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Cubs free agent target: Rhys Hoskins

Is the former Phillie a fit in Chicago?

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Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Many folks here have mentioned Rhys Hoskins as a possible free-agent signing by the Cubs. Josh wrote an entire BCB After Dark about the possibility. I have a pretty strong opinion on this topic, so, sure, let’s talk about Rhys Hoskins.

First, there’s this from Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma in The Athletic:

With an opening at first base and a need for a middle-of-the-order hitter, the Cubs view Rhys Hoskins as a good fit for their roster, league sources said, seeing it as another opportunity to add an impact player with postseason experience without having to go long on a contract.

Hoskins, who helped bridge the Philadelphia Phillies from a rebuilding team to a World Series contender, hit six home runs during the 2022 playoffs. Hoskins tore the ACL in his left knee during spring training in March and underwent season-ending surgery. Hoping to make a Kyle Schwarber-esque comeback in October, Hoskins worked out at the team’s Florida complex before the Phillies were eliminated from the National League Championship Series.

In the end, though, Hoskins didn’t play for the Phillies at all in 2023. Presumably, he’s healthy for 2024.

Having said that, I personally am a big “No” on Hoskins. At the time Hoskins came to 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 be charitably called “terrible.” (He provided -3.0 defensive bWAR in LF for the Phillies in 2018, which is one of the worst figures I’ve ever seen.)

Finally moved to first base in 2019, Hoskins was still not a good defensive player. In 2022, when he started 150 games for the Phillies at first base. Hoskins had a -14.6 ranking by Fangraphs. Of 18 qualified first basemen in MLB in 2022, that ranked 16th.

One of the most important things that Jed Hoyer did last offseason is to state that the Cubs wanted to become a better defensive team, especially up the middle. With the signing of Dansby Swanson and move of Nico Hoerner to second base, they accomplished that. While the Cubs didn’t have a great defensive first baseman in 2023, Cody Bellinger proved at least adequate there. Bellinger played more games at 1B for the Cubs (44) than anyone else.

Hoskins can hit, for sure, or at least he could before he missed 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 says he could get a two-year, $36 million deal. It’s been noted that MLBTR’s estimates this year have been quite high, perhaps an overcorrection for being 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 he was traded, you could see how valuable that was when Frank Schwindel played first base. Schwindel: Great guy, good hitting story for a while, not a good defender.

Defense matters. We saw that with the 2023 Cubs and their first-time-ever haul of three Gold Gloves.

Hard pass for me on Hoskins.


Rhys Hoskins

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    ... the Cubs should sign him for the amount proposed in the MLBTR article
    (37 votes)
  • 21%
    ... the Cubs should sign him, but for a different amount in dollars or years or both
    (123 votes)
  • 68%
    ... the Cubs should not sign him
    (391 votes)
  • 2%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (16 votes)
567 votes total Vote Now