Is the former Phillie a fit for Chicago?
A lot of people here have mentioned Rhys Hoskins as a possible free agent signing by the Cubs. Josh wrote a whole BCB after dark about the possibility. I have a pretty strong opinion on this subject, so of course, let’s talk about Rhys Hoskins.
First, there is this Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma in The Athletic:
With an opening at first base and a need for a middle hitter, the Cubs view Rhys Hoskins as a good fit for their lineup, league sources said, seeing it as another opportunity to add an impact player with playoff experience. without having to draw up a contract.
Hoskins, who helped the Philadelphia Phillies go from a rebuilding team to a World Series contender, has hit six home runs during the 2022 postseason. Hoskins tore the ACL in his left knee during the spring training in March and underwent season-ending surgery. Hoping to make a Kyle Schwarber-style return in October, Hoskins trained at the team’s Florida complex before the Phillies were eliminated from the National League Championship Series.
Ultimately, though, Hoskins didn’t play at all for the Phillies in 2023. Presumably, he’s healthy for 2024.
That said, personally, I’m a big “no” on Hoskins. By the time Hoskins arrived at the Phillies, they had Carlos Santana at first base, so to get Hoskins’ bat in the lineup, they played him in left field, where his play can charitably be described as “terrible” . (He provided a -3.0 defensive bWAR in LF for the Phillies in 2018, which is one of the worst numbers I’ve ever seen.)
Eventually moved to first base in 2019, Hoskins still wasn’t a good defensive player. In 2022, when he started 150 games for the Phillies at first base. Hoskins had a rating of -14.6 by Fangraphs. Of 18 qualifying first basemen in MLB in 2022, this one ranked 16th.
One of the most important things Jed Hoyer did this past offseason was state that the Cubs wanted to become a better defensive team, particularly up the middle. With the signing of Dansby Swanson and moving Nico Hoerner to second base, they accomplished that goal. Even if the Cubs didn’t have a great defensive first baseman in 2023, Cody Bellinger was at least adequate there. Bellinger played more games at 1B for the Cubs (44) than anyone.
Hoskins can hit, that’s for sure, or at least he could before missing the entire 2023 season. Even at that, his OPS dropped from .864 in 2021 to .794 in 2022. He turns 31 in March. MLB Trade Rumors Say he could get a two-year, $36 million contract. It was noted that MLBTR estimates this year were quite high, perhaps an overcorrection when they were very low a year ago. I certainly wouldn’t pay Hoskins that much, and in fact, I’d rather see the Cubs focus on Bellinger. First base defense is important, as we saw during Anthony Rizzo’s time with the Cubs, when he won four Gold Gloves at the position — and then after his trade, you could see at how valuable that was when Frank Schwindel played first base. Schwindel: Great guy, good hitting story for a while, not a good fielder.
Defense matters. We saw it with the 2023 Cubs and their first-ever crop of three Gold Gloves.
Tough pass for me on Hoskins.