The Philadelphia Phillies have seemingly parted ways with veteran first baseman Rhys Hoskins after they announced that Bryce Harper would move to first base permanently. Given that Hoskins is local to Northern California, there is an obvious connection to San Francisco, but is he a fit for the SF Giants?
Is a Northern California native a potential fit for the SF Giants in 2024?
Hoskins was drafted by the Phillies in the fifth round of the 2014 draft out of Sacramento State. He was born in Sacramento and attended Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California. Carmichael resides in Sacramento County.
So, when the Phillies announced that Harper would be taking over at first base, it signaled the likely end of Hoskins' 10-year run with the organization. From a geography standpoint, it makes sense that folks would connect the dots with Hoskins and San Francisco, but it would be a bit of an oblong fit.
I feel like oblong fit is a phrase I have used often when looking at position players in free agency and their potential fit with the Giants. The Giants do not have any glaring issues in the lineup, but also they have too many options at some positions. They do not have a true weakness and they do not have a true strength.
This is why it is hard to identify who might actually be a really good fit because it is just not so obvious this time around. Hoskins sustained an ACL tear at the end of spring training last year that kept him on the injured list for the entire season.
In some sense, Hoskins' foray into free agency feels oddly similar to Michael Conforto's trip through it last year after missing the entire 2022 season. More than likely, Hoskins is looking for a contract that gives him considerable guaranteed money and a chance to re-enter the market soon if he performs. That type of contract has been in the Giants' wheelhouse for better or worse in recent years.
On one hand, Hoskins has an offensive profile that the Giants could use. In six years with the Phillies, Hoskins slashed .242/.353/.492 (126 wRC+) with a 13.5 percent walk rate, 24.0 percent strikeout rate, and a .250 ISO. That is a strong combination of both on-base skills and power.
Hoskins' .250 ISO ranks 16th among hitters with at least 1,000 plate appearances since he debuted in 2017 and his 13.5 percent walk rate is 19th in that same time span. Perhaps, he is not an elite hitter when compared to Mookie Betts or Aaron Judge, but he is an above-average producer and would make just about every lineup in baseball better.
On the other hand, the Giants struggled in just about every meaningful offensive category in 2023. They tallied a 93 wRC+, 8.9 percent walk rate, 24.5 percent strikeout rate, and a .149 ISO. The 93 wRC+ was 21st in baseball, whereas the .149 ISO was 23rd in baseball.
The lineup needs help. They are not getting on base enough. They are not hitter for power. And, they are striking out too much. Hoskins would help address some of those concerns.
So, he would be an excellent fit, right? If they want to add a bat, then he is one of the better options available. That said, the six-year veteran came up as a left fielder but posted poor marks at that position, which led to a position change. He has not played in the outfield since 2018.
On the other hand, the Giants have two reliable options at first base with LaMonte Wade Jr. and Wilmer Flores. Wade Jr. serves more in a platoon role, but Flores has consistently produced as an everyday player. There is not necessarily a need at first base, so would the Giants sign Hoskins to be a DH?
That is where it gets complicated. The Giants also have a lot of outfielders, which could move Michael Conforto and Mitch Haniger into a timeshare at left field with the former getting some time off against left-handed pitching. Similar to Flores, Haniger has a track record of being relatively platoon-proof even if his numbers did not show it in 2023.
The Giants are seemingly going to use the DH as a way to give position players a day off from the field. It does not feel like they will have a roster spot dedicated to a DH like they did with Joc Pederson in 2023.
Perhaps, this is a minor detail, but Hoskins is a below-average runner. The Giants were one of the slowest teams last year and are aiming to get younger and more athletic in 2024. Adding Hoskins would run counter to that goal.
On paper, it is easy to see why the Giants could be connected to Hoskins, but there is not an obvious fit in San Francisco. Despite a potent bat, the Giants will likely look for other alternatives.