The Philadelphia Phillies’ signing of free agent Trea Turner takes one high-dollar shortstop off the market, but also opens up a bargain avenue for teams needing middle infield help: Edmundo Sosa.
Philadelphia’s commitment to Turner — 11 years for $300 million — resolves what had been Philadelphia’s shortstop problem. It also commits the Phillies to relocating 2022 shortstop Bryson Stott to second base, where he saw enough duty as a rookie to demonstrate his ability.
But that in turn leaves no visible playing time for Sosa, a 26-year-old acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals in a trade deadline deal.
For a team in need of a game-ready middle infielder but worried about the pricetag of a Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson or Xander Bogaerts, Edmundo Sosa is a fascinating alternative.
In three full major league seasons with the Cardinals and Phillies, Sosa has compiled a .253 average with a .321 on base percentage. In the modern baseball world, those are above-average numbers.
He slumped badly with St. Louis in 2022, but revived himself after moving to Philly, hitting .315 in 25 games.
His best season was 2021. Sosa hit .271 in 75 starts, with a positive Defensive Runs Saved score. Although his offense slumped in St. Louis in 2022, Sosa’s fielding remained a positive force.
Here’s the bonus: Sosa is likely to play for about $1 million in 2023, about $26 million less than Turner (or any of the other mega-reputation shortstops on the market) will earn. He won’t be arbitration-eligible until 2024, and won’t hit the free agent market until 2027 … by which time he’ll be 30.
Granted, acquiring Sosa involves taking a chance that he is ready to evolve into a legit full-time mid-infielder. Also granted, the Phillies don’t have to trade Sosa. But if they keep him, it’s either as a utility backup or as a competitor at second with Stott.
The latter approach could easily be read as a vote of no confidence in Stott, and that may not be the message you want to send to a youngster you’re counting on for a starting middle infield spot.
It’s also possible that the Phillies believe so much in Sosa that they don’t want to get rid of him. Fine: Then what do they want for Stott?
Different name, same dilemma for the Phillies. With Turner on board, they basically have to get rid of one of the two.
In many ways the two are similar. Stott is two years younger and produced a .653 OPS in 2022 that was nine percentage points higher than Sosa. They had almost identical WARS (1.4 for Sosa, 1.3 for Stott). At 83 percent, Stott had the better contact rate (get Sosa and you may be buying in to some swing-and-miss give his 68.6 percent contact rate in 2022).
Some team needing a middle infielder may find it at least worth the phone call to touch base with Phils GM Sam Fuld and find out about Sosa’s availability. It now makes sense that he won’t be in a Philadelphia uniform in April of 2023.