Rhys Hoskins’ move from first base to left field in 2018 didn’t exactly prove to be smooth, as the young slugger turned in one of the worst statistical seasons of any outfielder in baseball (-24 Defensive Runs Saved, -19 Outs Above Average, -11.3 Ultimate Zone Rating). Hoskins has already spoken about a desire to continue to improve, though he did admit when asked by Matt Breen of Philly.com that he’d prefer to be back at first base in an ideal world. Hoskins emphasized that he’s told both GM Matt Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler that he’ll play wherever he’s asked but spoke about the comfort level he feels at first base as opposed to in the outfield.
In his season-end press conference, Klentak acknowledged that moving Hoskins back to first base is “something we’ve thought a lot about,” Breen writes, though clearly there are numerous moving parts in that scenario. The Phils experimented with Carlos Santana at third base in September, though he comes with his own defensive shortcomings there, and that shift would render Maikel Franco without a spot. Expected offseason pursuits of marquee free agents Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado also figure to factor into the calculus. Though there are dozens of roads the Phils could take to get there, Klentak stressed that “there is no question” that the team needs to improve its defense.
More from the division…
- With the offseason upon the Phillies, the focus in Philadelphia will shift from Kapler to Klentak, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. It’ll be a pivotal winter for Klentak’s future in the organization, he notes, as there’ll be pressure to generate more success with this offseason’s group of free agents than there was with last year’s crop. Klentak himself spoke about the performance of last year’s group of free agents, noting that Jake Arrieta, Carlos Santana, Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter were fairly productive on the whole — especially relative to other free-agent signings throughout the league. Without improvement, Brookover, adds, the GM could find himself on the hot seat. It’s an interesting example of the importance of sequencing over the course of a given season; in a vacuum, a 14-win improvement for the Phillies looks like a clear victory. And had the team started poorly or even found a more evenly paced route to an 80-82 finish, the narrative would likely be different. Instead, their late collapse adds sizable pressure to improve even when the year-over-year win total has already generally trended in the right direction.
- Braves assistant general manager Perry Minasian is of interest to the Mets as they continue to compile a list of GM candidates, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post, though there are not yet any firm indications that the Mets have asked permission to interview him. Puma adds that former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is a “strong possibility” to receive an interview, as has previously been suggested, though the timing remains unclear. Initial interviews will be conducted by assistant GM John Ricco and COO Jeff Wilpon, Puma notes, with Fred Wilpon unlikely to be heavily involved in the process until finalists have been selected.
- The 2019 season will have a different feel for the Marlins than the 2018 season, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Namely, while the Fish were content to let some players develop at the big league level this past season, there will be more expectations for immediate results next season. Rule 5 picks Elieser Hernandez and Brett Graves will likely spend more time in the minors now that they can be optioned, he notes, while players who struggle (as Lewis Brinson did in the Majors this past season) might be sent back down for more seasoning as the team strives to improve its results. “Obviously, we did some things this year where it wasn’t necessary you had to produce to be here,” said manager Don Mattingly. “But moving forward I have the sense that’s going to change. If you don’t produce, it’s not going to be a year where we’ll let you keep developing. At some point, you’re going to have to produce.”