Why the Phillies shouldn’t target a first baseman on the 2023 trade market

Phillies Rhys hoskins
Philadelphia Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins hits a home run during the fifth inning in Game 3 of baseball’s World Series between the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

When looking at the Phillies, there aren’t many holes on the roster. Dave Dombrowski has brought together a group of players that captured the National League crown in 2022. In the offseason, he added Trea Turner, Taijuan Walker, and upgraded the bullpen. Adding to an already solid core made the Phillies look like division contenders for 2023.

But then injures, like every season, knocked at the Phillies’ front door. The biggest of which was Rhys Hoskins tearing his ACL. The injury took him out until at least the playoffs.

His replacements have been lackluster as well. Darick Hall started the season as the Phillies’ 1B and was promptly injured in the 2nd series of the season. He just resumed his 1B duties on July 2nd. He’s played in just 8 games but has just 5 hits and 1 for extra bases.

His replacement was Kody Clemens who now finds himself in Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Overall, Clemens hit just .230 with a .644 OPS. He did have a stretch from April 23- June 11 where he hit .310 with an .875 OPS. He also flashed stellar defense at 1B.

Phillies Kody Clemens
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Kody Clemens tags out Chicago Cubs’ Nick Madrigal on a bunt to end the fourth inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 29, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Phillies should stay internal

Many point to 1B as an obvious point of improvement. With the likes of Paul Goldschmidt and CJ Cron on the trade market, you can hear fans clamoring for a trade.

Unfortunately, it’s not in the Phillies’ best interest.

The best move the Phillies can make is getting Kyle Schwarber out of left field. Schwarber currently has a -2.2 dWAR and -18 defensive runs saved. He is in the bottom 1% of Outs Above Average and outfield jump and the bottom 6% of sprint speed.

Kyle Schwarber has been an unmitigated disaster in LF. Moving him to DH has to be priority #1. Adding another 1B could delay that matter.

Since the start of the season, Bryce Harper has been training to play the field at 1B. At the moment, he occupies the DH spot 99% of the time. If Harper can manage to play a passable 1B, the impact would be much larger than adding another player. The move could improve the Phillies’ defense while keeping Schwarber’s massive power in the lineup.

The Phillies must find out if Harper can actually play first base before packaging prospects for a first baseman they might not need. Sometimes addition by subtraction is the right way to go and subtracting Schwarber from LF needs to be priority #1.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke