The Phillies will be looking to improve at third base this season after Maikel Franco and Brad Miller, among others, struggled last season. Prospect Alec Bohm is waiting, but the Phillies may not want to call him up and make him the starter right away. Several third basemen – such as Anthony Rendon, Mike Moustakas, and Josh Donaldson – are available in free agency. There are many players that could be the answer at third base, but here are eight guys who could be the Phillies options at third base.
Within the Organization:
Franco has shown the potential of being an All Star at times, but has never been able to put it together for a whole season. Franco got off to a hot start last season, with seven home runs, a .844 OPS, and a w/RC+ of 100 in April. Nothing special, but impressive for the Phillies eight-hole hitter. Franco’s play completely fell off in May as his w/RC+ dropped to 15, and his OPS was a horrendous .476 that month. He ultimately lost his starting job to several veteran backups such as Sean Rodriguez and Brad Miller. Franco was demoted to Triple-A in August.
The Phillies can save nearly $7 million by non-tendering Franco, and that should be what the front office chooses to do. Franco is too inconsistent and inadequate defensively for the Phillies to continue waiting for his breakout season. Let him hit free agency and move on.
Kingery came into the 2018 season with high expectations, and he was a massive disappointment for the Phillies. Last season, however, Kingery showed the organization why they gave him a 6 year contract worth $24 million before he played for the big club. Playing around the diamond, Kingery hit 19 home runs, stole 15 bases, and recorded a .788 OPS.
Kingery will be in the Phillies starting lineup next season no matter what; the bigger question is where. His natural position, second base, is currently being occupied by Cesar Hernandez. When Franco struggled, Kingery played games at third base, and also some center field with Odubel Herrera suspended. Personally, I prefer the Phillies trade Cesar Hernandez for a starting pitcher, possibly Jeff Samardzija, and put Kingery at second base. However, if GM Matt Klentak retains Hernandez and fails to sign a third baseman, then Kingery is a reliable option.
The Phillies’ first-round pick in 2018, at the age of 23, Alec Bohm is one of the Phillies’ top prospects for this season. The question is whether or not he’s MLB ready. Making it up to Double-A last season, Bohm cranked 14 homers and recorded a .844 OPS across 63 games for the Reading Fightin’ Phils. His biggest issue is that he often chases pitches out of the zone and doesn’t walk enough.
Bohm will likely be the Phillies’ third baseman of the future, but he’s still young, and it’s risky to play him right away, especially given the Phillies’ playoff hopes. Signing a Donaldson or Moustakas-level player to a one year deal and letting Bohm play another season in the minors would likely be a smarter option.
The Trade Market
Evan Longoria (SFG)
Hiring Gabe Kapler to be their manager means the Giants likely won’t be good for a while. Among other players, Madison Bumgarner is likely not re-signing, and the Giants could be sellers this offseason. While well past his prime, Longoria is still a solid player and would be a solid veteran presence for a team with limited playoff experience.
Besides being 34 and struggling with injuries over the past few seasons, Longoria is a costly option. He will be making $15 million next year, $18.5 million in 2021, $19.5 million in 2022, and $13 million in 2023 before hitting the free agency market. Trading for him also poses the issue of having to give up a good prospect. The Giants would likely want Alec Bohm, and his ceiling should be too high for the Phillies to ship him off, although Philadelphia did trade their top prospect last year in Sixto Sanchez to acquire J.T. Realmuto. That trade turned out well.
Kyle Seager (SEA)
There were rumors of Philly trying to acquire Seager at the trade deadline last season, but no deal ever occurred. Seager also hit the IL for the first time in his career last season, and only played 106 games for the Mariners. Despite this, he still clubbed 23 home runs and slugged .468 last year.
Seager is a high strikeout, runs, and walks player. He would have fit in nicely with Gabe Kapler. Usually, that’s a bad thing, but in Seager’s case, it may be what the Phillies need. Seager is very similar to Franco, despite being a lefty, but is a much more consistent player. The Mariners have been threatening rebuild for years, and it likely wouldn’t take a top prospect to get Seager. He will make $19 million in 2020, $18 million in 2021, and $15 million in 2022 before hitting free agency. That’s a tad expensive for my liking.
The Free Agency Market:
Winning the Lottery: Anthony Rendon
Could it be back-to-back seasons that the Phillies steal a top player from the Nationals? It’s unlikely, but certainly far from impossible. Rendon is a top-three third baseman in the MLB alongside Nolan Arenado and Alex Bregman. Rendon had the best season of his career last year, recording a nutty 1.010 OPS and w/RC+ of 154. He was one of the best players on a World Series-winning team and would be a massive upgrade at 3B for Philly.
The biggest issue with Rendon is cost. An offseason after signing Bryce Harper to a $330 million, 13 year ontract, it would likely take similar numbers to acquire Rendon. A long-term deal could also put a wrench in the way of Alec Bohm, although that could enable the front office to trade him for a pitcher. Rendon may not even want to come to Philly, and the front office has to be careful with how much they spend, but signing Rendon would be an enormous pickup for the team.
Only four seasons removed from being an MVP, Donaldson revived his career last season and played a huge role for the Atlanta Braves. Donaldson slugged .521 with an impressive w/RC+ of 132. Not too shabby for a 33-year-old.
Ideally, if the Phillies make a play for him, they would only be giving Donaldson a one-year deal. Atlanta gave him a one year deal worth $23 million last season. Donaldson would likely be signing for about the same price. Donaldson is very serviceable, and could let Scott Kingery play his natural position. Alec Bohm would also get another season of playing in Triple-A.
The Milwaukee Brewers declined Moustakas’ team option, making him a free agent. There have been rumors that the Phillies will be interested in him if they fail to sign someone else. While Moustakas is no all-star, he is very serviceable as a third baseman. Last season, he clubbed 35 home runs and slugged .516.
However, Moustakas is now on the wrong side of 30 and would likely be looking for a long-term deal. Yasmani Grandal just got 4 years and $74 million from the Brewers, and Moustakas would probably be somewhere in that range. If he would be willing to sign a deal along the lines of one year and $20 million or 2 years and $38 million, then, by all means, the Phillies should go for it, but I’d be hesitant to give him a long-term deal.
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