Who will play third base for the Phillies next season?
This will be one of the biggest questions facing team management this offseason.
The club had hoped Alec Bohm would lock down the position this season, but he struggled offensively and defensively in 111 games in the majors and is currently playing at Triple A.
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Bohm is just 25 and still loaded with promise. He could end up right back at third base in April, but it’s no slam dunk, not with the possibility of the designated hitter coming to the National League. If that happens, Rhys Hoskins could get time in that role and Bohm could play first base.
Didi Gregorius, who has not played good defense at shortstop this season and remains signed through 2022, could be a possibility to move over to third.
And while we’re talking about third-base possibilities, it would be silly to rule out a trade or free-agent signing, especially with an executive as proactive as Dave Dombrowski running the show and a player like Kris Bryant hitting the free-agent market. Bryant is represented by Scott Boras, who has a good relationship with Phillies ownership. Boras represents a number of Phillies, including Bohm, Hoskins and Bryce Harper, a lifelong friend of Bryant.
Boras also represents another player who could be a possibility at third base -- at least at some point next season.
Bryson Stott, the Phillies’ first-round pick in the 2019 draft and a shortstop by trade, played five games at third base over the final weeks of the Double A season.
Stott was at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night to receive the Paul Owens award as the Phillies’ top minor-league position player for 2021. He played some second base early in the season at High A Jersey Shore but stayed mostly at shortstop when he moved to Double A on June 1. He did not play his first game at third base until August 21, which coincided with Bohm’s demotion to Triple A.
“Shawn Williams (the Reading manager) said they want to see you over there,” Stott said. “I took ground balls for a few days. He said, ‘You’re an infielder, you’ll do fine.’ The games were fine. The angles are different, but I felt comfortable.”
Stott revealed that he will play in the Arizona Fall League, which commences on October 13. He said he could see himself getting time at shortstop, second base and third base.
“The more positions you play the better your chances are,” he said. “To be able to play all three infield positions is big. I enjoy moving around. I’ll do whatever I can to get here.”
Stott will turn 24 on October 6. The playbook would suggest a stop in Triple A next season, but he believes he can get to Philadelphia in 2022. He will dictate his itinerary with his play, be it at shortstop, second base or third base.
“Keep swinging and playing defense,” he said. “You’ve got to hit and play defense to move. You’ve got to earn it.”
Stott earned the Owens award by hitting .299 with 15 homers, 46 RBIs and an .879 OPS in 102 minor-league games this season. He hit .301 with 10 homers, 36 RBIs and an .848 OPS in 80 games at Double A.
In addition to Stott, the Phillies honored right-hander Jean Cabrera with the Owens award as top minor-league pitcher for 2021.
The 19-year-old Cabrera, a native of Venezuela, went 3-1 with a 1.37 ERA in 11 starts in his first professional season. He posted a 0.85 WHIP while holding opponents to a .196 batting average.
Cabrera traveled to Philadelphia on Sunday. It was his first time in the United States. He capped off his visit Monday by meeting his pitching idol, Zack Wheeler.
“I’m not just saying this because he’s on this team,” Cabrera said through Diego Ettedgui, the team’s Spanish-language translator. “Wheeler was my favorite player even when he pitched for the Mets.”
Wheeler was just a few feet away in the dugout as Cabrera spoke and the two were able to meet, chat for a few minutes and pose for a picture.