The Phillies made the decision to non-tender longtime Phillies Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez, making the pair free agents. Now, both players have found new homes with major league teams for the upcoming season.
Franco signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Royals and will be guaranteed $2.95-million in 2020 with incentive clauses that could add another $1.05-million to the deal. The numbers needed to trigger the incentives were not disclosed. Hernandez got a one-year, $6.25-million deal with the Cleveland Indians, which will reunite him with Carlos Santana who played one season with the Phillies in 2018.
It was estimated that Franco was in line for an arbitration deal in the neighborhood of $6.75-million, while Hernandez was expected to garner a deal worth as much as $11-million through arbitration. The costs associated with re-signing Franco and Hernandez were a major detriment to the Phillies keeping them on the roster.
Franco will assume the third base spot with the Royals, allowing them to move Hunter Dozier in a role much like the one that Scott Kingery has played for the Phillies, moving to various positions as needed. The Royals also have Whit Merrifield, who can play various positions, giving them flexibility in their lineup.
Royals GM Dayton Moore told The Athletic that Franco filled all of the things that the team was looking for in a player to add some more pop in the lower third of the lineup. “We identified Maikel as somebody who we felt has tremendous upside and a lot he can improve on. He’s somebody who we would also control for a couple of years. (Franco is not eligible to become a free agent until 2022.) We were also trying to find someone who fit for us economically. He fits all of the criteria.”
The Indians moved on from the injury plagued Jason Kipnis at second base, who struggled to produce at even league average numbers in 2019. While Hernandez saw his offensive numbers trail off from previous seasons, he was still considered a league average type second baseman and the Indians will consider that an improvement even if it is for just one season. Unlike Franco, Hernandez can become a free agent following the 2020 season. The deal he signed with Cleveland is below the $7.5-million he earned with the Phillies in 2019.
Hernández has posted a .279/.357/.395 slash line, with an average of 15 stolen bases per year over the past four seasons.
The Phillies plan on replacing Hernandez with Jean Segura, who moves over from shortstop after the signing of free agent Didi Gregorius. Third base will likely be the home of Scott Kingery, who primarily played in center field last season, but has the ability to play multiple positions. Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn and Odubel Herrera are all in the mix to play center field in 2020, with Haseley being the front-runner.