Though a trade never appeared close this offseason, various reports suggested that the Philadelphia Phillies were willing to listen to trade offers for 26-year-old second baseman Cesar Hernandez. Ultimately, Hernandez wasn't moved and it appears he will open the 2017 season as the team's starting second baseman.
Jim Salisbury of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia offered more insight on the trade candidacy of Hernandez in a recent article, suggesting general manager Matt Klentak had a high asking price on Hernandez:
Nothing seems imminent, but numerous baseball sources say the Phillies did put Hernandez in play this offseason -- at a very steep price.
While Hernandez may have seemed more attainable, the Phillies essentially did the same thing with Odubel Herrera. T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reported at the MLB Winter Meetings that there was a thought that the Phillies may be willing to trade Herrera. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer corroborated that and even suggested that the Phillies 'floated' Herrera on the trade market as far back as last summer. The Phillies ultimately kept Herrera and signed him to a five-year extension, one that both extended his time under team control and made him a more attractive trade piece.
It's true that Hernandez didn't get a good faith extension, but he's extendable for similar reasons: the Phillies are organizationally deep at second base and Hernandez has his flaws. Despite some of his mental flaws, Hernandez slashed .294/.371/.393 in 2016 and a strong second half allowed him to post a 4.4 WAR. If he's able to replicate a season like that and correct some of his flaws, he's going to be the team's long-term answer at second base.
As Salisbury pointed out in his piece, Hernandez is operating under quite a bit of pressure in 2017. Jesmuel Valentin and Scott Kingery are at the upper levels of the club's minor leagues and Freddy Galvis will also come into play at second base when J.P. Crawford eventually reaches the major league level. Howie Kendrick and Andres Blanco also can play second base, but the Phillies are unlikely to move a 26-year-old off of second base for two players that probably won't be in the organization a year from now.
If Hernandez doesn't seize the long-term starting second baseman position, he's unlikely to remain a Phillie. Galvis, because of his strong glove and position flexibility, is more likely to be a bench piece and Hernandez likely has a higher trade value around the league.