As the clock turns to December 2nd, teams enter the final day to offer 2020 contracts to players who are eligible for salary arbitration by 8 p.m.
There are nine players eligible for arbitration on the Phillies, two of which are not expected to receive offers in their final year of eligibility. One is Maikel Franco, and the other is Cesar Hernandez.
The end of an era
Cesar Hernandez has been a Philadelphia Phillie since he was 16 years old. Coming out of Venezuela, the speedy second baseman wound up taking over the helm from future Hall-of-Famer Chase Utley.
Making his MLB debut in 2013 against Red Sox, Cesar played some of the most consistent baseball the team had seen during their rebuild years. Between 2013 and 2017, Cesar had a solid .284 average, while picking up 52 stolen bases and only 365 strikeouts. Throughout his MLB career, Cesar barely misses games, as well. Playing in well over 120 games per season since becoming a consistent starter, Cesar stood firm at second.
Since 2018 though, his lack of production is argued to be one of the reasons the Phillies could not reach the next level. While taking up space from future star Scott Kingery, Cesar’s production has declined drastically on both ends of the field. Offensively, Cesar has only batted .266 since 2017, and struck out 255 times in two seasons. Sure, the coaching mentality played a part in that, however, Cesar showed fans mental lapses almost nonstop. Hernandez had back-to-back career highs with errors (12) in those two seasons as well.
It sucks to say because Cesar Hernandez has been one of those sneakily solid players throughout his career. He never says a word, just goes out and plays baseball for the love of the game. It will hurt to see him go, as fans underappreciated Cesar since he was so good during the years the Phillies flat-out sucked.
However, being benched for lack of hustle last season, consistently lacking baseball IQ in the field, being mixed with a flustering bat at the plate, it’s time to call it quits with the Cesar project.
Fortunately for him, Cesar should end up signed on another ball club fairly quickly.
As for the Phillies, another homegrown second baseman waiting to play one position consistently. Despite making him the ultimate utility player, Scott Kingery was signed long term to be the guy in red pinstripes at second. Kingery had a stellar year this past season, which should be only a preview of what’s to come.
Another option could be Jean Segura. With talks about signing free agent Didi Gregorius to a contract, this could push Segura to second base if he stays. Segura fell flat this past season but is a career .280 hitter with plus side fielding. This could be their best option for moving forward. Segura at second, Gregorius at short, and Kingery (or someone else, like Donaldson, not sure about Kingery’s arm strength to throw cross-field) at third could make for a great threat for the Phillies.
Again, it will hurt to see Cesar go. For a casual fan, one may not completely realize the impact he had during his prime. The only thing is that a player is also evaluated while the team is winning, which is where Cesar failed to shine. Letting Hernandez (and Franco) go at this point will help the ballclub get to the next level. The Phillies need to bring another parade down Broad Street, and these are the types of moves needed to do just that.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports