The Rangers have claimed first baseman Tommy Joseph on waivers from the Phillies, per a club announcement Monday. Joseph had been designated for assignment by the Phillies last week — a move that wasn’t exactly a shock considering that they now have Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins as options at first base.
Joseph, 26, is a .247/.297/.460 career hitter over 880 big-league plate appearances spread across two seasons. His strongest skill has always been his power, and though his production should be taken relatively lightly considering that he played his home games in Citizens Bank Park, he did hit 21 home runs as a rookie in 2016 and then 22 homers last year. He was one of many first basemen who saw their value decrease as countless players across baseball suddenly became fearsome power hitters during last year’s home run revolution.
It’s unclear how much of an opportunity Joseph will get in Texas, as the Rangers already have Joey Gallo at first base and Shin-Soo Choo at DH. But adding an extra source of power is never a bad thing, and the Rangers could use another slugger after allowing Mike Napoli — who hit 29 homers in 2017 — to walk in free agency.
The Phillies briefly experimented with using Joseph — who stands 6-foot-1 and 255 pounds — in the outfield this spring, though that project is unlikely to continue in the Rangers organization. For what it’s worth, though, Gallo has played 38 major-league games and 23 minor-league games in the outfield, so if the Rangers are looking for a creative way to plug their gaping hole in left field, they could consider putting Gallo in left and playing Joseph at first. They’re currently planning to utilize a platoon of Drew Robinson and Ryan Rua in left, though highly-touted prospect Willie Calhoun could take over that position as the season moves along.
Joseph has one minor-league option remaining, so even if he doesn’t crack the Rangers’ Opening Day roster, he’ll serve as an intruguing depth piece at first base and DH.
To make room for Joseph on Texas’ 40-man roster, right-hander Clayton Blackburn was moved to the 60-day disabled list.