2018 Value 50

Cesar Hernandez’s value comes with options



cesarhernandez-300x168.jpgWe ranked Cesar Hernandez No. 19 on our annual Value 50 for 2018. Here’s more on why we think he’s important:

The success of the Phillies may lie in more important sources of future success like Rhys Hoskins and Aaron Nola, but nowhere is the franchise’s most immediate success embodied than in Cesar Hernandez.

He’s been listed as a prime candidate for a breakout season entering this year, and barring injury, there is no real reason to think he won’t. He’s been consistently good on bad teams so far in his career, and now that he has a spot carved out for his own in the lineup and in the field – for now, at least – it’s safe to believe that on an improved offense like the Phillies have, he’ll be able to take leap from good to very good.

If you’re waiting for the “but,” here it comes.

Cesar’s importance and value doesn’t lie so much on what he’s going to do on the field, but the options he’s going to present the franchise this year if he does make that jump. It’s no secret the Phillies’ best offensive prospect, second baseman Scott Kingery, is nipping at the heels of Hernandez. His ceiling is higher, he’s younger, he’s cheaper and from everything we’ve seen, he’s ready for the major leagues.

In part because of service time rules when it comes to contracts, Kingery is going to start the year in Lehigh Valley where he’ll probably get some exposure at other defensive positions to join the major league team as a super utility guy in May, allowing both Hernandez and Kingery to play on the same day.

But at some point, a decision will need to be made concerning the future of the Phillies at second base. And most of it is up to Hernandez as to what the Phillies will do:

  • If he’s mildly successful/average: The Phillies can deal him at the all-star break for (what else?) starting pitching help and hand second base over to Kingery.
  • If he’s wildly successful: The Phillies can plant him at second base, sign him to a long-term deal and pencil him in at second and the first or second spot in the batting order for the next six years. Then they have more good options for Kingery: They can either move him to third and get rid of Maikel Franco and his broken swing, move him to the outfield and move one of the other outfielders for pitching help, or move Kingery for pitching help.
  • If he’s hurt and/or has a bad first half or year: They can transition him to a utility role, shop him and see what they can get while allowing Kingery to take over second full-time. They can also stick it out with Hernandez for the year and then get what they can in the offseason.

Look at all those options that are dependent solely on how Hernandez performs this year, or even in the first three months of the year. Most of the options produce value and all of them likely result in future wins for the Phillies. How can that not be one of the most important people within the franchise?

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Mike

    March 22, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    Can’t the Phils just trade Franco, move Kingery to third and keep Hernandez?

    • schmenkman

      March 22, 2018 at 9:14 pm

      It’s possible, but a couple of reasons not to:

      One is that Kingery doesn’t have the arm for third base.

      The other is that after subpar seasons in 2016 and especially ’17, Franco doesn’t have much trade value. He’s worth much more to the Phillies as someone with the potential to fulfill the promise he showed as a 22 year old rookie in 2015, and so the plan for now appears to be give him a couple months to see if adjustments to his stance and swing can help him unlock that potential.

      • Ken Bland

        March 22, 2018 at 10:10 pm

        Couple things. One, whatever adjustments have been made have in sum resulted in an absolute best, with VERY rose colored glasses on, less than fair spring. But, adjustments have followed adjustments, so you plod forward and hope for the best. Pitch selection (from very limited first hand observation) is still a project (admittedly, when isn’t it for any hitter save Ichiro in his prime (7 swings and misses one year up to the all-star break) and contact doesn’t match his supposed potential. Maybe the latest stance is only a start.

        Second, the low value seems easy enough to agree on, and that potential is tiresome, but it’s a fact that Donaldson, Encarnacion, Justin Turner were older than Franco when they turned it around.
        Patience is tough, VERY tough, but an option for them. Couple months seems fair to expect a turnaround, but I don’t know what the club has in mind time wise. Longer wouldn’t surprise me.

        Don’t know nothin’ about no Kingery’s arm for 3rd base. Young man sho’ nuff can smack the ball though.

  2. Craig Glessner

    March 23, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    The more I watch the less inclined I am to trading Hernandez. Franco is frustrating but I agree he has a better arm to play third on regular basis. Who knows maybe he will get a fire under his butt when we bring up Kingery and there is a bit of a rotation. I am hesitant on Kingery at third everyday because I’m not sure if he would be more susceptible to an arm inquiry. With a bat that good there will be a spot in the lineup everyday somewhere second, third or even outfield. I like our lineup and with this much depth an injury (which always happens) wouldn’t kill us, I know we need another starting pitcher but things will work themselves out by the trading deadline. GO PHILLIES

  3. Ncik M

    March 25, 2018 at 8:52 am

    Cesar’s value was never higher than it was this past offseaon. The problem was there wasn’t much of a 2B market. I know what the numbers say but just watch him play. He does nothing that makes you think he is a difference maker. My guess is your option 3. He struggles or gets hurt. Then his value takes a dive

    • schmenkman

      March 25, 2018 at 3:23 pm

      Getting on base isn’t sexy, but it’s the most important thing a hitter does, and Cesar is very good at it.

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