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Phillies non-tender Hernández, Franco

December 2, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- It is the end of an era for longtime Phillies second baseman César Hernández and third baseman Maikel Franco. The Phillies cut ties with both players on Monday. The Phillies declined to offer either player a contract before the Monday deadline for players eligible for salary arbitration, making

PHILADELPHIA -- It is the end of an era for longtime Phillies second baseman César Hernández and third baseman Maikel Franco. The Phillies cut ties with both players on Monday.

The Phillies declined to offer either player a contract before the Monday deadline for players eligible for salary arbitration, making them free agents. The Phillies and catcher Andrew Knapp agreed to a one-year, $710,000 contract to avoid arbitration. The Phillies also offered contracts to right-handers Zach Eflin, Héctor Neris and Vince Velasquez; left-hander José Álvarez and Adam Morgan; and catcher J.T. Realmuto, making them signed players for 2020.

The Phillies hope to sign Realmuto to a multiyear extension.

These players just joined free-agent pool

It surprised nobody that the Phillies non-tendered Franco. Franco, 27, slashed .247/.299/.427 with an 89 OPS+ the past four seasons, according to Baseball Reference. Hernández, 29, had always been held in high regard by the Phillies’ front office because of his on-base skills, but he slashed .266/.345/.385 with a 93 OPS+ the past two seasons. He had been projected to make more than $11 million next season. It made sense for the Phillies to invest that money elsewhere. They need pitching and at least one more big bat for the lineup.

The Phillies’ infield will look much different in 2020 without Hernández and Franco. Hernández played 832 career games with the Phillies, which ranks 52nd on the franchise’s all-time list. Franco had been a highly touted prospect but never has hit consistently in the big leagues.

MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported recently that the Phillies are interested in free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius. If the Phillies sign Gregorius, they could have some combination of Jean Segura and Scott Kingery at second and third. Or the Phillies could sign a free-agent third baseman, such as Anthony Rendon or Josh Donaldson, and play Kingery at second or center field.

The Phillies expressed interest in Mike Moustakas, but he agreed to a four-year contract Monday with Cincinnati. Because of Kingery’s versatility, the Phillies have options to improve the lineup, even if they don’t sign Gregorius.

Knapp, 28, slashed .213/.318/.324 in 160 plate appearances last season. He had a .518 OPS in 81 plate appearances before the All-Star break and a .760 OPS in 79 plate appearances after the break.