The Philadelphia Phillies are no doubt moving on from Rhys Hoskins, evidenced by the team committing to Bryce Harper at first base going forward.
In theory, Hoskins - coming off a torn ACL that kept him out all of 2023 - would be a perfect fit for the Cleveland Guardians. The 30-year-old has been a model of consistency over his six years in the majors, essentially a guarantee to get you at least 20 home runs and 20 doubles, going 30/30 twice in 2018 and 2022. He also has a career slash line of .242/.353/.492 with a career 125 OPS+, so it's pretty wonderful imagining him slotting into the Guardians lineup to help out José Ramírez and Josh Naylor.
But here's the question: Where exactly would he fit (there's also the question of whether Cleveland would be willing to pay him)? And how many days would you actually be able to get both him and Josh Naylor in the lineup together?
Hoskins is, of course, a first baseman by trade; he hasn't dabbled in the outfield since his rookie season. He could also DH for Cleveland, but any of these scenarios seems to leave out Naylor, currently entrenched as the team's first baseman. Given his return from a torn ACL, it does seem to make sense to roll out the DH red carpet for Hoskins, but then again, Naylor could benefit from the same treatment; Naylor did have 116 plate appearances at DH in 2023.
There is also the possibility that top prospect Kyle Manzardo enters the equation early next season. Suddenly, the Guardians would have three first basemen. But with a little creative imagining of the roster, they could make it work.
What Would It Take to Sign Rhys Hoskins?
MLB Trade Rumors predicts a Hoskins contract of two years, $36 million, with teams like the Twins, Angels, and Phillies (yeah, still them) in the mix.
If that's really what the market ends up being for Hoskins, that's actually still in the Guardians' wheelhouse. After all, they did just give Josh Bell a two-year, $33 million deal this past year. Though that move ultimately blew up in their face, a deal like that is about as low-risk as you can get.
And this author at least is firmly in the camp of when you have the chance to add a good hitter, you simply find a way to make it work. There's an easy-to-envision scenario in which first base becomes something of a revolving door between Naylor, Hoskins, and Manzardo, with either of those three DHing at any given time. Naylor could certainly find himself playing a little more right field as well. After all, it's not like Cleveland is currently swimming with right-field options.
And the other thing is, signing Hoskins would prevent the potential ramifications of Naylor being injured at any point during the season. When he was on fire last season, there was actually a time when the Guardians had one of the hottest offenses in baseball. But when Naylor went down in late July with an oblique injury, the offense once again fell off a cliff in August. It would be nice to have more potential insurance at first base just in case.
But the truth is, there is likely going to be a lot of competition for Hoskins' services. And given Cleveland's cheaper options in this scenario and their typical lack of creativity in free agency, it just doesn't seem likely the Guardians would pursue him.
But he sure would look good in a Cleveland uniform.