(USA TODAY IMAGES)
Cody Asche is in a strange predicament. Once dubbed the Philliesâ€™ “third baseman of the future”, the former fourth round pick from the University of Nebraska has done very little to solidify a starting spot, eventually being displaced by the younger and more powerful Maikel Franco. Franco, who only appeared in eighty games due to a wrist injury, had a stellar rookie campaign hitting .280/.343/.497 with 14 home runs and 50 RBIs. Compare that to Ascheâ€™s .245/.294/.395, 12 home runs and 39 RBIs and it becomes easier to see why a position change was in order. However, the move may be short-lived.
Only 25 years old, Asche is already the second oldest outfielder on the Philliesâ€™ 25 man roster. Although not old by any stretch of the imagination, younger and more high touted outfielders wait in the wings for Philadelphia. Nick Williams, acquired in the Cole Hamels deal, is ranked as the Philliesâ€™ #4 prospect(#55 Overall) on MLB.com. This ranking is well deserved as Williams posted a .303/.354/.491 slash line while adding 17 home runs and 55 RBIs in 119 games in Triple-A last season.
The Phillies also acquired Tyler Goeddel via the Rule 5 Draft. Goeddel, 23, had a productive 2015 as he drove in 72 runs, stealing 28 bases in the process. A converted 3rd baseman, he has the speed, range and athleticism to allow him to succeed at all three outfield positions, a skill set that Cody Asche does not possess. Asche is a below average defensive outfielder, posting a -1.3 WAR in 63 games as a left fielder during the 2015 campaign.
So what should the Phillies do with Cody Asche?
Asche is young, versatile and productive enough to stay at the Major League level so the solution comes down to two options.
The most likely of the two options, trading Asche would be a win-win for both parties. A trade would allow the Phillies to continue their rebuilding process by swapping Asche for a prospect with the ability to fill a more pressing need for Philadelphia(aka first base). This option relies heavily on Ascheâ€™s performance over the next few months so there is much left to be determined. Nevertheless, if traded, it would allow Asche to return to his natural third base position which, even though an average fielder, would be a welcome site for the 25-year-old if not only for comfortability. The change would also give Asche the opportunity to focus more on his plate approach and less on learning a new position.
Move Him To First
Speaking of moving to a new position…Option #2 would do just that. A move to first base, especially if Asche improves in 2016, would allow the Phillies to not only keep his team friendly contract(he will not reach free agency until 2020) but also fills the void at first base from within. Ryan Howard is presumably in his last season as a Phillie and Darren Ruf has been less than stellar during his tenure so a move to first base could make sense. Apparently, the Phillies agree as Asche has been spotted taking reps there during the early days of Spring Training:
Cody Asche working out at first base, increasing versatility pic.twitter.com/H5OtecgFcP
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) February 20, 2016
Cody Asche has a lot to prove entering his fourth season in the Majors but age is on his side. At 25, he is far from a lost cause and has the versatility, although somewhat limited, to stay in the lineup for an extended period of time. What he makes of that time, however, is up to him.
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