Next Tuesday, per Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer, MLB will announce that Citizens Bank Park will host the 2026 All-Star Game. It’s hardly shocking news, as James Wagner, writing for The Washington Post, noted as far back as 2015 that the Philadelphia Phillies wanted to host the 2026 All-Star Game. 2026 will be America’s 250th anniversary, so Philadelphia – which also hosted the All-Star Game in 1976, America’s 200th anniversary – seems like a fitting place to host the midsummer classic for the sport often referred to as “America’s pastime.”
The 2019 Phillies, for any holes that may exist in their starting rotation and bullpen, have a slew of All-Star candidates in their lineup. Bryce Harper, a six-time All-Star, is a near lock represent the National League at the All-Star Game. This year’s game will take place at Progressive Field in Cleveland, and while Rhys Hoskins will face stiff competition at first base, the 26-year-old already has five home runs and 15 RBIs. J.T. Realmuto, considered by many to be the best catcher in the sport, could very well make his second consecutive All-Star appearance. It’s early, but Maikel Franco is emerging as an unlikely candidate, with four early home runs, though he has to compete with Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon and Manny Machado at third base. Additionally, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura and Odubel Herrera have eight combined All-Star Game appearances.
Going through this exercise even as recently as two seasons ago would have been a waste of time. But since the Phillies have a lineup full of All-Star caliber players, it’s interesting to ponder which players on the current team will still be with the organization when the All-Star Game returns to Philadelphia for the first time since 1996.
The obvious first answer to this question is Harper. He signed a 13-year/$330 million contract with the Phillies last month. Though Harper is currently in his eighth year in the league, he’ll still only be 33 at the time of the 2026 MLB All-Star Game. Harper is due to make $26 million in 2026, which will be year eight of his deal. The Phillies hope that Harper will still be a shoe-in for All-Star Games at that juncture of his career, but with a full no-trade clause and no opt-outs in his contract, he’ll almost certainly still be on the Phillies in 2026 regardless of his output.
Given the recent trend of young players being extended, it would seemingly behoove Phillies general manager Matt Klentak to offer Hoskins an extension, or at least buy out his arbitration years. But the Phillies could buy out Hoskins’ arbitration years – he’s under team control through 2023 – and buy out a year or two of free-agency and it still wouldn’t be 2026. The DH may very well be coming to the National League – which could seemingly extend Hoskins’ time with the Phillies – but given the financial investment the Phillies have made in Harper, it’s fair to wonder if they’ll want to commit to paying Hoskins into his mid-30s. That decision, of course, doesn’t need to be made anytime soon, though it could be.
There are a couple arms worth considering.
Aaron Nola, despite a surprisingly poor start to the 2019 season, is in year one of a four-year/$45 million contract, which also features a $16 million club option for 2023 that will almost certainly be exercised, assuming Nola stays healthy. Given that Nola doesn’t rely on overpowering hitters, he should hold up well into his 30s, so it feels entirely possible he’ll still be with the team in 2026, his age-33 season.
Seranthony Dominguez’s slow start to the 2019 season probably isn’t a sign that he won’t be the Phillies most valuable reliever for the next five years. It is, however, a reminder of how mortal relief pitchers are after he impressed in 53 games as a rookie in 2018. Hard throwing relievers often deal with elbow injuries, struggle to adjust to velocity decreases and are usually the first to be traded when a team falls out of contention. Dominguez hasn’t even reached arbitration eligibility yet, but he would be pushing a decade with the Phillies if he was still with the organization in 2026. That just doesn’t happen often with relievers.
Perhaps the two most interesting possibilities are the aforementioned Herrera and Scott Kingery. Both are signed long-term, but each feels like a longshot to still be on the Phillies in 2026.
