Phillies

Rhys Hoskins — there's nothing he can't do — leads Phillies' home run barrage

Rhys Hoskins — there's nothing he can't do — leads Phillies' home run barrage

BOX SCORE

Rhys Hoskins makes the best cheesesteak in town. He can run the Rocky steps in three seconds flat then knock out 50 push-ups at the top. One-handed. He can bench press the Liberty Bell, dunk on Joel Embiid and part traffic on the Schuylkill with a simple wave of his hand.

He is the most interesting man in Philadelphia. There is nothing he can't do.

And, on Thursday night, he became the first player in baseball history to be asked for his autograph in the dugout ... by a teammate ... during the game.

"He's creating history," said Cameron Perkins, who approached Hoskins with a ball in the dugout and requested an autograph after the rookie slugger belted his nightly homer in the Phillies' 10-0 demolition of the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park (see observations).

"What he's doing is ridiculous. It's fun to watch. It's still underappreciated. I don't think everybody understands how hard it is to do that over and over again."

Hoskins has been with the Phillies since Aug. 10 for a total of 34 games and 118 at-bats. He has 18 home runs, which is just three shy of the team lead held by Tommy Joseph. With 16 games left, he stands an excellent chance of leading the club in home runs — remarkable considering he did not hit his first home run until Aug. 14.

He hit four of them in the Phillies' three-game sweep of the Marlins. The Phillies won the first game in 15 innings then outscored the Marlins, 18-1, over the next two games.

Hoskins is now rivaling Carson Wentz as the hottest autograph in town, so hot that his teammates playfully ask for them in the dugout.

"It's fun," Hoskins said. "I don't think hitting a home run is ever not going to be fun — for everyone. When someone hits a home run, it gives the team a little jolt, a little spark of energy and obviously the long ball was good to us tonight."

Indeed, the Phillies hit four of them — three against Miami's Vance Worley in the second inning.

Jorge Alfaro hit a rising line drive into the second deck in left (459 feet) and Freddy Galvis hit one 414 feet to left-center before Hoskins smacked a two-run shot, his first to the opposite field (see video).

"That was fun," manager Pete Mackanin said of the entire night. "Alfaro hit that bomb, Freddy hit a two-run dinger and Hoskins hit another blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."

Clearly, Mackanin is running out of words to describe Hoskins' home run frenzy, which started with 29 in 115 games at Triple A Lehigh Valley.

But Perkins, a teammate of Hoskins in the minors and now in the majors, is not running out of words.

"I know you guys are new to this because he hasn't been up here, but I've been playing with him all year and this is the exact same thing as spring training and Lehigh Valley," Perkins said. "He's so good at putting quality at-bats together even when he gets out or strikes out. He sees a bunch of pitches or he'll walk. He's a very special hitter. He makes it look easy. Sometimes it can be frustrating to watch him because it's hit, hit, hit, hit. It's so hard and he makes it look so easy. He's a very good, very smart hitter."

Perkins came off the bench and hit the Phillies' fourth home run as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. His first big-league homer came against Miami lefty Justin Nicolino and he received a celebratory water-cooler dousing after the game.

"That was pretty cool," Hoskins said. "He put a good swing on it. I heard a couple of guys say they thought he was going to do it on that at-bat. The couple years I played with him he has hit lefties pretty well, so that was a special moment. I'm happy for him. It's something that he’ll always remember."

Perkins confirmed that.

"It's the moment I've been waiting for my entire life," said Perkins, a rookie who will turn 27 later this month. "Everyone wants the dream of having the cooler dumped on them, even though it wasn't as significant as I'd hope in a 9-0 game. But I'll still take it. Everyone dreams of hitting that walk-off home run. But getting the cooler dumped on you and finally getting one is definitely a dream come true."

Perkins will work on getting the ball as a souvenir.

He has a plan.

"If I have to bargain, I'll get Rhys to sign some balls," he said. "I'm sure the person who caught my home run ball would love Rhys' autograph. I'm going to need some of those."

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Let the record show that on a snowy Friday afternoon 10 days before Christmas 2017, the Phillies ramped up their rebuild.

Dramatically.

What other conclusion can be drawn after the club went out and signed Carlos Santana, one of the best offensive players on the free-agent market? With the signing, confirmed by multiple baseball sources, general manager Matt Klentak has attached a new level of importance to the 2018 season.

Just a couple of days ago at the winter meetings in Orlando, Klentak spoke of how 2018 was going to be a time to "find out" more about the team's young core of players. Who would continue to take a step forward? Who would fall by the wayside?

