DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 5: C.J. Cron #25 of the Colorado Rockies hits a solo home run in the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Coors Field on September 5, 2022 in Denver, Colorado.

Just as we were getting ready to be hyped for the Phillies season, we get reminded that we can’t have nice things. Rhys Hoskins has torn his ACL. It happened on a weird play on Thursday in Spring Training. Rhys was going back into Right Field to make a play. Then he must have planted his left leg in a weird way because crumpled to the ground in pain. He had to be carted off the field. MRI results later that night showed he tore his ACL.

The shame for Rhys is it comes in a contract year. The shame for the Phillies is that it costs them a very good player. He rightfully gets heat for his play in the field. But it will be hard to replace 30 HRs from the right side of the plate.

Kyle Scwarber tore his ACL in April of 2016. He returned to the Cubs to play in game 1 of the World Series that same season in late October. So perhaps Rhys could be back on the team by the NLCS or the World Series. But even in that best-case scenario, they have 162 regular season games, a potential Wild Card Series, and the Divisional Round series they will have to get through without Rhys Hoskins. They are going to need to find a full-time first baseman to replace him in that time.

The good news is there are options. They are not all the most inspiring of options, but they are options. Some come in-house, and some would come via trade or free agency. Who are those options? which ones make the most sense for the Phillies? Could they get anyone anywhere near as good as Rhys Hoskins? Or will they have to settle for a lesser replacement.

Let’s take a lot at all the avenues the Phillies could go down to replace Rhys Hoskins…

  • In House: Darick Hall

    The top in-house candidate, for now, will be Darick Hall. And if there is one thing we know about him, is he can ring the bell. Hall hit 9 HRs last season while up with the Phillies in 136 at-bats. A homerun every 15.1 at-bats. For reference, Rhys hit an HR every 19.6 at-bats.  

    Now before we go anointing him a better power hitter than Rhys, there is a lot of context needed. One, Rhys has done this across multiple seasons. More importantly, he did it to righties and lefties. Darick Hall had just 12 at-bats vs lefties and got 1 hit. Lefties were a big problem for him even in the minors last season. And improving vs lefties was his big project this offseason.  

    In Spring, we have seen some promising results. He is 5-17 with a home run against lefties in Spring. Not a sample size we can draw conclusions from. But an impressive start. He will likely get a chance to prove himself more against MLB Lefties to start the season. If he comes out and shows he can hang with them, then the easy answer is to roll with Hall. That is the best-case scenario. But in the case, he still struggles, they will need to keep their options open.  

  • In House: Alec Bohm

    For a long time, Phillies fans have advocated for moving Bohm over to first whenever Hoskins leaves. Well, Hoskins hasn’t left, but he won’t be playing first anytime soon. So should they go with that plan now? What I would say is that we have no clue if Bohm can play first effectively. And he won’t have much time to learn it with the season right around the corner now. Bohm could be the long-term answer. But just sliding him to first just creates a hole at 3rd base instead.  

    I like Edmundo Sosa as a Utility guy. But do you want to see him in the lineup every day at 3rd? We have seen enough Utility guys get forced into the daily lineup to know it doesn’t work. Thank you again Joe Girardi for that. Moving Bohm ever is not an option that makes things much better. Maybe on select days. But not as the final solution to who their first baseman will be this year.

  • In House: Kyle Schwarber

    I have also seen some fans suggesting Kyle Schwarber. But we have the same problem here that we had with Alec Bohm. 

    1. Schwarber has no experience playing first 
    2. This just creates a hole in the outfield instead of first base 

    Bryce Harper may not play the field at all this season. Were he healthy, you could maybe play him in right, Nick Castellanos in left, and experiment with Schwarber at first. But you don’t have a great option in the outfield behind Schwarber.  So what does moving him to first accomplish besides making problems elsewhere? 

  • In House: JT Realmuto

    See Bohm and Schwarber. Jt May fill in here and there against lefties to give him a break from catching. But he is not a realistic season-long option.  Garrett Stubbs is not good enough to play every day. They don’t have any other options at catcher. A move to first could be in JTs future one day. But not this year. 

  • Trade: CJ Cron

    The most popular name being thrown around as a trade target is CJ Cron of the Rockies. And it is a name that makes a ton of sense. For one, he is on an expiring deal. He will be a free agent next off-season, making him very easy to move. Plus, he is on a Rockies team that will likely be very bad this year. Giving them a good reason to want to move any expiring contracts. And his stats are very similar to Hoskins. Cron hit 29 homeruns to Hoskins 30. 

