Last week the Phillies agreed to contract terms with four players on the roster who were arbitration eligible. The following players were offered deals based on their years of eligibility and they are Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco, Luis Garcia, and Cameron Rupp. Franco, Garcia, and Rupp were all in their first year of arbitration eligibility while Hernandez is on his second.
The players will earn different totals due to their value and arbitration year. So, for 2018 Hernandez will earn $5.1 million, Franco will earn $2.95 million, Rupp will earn $2.05 million, and Garcia will earn $1.2 million. However, even though these players have accepted contract terms for this year, it does not necessarily mean their position is safe for 2018.
Rupp is the first player that comes to mind as one from this group that might not make the roster out of spring training. With Jorge Alfaro due to be the starter and getting a majority of the reps behind the plate, Rupp will have to compete for the backup role against Andrew Knapp. This will be a position of interest as typically a team will only carry one back up catcher for their bench.
The backup catcher position will be an interesting spring training matchup as both players have plus and minuses. Rupp is a subpar defensive catcher ranking near the bottom of the league last year in runs saved for regular catchers. He and Knapp both struggle with framing as well as throw downs. Where Knapp will certainly have the edge is the on-base percentage. Rupp has a below .300 OBP for his career while last year Knapp posted a .368 OBP and is a switch hitter.
Cesar Hernandez, who accepted his contract and has been rumored to be on the trade block the entire off-season, again may find himself off the team. Where Rupp may not be on the team for lack of skill, Hernandez still remains valuable in the trade market. For one of the top leadoff hitters in the league to only be making $5.1 million this year with two more years of arbitration eligibility, he is a valuable trade chip. Since Hernandez’s surplus value is so great, look for the Phillies to move Hernandez during the season when Scott Kingery is ready to make the jump to the majors for the best deal on the table.
Maikel Franco recently found himself in hot water for his destructive behavior with a Dominican Winter League team and will surely add to the doubt of his long-term standing with the Phillies. This year will absolutely be a make or break year for Franco, and the team might not give him more than a few months if he fails to make an improvement. His value is the lowest its ever been and the once promising player could find his starting spot gone before the All-Star break.
The final player that received an arbitration contract was Luis Garcia. After having a great year last season posting a 2.85 ERA coming out of the bullpen, Garcia will have no problem making the roster this year. Depending on where Gabe Kapler will use his bullpen pieces, Garcia could return to be a steady setup man for Hector Neris.
All told, Rupp, Hernandez, and Franco might not make it the whole season on the Phillies roster for one reason or another. For the time being, Garcia seems to be the only player guaranteed to be with the team for the year. Their statuses will become clearer when the team enters spring training and announces their 40-man roster for the start of the season.
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