clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What to do about third base in 2020

It’s been a problem for some time now. It’s also time for the Phillies to make up their mind about how they want to improve that spot

87th MLB All-Star Game Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Third base for the Phillies has been an issue for the team for some time. Using Baseball Reference’s Play Index shows us that futility with the bat at the hot corner has been a big issue since the beginning of the century.

Now, there have been some decent players there, with Pedro Feliz and Placido Polanco providing excellent gloves there during the most recent set of glory years, negating their weak hitting. But with the game asking for more offense seemingly every year, the inability of the team’s third basemen to produce at even a league average level is a pretty large stain on their team ledger.

It’s not for lack of effort. As I mentioned in the Maikel Franco review, the team gave him a lot of rope when it came to trying to improve because he was touted as a pretty high level prospect. Now, with a new set of field managers coming in and having the background and clout that they have, it’s looking more and more likely that the team will move on from Franco and look to upgrade at the position. So, where does the team go from here? Here are five possible scenarios the team could explore.

Scenario 1: tender Franco a contract and wait for Bohm to arrive

This was one I broached in the previously mentioned post. The team already has a pretty good idea about what they’ll get from Franco should they begin the season with him there. They could always hope that a new manager and hitting coach could light a fire under him and hope he catches fire enough to lock down the spot while they wait for Alec Bohm to get some plate appearances against better pitching in the minors. At that point, Franco could have begun his scheduled swoon and a replacement could be ready to go for him that doesn’t rhyme with Shmawn Shmodriguez.

Of course, this scenario plays with fire in that one would be assuming that Franco will produce. We’ve all been down that road before and it’s quite possible the team does not wish to find themselves hoping for a miraculous Franco recovery. Too little of production could make other hitters have to work more and if they aren’t hitting themselves to start the season, the team could find themselves in a hole in the division that now contains a two-time defending division winner and a World Series champion. They’ll need all the wins they can get.

Scenario 2: sign a free agent

There are several options this offseason that would only cost the team money. All they’d have to do is open the checkbook and start writing. Even still, this scenario comes with several subsets itself.

If they want to go big, there are some names out there that could be of interest. Josh Donaldson, Anthony Rendon and Mike Moustakas lead the players here that would make a big impact on the team both offensively and defensively. Rendon is obviously the prize bat on the free agent and will command a contract worthy of that title. With all the holes in the rotation and an unwillingness to go beyond the luxury tax only a certain amount of money to spend, he might be too expensive to acquire AND address the pitching staff as well. The other two might be more feasible financially, thus making them more likely targets should the team decide to dip their toes in the free agency pool. Moustakas, especially, holds that sweet, sweet appeal of not having a qualifying offer attached to him, thus allowing any team that signs him to be able to retain draft picks, something Matt Klentak has said he’d like to do this offseason.

If the team wants to add someone cheaper and/or on a shorter (re: one year) deal, names like Todd Frazier or Logan Forsythe could be an option. Notice I didn’t say a better option because they aren’t anywhere in the same zip code as the aforementioned free agents, but on a one-year deal to help bridge the gap to Bohm, they might make for a suitable replacement. These two players are also aware of the proximity of Bohm to the major leagues and may not want to sign here knowing that if he catches fire in Lehigh Valley, the team might bring him up to supplant either Frazier or Forsythe. It’s something to consider, but probably not exactly likely.

Scenario 3: trade for an upgrade

This is an interesting place to be. The Phillies have some players to trade. They may not be the blue-chip kind of players that teams beat the door down to get, but they still have some value when combined into the right package. If the Phillies wanted to make a move, they could. But who could they make a move for?

The obvious trade candidate that leaps to mind is Kris Bryant. The rumors have been put out there that the Cubs are willing to entertain offers for Bryant this offseason and could likely move him. He’s only got two years of control left and if he wins his arbitration case, he might have less than that. There is some smoke to the notion that he isn’t re-signing in Chicago, so the Cubs are looking to move on from him. With his agent being Scott Boras, it’s almost guaranteed that he’ll test the free agent market once it’s time, so the Cubs might be looking to get some value for him now while it’s at its highest. It’s the type of package that might cause some hesitancy on the part of the Phillies front office. It’s virtually assured that they would have to part with either Bohm or Spencer Howard to lead off any trade package they wanted to discuss. It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that both would have to be involved. Is that something the team wants to do to start their trade offer? We just can’t know what they’re thinking at this point. But, let’s say the Cubs come to the Phillies with this offer: Bohm or Howard, Scott Kingery, and a mid-level pitching prospect, should the Phillies do that?

Another interesting name, albeit one that isn’t very likely, is Miguel Andujar from the Yankees. Brian Cashman is on record as saying he is generating a lot of interest already, so you’d have to believe that the Phillies are one of the teams sniffing around. Andujar is coming off of a major shoulder surgery that he needed in 2019 and wasn’t all that good in the field to begin with, so a lot of his value is whether his bat will bounce back. Combine that scary proposition with the fact that the Yankees’ demands might be quite high and you have a recipe for cooling off a bit on acquiring him. Still, it’s an interesting avenue of improvement that the team absolutely should explore.

If we wanted to get really crazy, they could call Colorado and see if they’re going to be rebuilding. If they are, would they want to deal Nolan Arenado? Hey, I said it was crazy.

Scenario 4: move Kingery to the position

It’s not like Scotty Jetpax hasn’t played there before. Last year, he appeared in 40 games as a third baseman and acquitted himself admirably. If you wanted to get really, really techincal, he had his best numbers hitting wise as a third baseman (.294/.340/.537, 5 HR in 147 PA). While in the field, he showed that, while he won’t be a Gold Glove candidate there, he can man it just as well as someone like Franco could. Having him be a league average defensive third baseman might be a goal that is totally feasible. It would also allow him to settle into one spot on field and focus more on how he can continue to improve with the bat.

This situation would also help resolve what could be a looming debate about the future of Cesar Hernandez. No doubt Kingery is the future at the keystone for the Phillies, with Hernandez entering his final season of team control. But the Phillies do still have that season of control and they might want to hold on to Hernandez just a bit more.

Scenario 5: just start 2020 with Bohm

Remember when the team signed Scott Kingery to big extension before the 2018 season, then brought him up right away? Why not do the same with Bohm?

From all reports, Bohm’s bat is nearly ready. It was the thing that got him drafted third overall and, after a rocky start, has lived up to expectations. He also still needs to work on his defense, but if it’s even tolerable now, then the team might as well let him get major league coaching at the position and let his bat enter the lineup.

The issue here is twofold. They would no doubt like to gain that last year of control by keeping him down. If they bring him up without an extension signed, they would be “risking” that he is successful and they wouldn’t be able to control his rights for as long as they would like. While there hasn’t really been a case like this under this current regime, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the team has not already thought about this.

The other issues is that Bohm just really isn’t ready. If they do plan on heading north with him out of spring training and don’t have a contingency plan in place should he struggle in the spring, then they will have set themselves up to fail once again at the hot corner. A lot would have to depend on how the rest of the roster building goes this offseason.

So, the million dollar question is: which is the best scenario? What do you think the team should do? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and in the poll.


What should the Phillies do about third base in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    bring back Maikel Franco and wait for Alec Bohm
    (222 votes)
  • 37%
    sign a free agent
    (660 votes)
  • 6%
    trade for a player
    (116 votes)
  • 20%
    move Scott Kingery to 3B
    (356 votes)
  • 23%
    start the season with Alec Bohm
    (405 votes)
1759 votes total Vote Now