Jue. Feb 29th, 2024

First baseman Rhys Hoskins and the Milwaukee Brewers are finalizing a two-year, $34 million contract with an opt-out after the first season, sources told ESPN on Tuesday, filling a significant hole in the reigning National League Central champions’ lineup with a veteran power bat.

Hoskins, who will turn 31 in March, spent the entire 2023 season on the injured list for the Philadelphia Phillies after tearing the ACL in his left knee during spring training. In his six previous years, Hoskins had been a consistent presence in the middle of Philadelphia’s lineup, averaging 30 home runs in his four full seasons and posting a career OPS 25% above league average.

The Phillies’ decision to move Bryce Harper to first base on a permanent basis prompted Hoskins to move on from Philadelphia, which selected him in the fifth round of the 2014 draft. Hoskins, who finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2017, hit .246/.332/.462 with 30 home runs during Philadelphia’s run to the 2022 World Series.

After blowing out his knee while moving backward to field a ground ball during spring training last year, Hoskins was on the cusp of returning to the Phillies in the postseason but was not on their roster during the NL Championship Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He hit free agency looking for a deal to rebuild his value before jumping into the open market again — and the opt-out will allow him to do so.

During his limited time playing as a visitor in Milwaukee, Hoskins has feasted at Miller Park, slashing .342/.405/.790 with five home runs and eight RBIs in nine games.

With the Brewers, he joins a team hungry for runs. Milwaukee’s only offensive addition via free agency this winter had been backup catcher Eric Haase. Milwaukee also will add center fielder Jackson Chourio, arguably the top prospect in baseball, after signing him to an eight-year, $82 million contract before his major league debut. And with a full season of rookie Sal Frelick, the potential promotion of third baseman Tyler Black and the return of William Contreras, Christian Yelich and Willy Adames, the Brewers could have an offense to match their stellar pitching.

Milwaukee won the NL Central last year and made the postseason for the fifth time in six years but was swept in the wild-card round by the D-backs. The Brewers were 17th in baseball with 728 runs scored but had a .385 slugging percentage that ranked 25th.

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