Herrera signed a five-year/$30.5 million with the Phillies in December of 2016, which also contains affordable club options for 2022 and 2023. The Phillies, however, spent their No. 1 overall pick that same year on Mickey Moniak, who projects as a center fielder at the major league level. Harper, at least for the foreseeable future, will be in right field. That doesn’t leave much room for Herrera if Moniak pans out. Even if he doesn’t, Herrera will be 34 in 2026. Given his streaky nature and occasional mental lapses, it’s difficult to envision Herrera lasting 12 years with one team.
Kingery, meanwhile, signed a six-year deal with three additional club options before he ever played a game as a Phillie. The final of those club options will be in 2026, his age-32 season. While it’s fair to point out that Kingery’s deal will never handicap the Phillies – the most he’s guaranteed in any individual season is $8 million in 2023 – it’s also fair to point out that the hitting tools he displayed in the upper levels of the minors haven’t found their way to Philadelphia yet. If he recaptures the form that allowed him to hit .304 with 26 home runs between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2017, his three additional options almost certainly will be exercised. But Kingery has a .226 career batting average at the major league level. Projecting where he’s going to be seven years from now is hard to do.
After that, it’s easy to rule some guys out.
Andrew McCutchen is 32 and signed a three-year/$45 million contract this past offseason to join the Phillies. He’s had a productive start to his tenure in red pinstripes, but he faces an uphill battle to still be in the league in seven years, let alone still with the Phillies. Jean Segura is 29 and signed through 2022, with an affordable $17 million club option for 2023. Will he still be here in 2026, though? You can draw your own conclusions.
While those two Phillies offseason acquisitions are pretty unlikely to be with the Phillies in 2026, Realmuto is at least possible. Realmuto turned 28 last month, and while he can become a free-agent after the 2020 season, the Phillies parted with their former No. 1 overall prospect – RHP Sixto Sanchez – as part of a package to acquire the All-Star backstop. You would think they didn’t do that only expecting him to spend two seasons with the team. Still, Realmuto will be 35 in 2026. He could sign an extension with the Phillies that keeps him here past 2020, allows him to become a Phillies Wall of Famer and still not be with the club in seven years. That’s the nature of being a catcher.
Cesar Hernandez is the longest-tenured Phillie, but while the organization is high enough on the 28-year-old that he’s held his spot over Kingery, second base has become a very replaceable position. Hernandez can become a free-agent after 2020, so he’ll likely be pretty far out of the picture by the time 2026 rolls around. Despite a hot start by Franco, the same is likely true in his case. It’s been one of the worst kept secrets in baseball that the Phillies have been open for business regarding Franco for at least a year now and the Phillies spent their first-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft on Alec Bohm, who, as of now, is a third baseman.
And while it’s fair to be very encouraged by Zach Eflin’s start to the 2019 season – the 24-year-old has a 0.75 ERA in two starts in 2019 – it’s a little early to even consider him in this discussion.
Again, simply because a player will still be on the Phillies in 2026 doesn’t mean they will be playing at an All-Star caliber. Cole Hamels, for example, was one of three Phillies All-Stars in 2012, seven years ago. While Hamels was excellent for the Chicago Cubs after the non-waiver trade deadline a season ago, he hasn’t consistently pitched at an All-Star level since 2016. Jonathan Papelbon and Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies two other All-Stars in 2012, haven’t played in a few seasons now.
It’s entirely possible that while a few current Phillies All-Star candidates – Harper, Hoskins, Nola – could still be performing at an elite level in seven years, the player(s) who represent the Phillies in the 2026 All-Star Game aren’t at the major league level yet. Bohm, Spencer Howard, Adonis Medina and Luis Garcia are among the Phillies prospects who could be All-Stars in the future. Heck, it’s possible the Phillies haven’t drafted or signed the player(s) who will don red pinstripes at the 2026 All-Star Game yet – Nola, for example, was the Phillies lone All-Star in 2018, four summers after the Phillies selected him in the MLB Draft.
Trying to predict future rosters and All-Stars – as fun as it is – may be an exercise in futility. What appears certain is that the All-Star Game will return to Philadelphia in 2026 for the first time since 1996, when Ricky Bottalico was the Phillies only All-Star.
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