable. Franco has been serviceable as well with flashes of power and his glove at third, but with Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura and Scott Kingery each looking to have everyday roles on offense, one of the two was inevitably going to be sent packing. And if they want to add a big free agent piece, like Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson or even Mike Moustakas, they need to jettison both.
Here's a brief look at the numbers for each:
The Phillies need to upgrade the lineup somewhere. In the outfield, they are pretty much set with Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen and likely Adam Haseley to start the year. They are also obviously set at catcher. Opening a roster spot can either get a new young player into the mix (like Alec Bohm), or open a place for a free agent. Having the versatile Kingery, who can play pretty much any of the eight positions, gives the front office flexibility.
Surrendering both Franco and Hernandez also opens up some much-needed cash. Here's a bit more on the impending decision from NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury:
Hernandez is projected to make more than $11 million in his final year of arbitration and the Phillies, with both Scott Kingery and Jean Segura capable of playing second, could let him go and use that money to fill needs elsewhere on the roster. It’s still possible that the Phils could trade Hernandez in the final hours before the tender deadline, though that might not be likely as interested teams could gamble that he’d soon become available as a free agent.
Franco, 27, originally signed with the Phillies in 2010. He became the team’s regular third baseman in 2015 and had three 20-plus-homer seasons before losing his starting job last season and being demoted to Triple A. Phillies officials pondered releasing Franco in September and it has been clear for a while that he needs a fresh start in another organization. That could come in a late trade or a non-tender on Monday. Franco is projected to make about $6.5 million in salary arbitration. [NBC SP]
That $17.5 million could really come in handy, as the Phils are reportedly interested in some starting pitching upgrades like Cole Hamels, Zack Wheeler and Madison Bumgarner.
It's also worth mentioning that seven other arbitration eligible players are expected to be retained by the Phillies: Jose Alvarez, Hector Neris, Adam Morgan, Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin, J.T. Realmuto and Andrew Knapp.
There is another side to the deadline to tender contracts, and that is potential new free agents. There are not a ton of players on the cusp of the chopping block who make sense for the Phillies, but there are some:
Shane Greene, Braves, reliever
The Phillies very nearly traded for Greene this past summer, and he is likely to command a raise that could be too rich for Atlanta, a team flush with bullpen talent. The team will surely try to trade him, but his being cut is also possible. Acquiring a player like Greene would be a windfall for the Phillies: he was an All-Star last season and had a 2.30 ERA through 62.2 innings.
Yimi Garcia, Dodgers, reliever
Garcia is 29 and has pitched respectably recently, but was left off L.A.'s postseason roster despite his 3.61 ERA last year. If he is let go, the Phillies might be interested in the young veteran arm.
Jose Peraza, Reds, UTIL
Peraza would be a good fit for the Brad Miller utility man, pinch hitter role. He is just 25 but may find himself out of a job if Cincinnati wants to save the $3 million plus he'll earn in arbitration. It's his first arbitration year so he will be under a team's control for a while.
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