As the Phillies went from last team in the playoffs to the World Series in 2022, Rhys Hoskins was a major part of their run. He didn’t exactly light the world on fire during the run, but had long been a key bat in the middle of their lineup as they went from a bottom feeder earlier in his career to the NL champions by 2022. The 148 home runs Hoskins has hit in his career doesn’t include the postseason, including the massive one he hit in Game 3 of the 2022 NLDS, or any of the four he slugged in that year’s NLCS.
However, Hoskins suffered an injury in spring training of this past season, causing him to miss the entire year. While he was way, Bryce Harper filled in at first place, and that appears to be the Phillies’ plan going forward. It appears that 2022 may very well be Hoskins’ final year in Philadelphia, as he’s now on the free agent market.
Should the slugging first baseman be someone the Yankees kick the tires on this winter?
2022 Statistics (Missed all of 2023 due to torn ACL): 156 games, 672 PA, .246/.332/.462, 30 HR, 79 RBI, 122 wRC+, 2.3 fWAR
2024 FanGraphs Depth Charts Projections: 147 games, 637 PA, .242/.332/.461, 29 HR, 82 RBI, 116 wRC+, 2.0 fWAR
Previous Contract: Only year of a one-year, $12 million contract with Phillies
Over the course of his career, Hoskins has pretty much always hit and hit well. His 126 wRC+ from 2017-22 is the 43rd best among qualifiers in that time, not far behind the likes of Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, and Xander Bogaerts. He’s been very good at the plate.
The major drawback of his as a player has been his defense. He already plays first base — a position often suggested for teams to throw iffy fielders at — and his defense still rates poorly. Despite that 126 wRC+ figure, he’s put up just 11.6 fWAR over the course of his career, mostly because of his defense dragging him down.
All that brings us to an important conundrum in regards to a theoretical Hoskins signing: where would he play?
There’s not much doubt that his bat would play well in the Yankees’ lineup. However, first base is currently held by Anthony Rizzo. Yes, he dealt with a concussion that tanked his season, but he was hitting very well before that and is known as a very good defender at the position.
As long as Giancarlo Stanton is on the Yankees, he’s likely to spend most if not all of his time in the DH spot, tying that position up. Beyond that, last week’s trades for Juan Soto, Trent Grisham, and Alex Verdugo have created a full outfield. On days when Stanton’s not playing, someone from the outfield is probably going to spend a lot of those days in the DH slot, nevermind players from the rest of the roster that’ll get a game here or there at that spot too.
Besides that, there is the fact that Hoskins is coming off an entire season missed with an injury. ACL tears are well worn territories in sports, and it’s far from unheard of for players to get back to close to their best after one. That being said, a potential Hoskins signing would happen in order for the Yankees to compete as close to immediately as possible. It’s hard to imagine them making a move where there’s some amount of question marks on how he’d perform in the near future.
MLB Trade Rumors projected Hoskins to get a two-year, $36 million deal this year. That would obviously be more than affordable for the Yankees, but it’s not clear if that would be the best way to allocate money, given the way the roster is currently shaping up. He’s a very good player, though.