Meet the other Luis Garcia, the Phillies prospect to keep an eye on

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Phillies’ 2019 payroll, factoring in guaranteed contracts, arbitration raises and players making close to the minimum to figure out how much money the Phils would begin the offseason with.

The conclusion was basically that the Phillies would be at $88-90 million if they get rid of Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco, or just over $100 million if they keep both.

Over at MLB Trade Rumors, the great Matt Swartz has forecasted arbitration salaries for eight years in a row. If not spot-on, his predictions are typically very, very close to what the player actually receives.

Let’s go through the most notable projections to see who probably will and won’t be back:

2B Cesar Hernandez — $8.9 million

If you’re getting the Cesar Hernandez who hit .294 with a .372 OBP in 2016-17, maybe this is worth it. If you’re getting the Cesar who hit .253 with a .356 OBP, 155 strikeouts and a reluctance to steal bases last season, it’s not.

The Phillies have money invested in Scott Kingery, and although they like him at shortstop, it’s hard to believe that’s his long-term position.

Paying Hernandez nearly $9 million just doesn’t make much sense given all the Phillies’ other needs. The rising salary will also make a trade trickier.

RHP Aaron Nola — $6.6M

Obviously.

1B Justin Bour — $5.2M

This is an interesting case. Bour has value as a powerful bat off the bench. He succeeded in that role as a Phillie. But $5.2 million is too much to pay for a one-dimensional, part-time player.

The Phils will likely try to trade Bour. If they can’t, he’s a non-tender candidate.

3B Maikel Franco — $5.1M

Signing Franco and then trading him seems like the best route. Franco is coming off of his best full season in the majors but there are only so many starting jobs in the infield. If Rhys Hoskins moves back to first base, it will likely mean Carlos Santana plays third. Franco will be easier to move and could fetch more in a trade than Santana.

The Phils might be selling high, too.

RHP Vince Velasquez — $2.6M

Whether he’s back as a starter or reliever, this feels like an appropriate price for Velasquez. If he becomes an above-average bullpen arm, this would be a solid move. Even if he posts a 4.50 ERA in 30 starts, $2.6 million is about right.

RHP Hector Neris — $2.0M

Likely back after an impressive second half. The only National League pitcher with a higher strikeout rate than Neris in 2018 was Josh Hader.

RHP Luis Garcia — $1.7M

Too much money for a replaceable reliever.

RHP Jerad Eickhoff — $1.7M

With how hard it is to find starting pitching, bringing Eickhoff back at this number would be worthwhile. If he reverts to his 2016 form, the Phillies have a mid-rotation piece at a low cost.

OF Aaron Altherr — $1.6M

As with Eickhoff, it’s probably worth bringing Altherr back at this price. Altherr’s 2018 was rough but he hit .272 with 19 homers and an .856 OPS in 2017. If he gets even 70 percent back to that type of production, he’s a decent fourth outfielder.

Keep in mind, too, that if the Phils non-tender Altherr they’d still need to pay another outfielder something like $600K or $700K, so the difference in keeping Altherr could be less than $1 million. Worth it, given his skill set.

LHP Adam Morgan — $1.1M

Replaceable.

INF Pedro Florimon — $800,000

Replaceable for about $250,000 less.

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