A 22-home run season doesn't mean what it used to.
Former Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph, who hit 21 homers in 2016 and 22 in 2017, has agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal to play in Korea, according to Jeff Passan.
This just isn't the era for a major-leaguer whose lone defining skill is power, especially if first base is the only position you can play. It seems like everyone has power these days. There were exactly 100 players with 20+ home runs this past season. Just five years ago, in 2013, there were 70.
Joseph spent last season in the Texas Rangers organization after they selected him off waivers on March 19. In 357 plate appearances with Triple A Round Rock, he hit .284 with 21 homers and an .884 OPS.
This is a logical move for Joseph to go overseas where he can make more of an impact. Look no further than former Phillies first baseman Darin Ruf, who has excelled the last two seasons in the same league (KBO).
In those two seasons, Ruf has hit .322/.412/.587 with 64 homers and 249 RBI.
It's a good opportunity for Joseph to go make some money (more than he'd make if he stayed in the states), hit some longballs and perhaps reestablish his value to potentially return to the majors someday. Even if he doesn't, plenty of former big-leaguers have found money and comfort playing in Asia.
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More on the Phillies
It's been a busy few days in the ex-Phillie roster moves department.
Cameron Rupp and Andres Blanco both signed minor-league deals, Rupp with the Rangers and Blanco with the Brewers.
Rupp was a free agent after being released by the Phils on March 26. It wasn't surprising that he found a new team just a week later because of how few quality backup catchers there are leaguewide. At the very least, a team knows Rupp can provide some power off the bench.
Rupp was the odd man out among Phillies' catchers and his poor spring did not help. He went 7 for 37 (.189) with 15 strikeouts and was designated for assignment as camp came to a close.
In just over 1,000 career at-bats in the majors, Rupp has hit .234/.298/.407. He's hit 14 and 16 home runs the last two seasons.
Blanco was released by the Giants on March 23. Last season, his fourth with the Phillies, was a struggle. Blanco hit .192 with a .549 OPS after hitting .274 with a .795 OPS the previous three years. He turns 34 on April 11.
Elsewhere, Vance Worley reportedly opted out of his minor-league contract with the Reds and is now a free agent. Late last week, the Rangers designated Tommy Joseph for assignment and he accepted it. He'll play with Double A Frisco, while his former teammate Rupp will be at Triple A Round Rock in the same system.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Tommy Joseph is headed to the American League. The Texas Rangers claimed him off waivers on Monday. The Arizona native will head to his home state to join the Rangers for the remainder of spring training.
The Phillies designated Joseph for assignment last week. The move was made to clear room for pitcher Jake Arrieta on the 40-man roster.
Joseph, 26, joined the Phillies organization in the summer of 2012 in the trade that sent Hunter Pence to San Francisco. At the time, Joseph was a catcher. A series of concussions nearly ended his career, but he converted to first base and forged his way to the majors in May 2016. He hit 43 home runs the last two seasons, but did not reach base enough to satisfy a front office that wants to build a lineup around players with that skill. The emergence of Rhys Hoskins last season and the signing of free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana this winter made Joseph expendable and efforts to trade him were fruitless.
Joseph’s power makes him a potential fit for a role as a designated hitter. He could also see some time at first base, with Joey Gallo owning a .199 career batting average against lefties.
Joseph is now on the Rangers’ 40-man roster.