    The thing to always watch with Rockies players is the home/road splits. It is a real thing with that ballpark. And if you just look at his numbers from the past two seasons in Colorado out of context, the home/road splits look ugly. Here are his splits from last year 

    Home  0.302  0.354  0.601  0.955  22 HRs 
    Away  0.214  0.279  0.34  0.619  7 HRs 

     

    What those don’t tell you though, is he has played for other teams already and been fine though. Cron had probably the best season of his career with the Rays. Tropicana Field is many things, mostly bad. But a hitter’s stadium is not. You probably do not need to worry about if Cron can hit outside Coors, even if he struggled to do so the last couple of seasons. He also had a good season playing in Target Field. Citizens Bank Park will probably be very comfortable for him. 

    And in terms of fielding, he is at the least better than Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins committed 14 errors last year, Cron only 7. Rhys’s dWAR was near the bottom of the league at –14.7. CJ Cron was near the top of qualified 1st Basemen at –7.7. And in most defensive metrics it is a similar story. Cron won’t win any gold gloves, but he is a more dependable glove at 1st than Rhys. 

    If the Phillies are going to make a trade, Cron is likely the best of the realistic options. Unless some superstar is suddenly on the trade block. They may not be willing to trade him this early in the season though. So even if he is the final answer, they made need to ride it out with in-house options for a bit until the Rockies realize they are not winning anything this season. 

  • Trade: Christian Walker

    Christian Walker is a very good player. If he becomes available, he is probably the best option. Last year he hit .242/.327/.477/.804 with 36 homeruns. Plus, he won the gold glove. While his 2021 season was not very good, his 2020 and 2019 seasons saw similar production. Suggesting last season was not a fluke. Landing Walker would be a huge move. 

    The question is will he be available? Unlike Cron, he still has another year left after this until he hits free agency. He would likely cost more than CJ Cron. But apart from Andrew Painter, to land a player like Walker, most other prospects are probably worth giving up to get Walker. Bringing him in would make losing Hoskins a near wash. And if he performs like last season, his great glove may even make him an improvement over Rhys. Plus they would have one extra year of control.  

    Cron is still probably a more realistic option. But if the D Backs struggle, and in that NL West they very well may, Walker could become an option too.

  • Trade: Jesus Aguilar

    I never promised all the options would be pretty. Jesus is a .235 hitter and had 16 home runs in 464 at-bats last season. A Homerun every 29 at-bats. Pros? He’s a rightie. So I suppose if you are desperate he can platoon with Hall. Cons? He is a mediocre hitter and fielder. And despite being a rightie, struggled as badly as Hall did against Lefties. He is not a good option. His name will be thrown out because he is a free agent after this year and playing for an awful team. But there is a reason he had to sign a 1-year deal worth nothing with the Athletics. He is not a good player. I’d rather just stick with Hall full-time than mess around with a guy we know is not the answer.  

  • Trade: Eric Hosmer

    Yet another name that is very unexciting. You will start to see that pattern forming. Hosmer was once a top prospect. The Royals made him the 3rd overall pick in 2008. He has turned in a respectable MLB career. But there is something about a first baseman that can’t hit for power that bothers me. Hosmer had solid seasons in his career where he managed to hit 20+ home runs. But he hasn’t had a slugging percentage over .400 since 2020.  

    He is with the Cubs now. If he looks more like his 2020 self early on, and the Cubs are struggling, maybe he will be an ok option. But if he can’t muster a slugging percentage over .400, it is hard to call him a better option than anyone they already have in-house. It’s a name to keep an eye on. But not one anyone should be excited about.  

  • Trade: Garrett Cooper

    Another first baseman that lacks power. Yay? At least in Cooper’s case, he has eclipsed a slugging percentage of .400 in the past few years. Like the others, he is in the last year of his deal, and playing for a bad team. So he could be available. If it was between him, Aguilar, and Hosmer, he is probably the best option. But that does not make him a good option. Being a righty adds some value. But like Aguilar, he doesn’t exactly hit lefties well. In fact, he is below the Mendoza line against them. So it doesn’t actually help that much. Overall, they are probably better off with Hall.

  • Trade: Ji-man Choi

    Another very uninspiring option. Choi will be available. The question is should the Phillies want him? Well, he is a first baseman, whose Slugging percentage is under .400. Like with Cooper, Aguilar, and Hosmer, Phillies are better off passing. 

  • Trade: Shohei Ohtani

    Sure, he has never played first base. But he can do everything else well, why can’t he play first? And sure a trade for him would cost every single prospect in their system, and still not be enough. I get all that. But let me have my pipe dream.  

  • Free Agent- Miguel Sano

    There is only a single free agent worth mentioning. Miguel Sano. Just two years ago he hit 30 HRs. The issue is he missed nearly all of last season with knee problems. He tore his meniscus and after the season the Twins declined his option. It could be worth bringing him in just to see what he has though. He could be a temporary righty platoon with Hall until either Hall proves himself or they bring in a permanent option.  

    Just to put in perspective how bad the rest of the free agent first basemen are, Greg Bird is the next best option. He hasn’t played baseball since 2019. Free Agency outside maybe Sano is not a viable road to replacing Rhys. They are going to have to rely on a trade, or hope Hall can step up.

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