Can the Phillies Find a Tommy Joseph Trade Partner?
The Phillies find themselves in a precarious situation, one that probably will receive a great deal of attention between now and the July 31 trade deadline. The Phillies have two first basemen: one in the Major Leagues who is putting up Major League numbers. The other is in Triple-A and can do nothing else there. Recently, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said that it was not likely that Tommy Joseph and Rhys Hoskins can co-exist on the same team in the Major Leagues. So what will happen?
All signs point to the Phillies exploring trade opportunities for Joseph. The situation is difficult because the Phillies do not want to be forced to trade Joseph. Joseph is on pace for 28 home runs and is particularly effective against left-handed pitching. If the Phillies show they are desperate to unload Joseph, they may get smaller trade offers in return.
Any team acquiring Joseph will have control for four years beyond 2017. That may make Joseph an attractive trade candidate. Joseph is earning the Major League minimum in 2017, so he would not add to an acquiring team's payroll. But who exactly is in the market for a right-handed first baseman in July 2017?
New York Yankees. The Yankees are interested in a couple first base bats. One of them might be Justin Bour, set to take part in tonight's home run derby. The Yankees have Greg Bird, who is injured and struggling to get back onto the field. Bird and Bour are left-handed bats, so perhaps Joseph would still be a nice compliment to the Yankees, who have the flexibility of the designated hitter position.
Texas Rangers. The Rangers say that they are not looking to add any short-term assets, but rather only long-term pieces. First baseman Mike Napoli has not met the Rangers' expectations, batting just .194 heading into the break. Could the Rangers look to upgrade with Joseph, who could take the position over not just this year but in the future?
St. Louis Cardinals. Cardinals general manager-turned-president John Mozeliak has said that the Cardinals are not looking for short-term assets, either. With the departure of Matt Adams and with Matt Carpenter taking ground balls at his old position of second base, first base very well could be open to add someone like Joseph. The Cardinals need a left-handed bat, though, and unless they add one of those in the outfield, Joseph may not fit.
Oakland Athletics, Kansas City Royals, and Miami Marlins. These are three teams who have first basemen that might be traded. If the Yankees added the likes of Yonder Alonso, Eric Hosmer, or Bour, that might open a spot for someone like Joseph. The Phillies could let these teams know that if they move a piece, the Phillies could be a third team in any trade. The Phillies could also let it be known that they can eat money if prospects come back to them, too. Hosmer may stay put as the Royals are making a run, but maybe this offseason Joseph could be a fit when Hosmer is a free agent.
The move is somewhat risky in trading a Major League player to make room for a minor league player. If Hoskins fails, the Phillies could be criticized for making the wrong move. But, first base is not a position that would be too difficult to staff if the Phillies needed another player down the line.
The reality is, both players can play no other position than first base. Not a great deal of teams need a first baseman and there are better alternatives out there if a team is looking for a pennant run. The Phillies may not have a trade for Joseph until the offseason. If that is the case, Hoskins is just going to have to wait.