The Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday were hit with the news that stalwart first baseman Rhys Hoskins has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and will require reconstructive surgery. While the club has yet to disclose any kind of timeline for Hoskins, the reasonable assumption is that he'll miss the entire 2023 season.
The Phillies are the reigning National League champs, and they've invested heavily in contention during recent years. This offseason, for instance, they made a splash by signing star shortstop Trea Turner to an 11-year, $300 million contract. Given their commitment to winning in 2023 – and given the fact that they must navigate the early weeks and perhaps months of the season without core slugger Bryce Harper – the front office must do its best to replace Hoskins' lost production.
Speaking of which, Hoskins, who's going into his walk year, boasts a career OPS+ of 125, and in his most recent seasons he's been roughly in line with those career norms. Power and patience are Hoskins' leading skills, and for his career he's averaged 36 home runs, 36 doubles, and 98 walks per 162 games played. Such production is generally hard to come by, but perhaps lowering the bar is that Hoskins typically gives back some value in the field and on the bases.
Given the late hour of the offseason and the strip-mined state of the free-agent market, an internal solution seems the likeliest course of action for Philly. On that front, the Phillies could shift Alec Bohm across the diamond to first base and plug veteran utility man Josh Harrison in at Bohm's current position of third base. The Phils could also put Darick Hall at first base, likely as the primary half of a platoon, but he's perhaps worse with the glove than Hoskins is. Even so, that would open up the DH spot for Bohm, Nick Castellanos, or Kyle Schwarber.
As implied, there's little on the free-agent market here in late March, but Miguel Sanó, formerly of the Twins, is one possibility. Sanó missed almost all of last season because of his own knee problems, but he seems likely a reasonable candidate to be the right-handed half of a first-base platoon with Hall. Looking further ahead, Luke Voit, another right-handed bat who could pair with Hall or even man the position daily, has an upcoming opt-out built into his minor-league contract with the Brewers. Maybe a low-level trade for Boston's Bobby Dalbec, another right-handed-hitting first baseman without a regular role, is perhaps worth consideration.
A somewhat unconventional approach may be to give Harper some time after first base once he returns from elbow surgery. Harper could be back as early as late May – the Phillies recently opted not to place him on the 60-day injured list to start the season – but it's also possible that he'll be ready to hit and run the bases before he's ready to throw, which first basemen very occasionally have to do. He's not completely unfamiliar with the position, as he's made two career appearances at first base.
The trade deadline figures to provide other opportunities, of course (possibles include C.J. Cron of the Rockies or Christian Walker should the Diamondbacks flail in the first half). However, until teams begin sorting themselves into buyers and sellers, the Phillies should probably seek out a right-handed wingman – and perhaps late-inning defensive replacement – for Hall. The margin for error in the tough National League East may be too slim to address the unfortunate loss of Hoskins with what's already in place.