PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler contacted Rhys Hoskins last week before the Phillies and Carlos Santana finalized a three-year, $60 million contract.Kapler wanted to know how Hoskins felt about playing left field on a more permanent basis.
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler contacted Rhys Hoskins last week before the Phillies and Carlos Santana finalized a three-year, $60 million contract.
Kapler wanted to know how Hoskins felt about playing left field on a more permanent basis.
Hoskins, who has spent most of his career at first base, responded enthusiastically, according to Kapler and Phillies general manager Matt Klentak. It sounded similar to a conversation former Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. had with Roy Halladay before the Phillies re-signed Cliff Lee in December 2010. Amaro wanted to know if Halladay was OK with Lee signing a considerably larger contract than him. Halladay said he couldn't care less. He wanted to win.
"Rhys' reaction when Kap talked to him last week was, 'I will do whatever it takes to help this team,"' Klentak said after Santana's introductory news conference Wednesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. "'I'm comfortable in left, I'm comfortable at first, wherever you think I can help this team best I'm willing to do it. If we can add a player that can help us get better I'm all in.'
"It was the answer of a consummate leader. That was incredibly helpful to me in kind of pushing me over the hump to take this step."
OK, but how will it work?
Santana is a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman. He will spend most of his time there, although he could play in the outfield. He hit everywhere from first to sixth with the Indians last season. Expect him to hit atop the Phillies order.
Cesar Hernandez, Santana, Odubel Herrera and Hoskins in the first four spots makes a lot of sense.
"In the two-hole, I think it's a really important spot in the lineup, gets on base, comes up with men on base quite frequently," Kapler said. "Carlos can handle the two-hole. We know that he can slug and hit for power, so the three-hole might be a good spot for him too. So who knows? He can hit anywhere in the lineup and that's part of what makes him especially attractive is, we can mix and match and move him around."
But what happens to Herrera, Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams? Players are going to lose plate appearances, although the Phillies believe if they bring everybody into Spring Training (an outfielder could be traded to acquire a starting pitcher) they can find enough playing time to keep everybody happy.
Kapler said he reached out to those players, too.
"Quite simply, all of those guys were incredibly receptive," he said. "They're excited, right? [Santana] makes us immediately better. Go back and look at the last couple of years; 600 plate appearances, 600 plate appearances, 600 plate appearances. That's unusual. A guy who walks about as much as he strikes out. That's incredibly unusual.
"Here's a guy [Santana] who cut his strikeout rate the last couple years. That's unusual for a guy in this stage of his career. You go and tell Rhys Hoskins and Odubel and these guys that we're getting [Santana] to put in our lineup and is going to play consistently for their club. Yeah, of course they're going to look into the mirror and say, 'What does this mean for me?' But they have no choice but to be excited about this."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.