Monday Could Be the End of Phillies Tenure for Hernandez, Franco
Monday, December 2 is the next big deadline in major league baseball in the offseason. Teams must decide whether or not to tender a contract to their arbitration-eligible players by 8:00 p.m. The Phillies have several players eligible for salary arbitration. However, two players stick out as maybe being non-tendered: third baseman Maikel Franco and second baseman Cesar Hernandez.
According to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, it is possible the two will not be Phillies at the day's end:
In all, the Phillies have nine arbitration-eligible players. Hernandez and Franco are probably the only two in jeopardy of not being tendered a contract. The rest of the group includes pitchers Jose Alvarez, Hector Neris, Adam Morgan, Vince Velasquez and Zach Eflin and catchers J.T. Realmuto and Andrew Knapp.
The reason for each player being non-tendered is different.
For Franco, the Phillies have seen brilliance from Franco. They have also seen long periods of poor play. The inconsistency means that the Phillies probably would like a more reliable option at third base. Franco got another chance in 2019 after what seemed to be an awakening in late 2018, but ended up optioned to Triple-A mid-season.
As for Hernandez, he is generally a useful piece on a roster. But Hernandez could be projected to make as much as $11 million in the arbitration process. The Phillies, with Scott Kingery as an option, or with Jean Segura as an option at second base if the Phillies add a shortstop such as Didi Gregorius, there is little urgency to keep Hernandez.
That money would be better spent elsewhere, namely in starting pitching or relief pitching. If tendered contracts, Hernandez and Franco could cost the Phillies north of $17 million in 2020. That money could be better spent.
The free agent market has many infield options, which also could reduce the value of either player. The Baltimore Orioles are expected to non-tender Jonathan Villar, a former Phillies prospect who put together a strong season in the infield for the Orioles in 2019. Other names such as Starlin Castro, Neil Walker, and many others will be available for teams that choose to add an infielder.
The Phillies have generally made moves close to the respective deadlines this offseason, so we might not find out until the last minute.