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Compensating Rhys Hoskins

A team nearly desperate for cornerstone pieces should start thinking about taking Hoskins up on his offer to stick around a while

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

In a pre-Scott Kingery world, it might be too early to think about what a Rhys Hoskins extension would look like. Now, as the 2018 starts to wrap up, it’s worth the time to think about how the Phillies should handle Hoskins long-term.

When news broke this week about Hoskins’s migration from Legacy Agency to the portfolio of Super Agent Supreme Scott Boras, it became fair and topical to wonder what that might mean for Rhys’s prospects of staying in Philly beyond the 2023 season, after which he’s currently set to be a free agent.

That seems like forever away, in a Tomorrowland filled with world peace and cures for hunger and disease, but if it’s already been seven years since the Phillies hit the playoffs, I can tell you from experience that that amount of time goes by quicker than you think. And anyway, Hoskins himself stoked the coals!

“To be as blunt about it as I can, if I have the opportunity to stay in this city and be a part of this organization for my lifetime, I’d want that. I love this city. I love this organization. I love the staff that’s here. I love the teammates that I have. Obviously, things about that change. But I’ve really taken to this city. This city is a special place to me. If I ever have the opportunity to be here for my career or long term, I would 100 percent want that.”

So, neat. That’s nice to hear. Until the two sides put pen to paper, though, Hoskins will play 2019 and 2020 as a pre-arbitration player making somewhere in the neighborhood of $600,000, with the following seasons affording him the chance to earn hefty raises through arb-eligible winters.

Say the team and Hoskins choose the shortcut through that process and lock up a long-term payment plan. What might that deal look like? Would Hoskins be willing to sign away a year (or more) of free agency? Should the team make that commitment this winter, instead of waiting? Let’s think it through.

There are essential things to consider when sizing up any player’s extension potential.

  • Age: You may feel yourself less inclined to give a four-year deal to a 36-year-old than a 26-year-old
  • Position: Guys who play up the middle typically carry more of the defensive load, which should be considered on top of offensive performance
  • Free Agent Status: Pre-arb? Arb-eligible? Free agent? Service time (and the free agent status that awaits it once six years pass) plays a key role here
  • Performance: Well, duh

The length and size of every MLB contract varies depending on the above, and although every player is unique, it helps to look for comps to give an idea of what sort of figures the player should expect.

Contract comps are rarely easy with so many moving parts to factor in - we tried this with Aaron Nola earlier this year and got relatively lucky - and Hoskins doesn’t have a ton of neighbors here. He’s a natural first baseman, but we’ll include a couple of corner outfielders in our pool; comps should also have at least one year of service time, as Rhys will have one year and 50 or so days by the time 2018 wraps up; and the best models will feature 25-to-27-year-olds with similar performance over their first season-plus.

It’s an inexact science, but here are some of the better comps from the past few seasons.

Hoskins Comps

Player 1st Year MLB Games Age Years AAV ($M) Options Opt-Out? AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Player 1st Year MLB Games Age Years AAV ($M) Options Opt-Out? AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Rhys Hoskins 2019? 192 25 ? ? ? N .253 .367 .531 135
First Basemen
Freddie Freeman 2014 471 24 8 16.875 0 N .285 .358 .466 124
Paul Goldschmidt 2014 353 26 5 6.4 1 N .289 .376 .517 141
Brandon Belt 2017* 556 27 5 14.56 0 N .271 .347 .456 125
Anthony Rizzo 2013** 173 23 7 5.86 2 N .245 .324 .402 98
Starling Marte 2014 182 25 6 5.17 2 N .275 .332 .440 116
Giancarlo Stanton 2015 634 25 13 25 1 After 2020 .271 .364 .540 144

*Belt’s deal was signed in April 2016, when he had already signed a one-year deal for that season. His numbers in this table are prior to the 2016 season.
**Rizzo’s deal was signed in May 2013, and his numbers are through the 2012 season only.

Fun stuff happening here. If nothing else, this helps put into context just what Hoskins has been able to accomplish in his first full season-plus in the Major Leagues.

Of course, I’ll say it again: These comps are inexact, and for myriad reasons: Belt, Freeman and Rizzo are left-handed; Marte is a plus defensive outfielder; Stanton is Stanton. But the picture comes into slightly clearer focus with the above.

The Goldschmidt comp is the closest across the board, although it’s worth noting that Goldy won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in 2013 while finishing runner-up in MVP voting to Andrew McCutchen. Goldschmidt is also a bit more proficient in stealing bases.

If, considering relative performance and inflation, a five-year deal in the $8-to-9 million AAV range - which would buy out Hoskins’s arbitration years, before considering options - would be considered “fair value,” is that a deal the Phillies, Hoskins, and Scott Boras look to make? Do the Phillies risk giving negotiations a little more time to breathe and wait until the 2019 season is underway?

As with most cases like this, the organization has the “luxury” of waiting things out through two more pre-arbitration seasons. But Hoskins is giving signals that he wants to work something out - with Boras representation or otherwise - and contract talks with him may be the latest bullet point in the itinerary of what’s shaping up to be a busy winter.