Chicago Cubs should check in on free agent Cesar Hernandez

The Philadelphia Phillies non-tendered second baseman Cesar Hernandez on Monday. The Chicago Cubs may want to check in on him.

The Philadelphia Phillies moved on from both third baseman Maikel Franco and second baseman Cesar Hernandez ahead of Monday’s non-tender deadline. The Chicago Cubs likely won’t be interested in Franco, but Hernandez is an intriguing player. Would he be a fit for the Cubs?

The Phillies’ decision to let Hernandez go was mainly a cost-cutting move, as he was projected to make $11.8 million via arbitration according to MLB Trade Rumors. The 29-year-old Hernandez is coming off another nice season, as he played in 161 games and set a career-high in hits (171), doubles (31) and RBI (71), while posting a 0.9 defensive WAR.

The first question we need to ask is whether the Cubs will be looking for a second baseman this offseason. It largely depends on whether the team thinks that Nico Hoerner is ready to take over or whether another internal option such as David Bote would work. Given the fact we don’t know whether Hoerner is ready to play full-time at the major league level, the Cubs would be wise to bring in a veteran in case he needs some more seasoning at Iowa to open 2020.

Hernandez would fit the bill. Among free agent second basemen according to MLB.com, only Eric Sogard posted a higher WAR in 2019 than Hernandez’s 2.5. Indeed, the former Phillie has at least reached that mark in three of the past four seasons. Another potential second base option, Jonathan Villar, came off the board on Monday when the Miami Marlins traded for him from the Baltimore Orioles.

One concern about Hernandez may be that he was less patient at the plate in 2019. After drawing 95 walks in 2018, that number went down to just 45 in 2019 (though strikeouts also went down from 155 to 100). He also doesn’t rate well according to several of the defensive metrics, including range and zone factors.

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Still, if the Chicago Cubs are interested in Hernandez, they won’t be the only team that will check in on him. Though he likely won’t sign for the estimated $11.8 million the Phillies would have owed him, he’ll catch on with a team for a decent sum in 2020 and may even get a multi-year deal.

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