But now that Santana is here, 2018 doesn't feel like it's just a find-out season. It feels like a season in which the Phillies can continue to find out about players — separate the studs from the duds — and also start nibbling around that second National League wild-card spot.

Sure, a lot has to go right for that to happen.

And one of the things that has to go right is Klentak has to land a starting pitcher to slot in around Aaron Nola and the rest of the staff, which has the look of a bunch of No. 4 and No. 5 starters — until someone steps forward.

Santana's deal is for three years and $60 million, according to sources. Three years is a nice get — i.e., it's not cripplingly long — for a 32-year-old (in April) who hits for power, produces runs and does what Klentak likes best: controls the strike zone. (You could say that Klentak added two players who control the strike zone to his lineup Friday as the trade of Freddy Galvis to San Diego for strike-throwing pitching prospect Enyel De Los Santos cleared the way for J.P. Crawford to be the regular shortstop.)

The Phillies need to do everything within reason to make sure that the first of Santana's three seasons with the club isn't about simply inching the rebuild forward. The Nationals are the class of the NL East, but the rest of the division ranges from ordinary to awful. The Phils, with an improved offense and bullpen (Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter), can play with the Braves and Mets and clean up on the Marlins, the jewelry store that became a pawnshop, in agent Scott Boras' words.

It's just up to Klentak to get more starting pitching, and he's on the case. He admitted that at the winter meetings. He is particularly fond of young starters with years of control remaining on their contracts. Gerrit Cole, Chris Archer and Michael Fulmer fit this description. It takes talent to get pitchers like that. The Phillies have enough depth of prospects to get one of these guys and their reserves of expendable talent just grew with the Santana signing.

Santana, a switch-hitter who has averaged 25 homers, 85 RBIs and a .810 OPS in eight seasons, is going to be the team's primary first baseman. Rhys Hoskins is going to be the primary leftfielder. That means the Phillies suddenly have a young outfielder that they could deal. Maybe they try to capitalize on Nick Williams' strong half-season in the majors and package him for an arm. Or maybe it's Odubel Herrera or Aaron Altherr.

However it plays out, you can be sure that Klentak will be creative. You can rule nothing out with this guy. The other day, we poo-pooed the Phillies signing Jake Arrieta, who is looking for a long-term deal approaching $200 million. But if Arrieta lingers out there until February and is looking for a two-year landing spot, hey, maybe.

We wouldn't even put it past Klentak to entertain the idea of using Santana at third base a little bit — he did play 26 games there in 2014 — and trading Maikel Franco. The Giants were sniffing around, gathering intel on Franco at the winter meetings. There has to be a reason for that. Also at the meetings, an official from a rival club said the Phillies weren't as aggressive as he expected in trying to move Cesar Hernandez. Could it be that Hernandez would get some time at third if Franco were to be moved? Hernandez is still a trade chip, but he doesn't need to be cashed in until July and by that time Scott Kingery should be here.

There are a lot of ways this thing can go. And with the signing of Carlos Santana — which won't become official until he passes a physical next week — the Phillies have guaranteed that the remainder of this offseason will be a busy one.

It has to be.

The stakes have changed for 2018. The rebuild is still in place, but it has been ramped up. Matt Klentak has improved the bullpen and the offense. Now he has to attack that starting pitching and he has the trade weapons to do it.

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

The Phillies' busy Friday continued with a pricey free-agent signing.

The Phils have agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with former Cleveland Indian Carlos Santana, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.

It is by far the most expensive contract the Phillies have given out under the Matt Klentak-Andy MacPhail regime.

They had the money. When the offseason began, the only player the Phillies had signed to a multi-million dollar deal was Odubel Herrera.

Santana, 31, has always been a high-walk power hitter. From 2011 through 2017, he walked between 88 and 113 times each season, all while maintaining relatively low strikeout totals for a man with such power and plate selection.

In 2016, Santana set a career high with 34 home runs. Last season, he hit .259/.363/.455 with 37 doubles, 23 homers and 79 RBIs.

This addition provides the Phillies with much-needed pop to protect Rhys Hoskins and also gives the Phils added versatility. Santana is a switch-hitter who came up as a catcher, but he hasn't caught since 2014. The last three seasons, he has played primarily first base. In his eight seasons, Santana has also started 26 games at third base and seven in right field.

The move likely means Hoskins will play left field, and it could facilitate another Phillies trade of an outfielder such as Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr or Odubel Herrera.