All eyes will be on Padres’ Eric Hosmer as season concludes

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Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2021 season comes to a close, all eyes are on Eric Hosmer regarding his future with the San Diego Padres. 

There is no doubt that the signing of Eric Hosmer is controversial among San Diego Padres fans.

During the 2020 season, Hosmer corrected his launch angle and produced a .851 OPS in 31 games. With production like that, the thought crept over San Diego that the left-handed hitter could indeed be an offensive force at the first base position. As the 2021 season enters the last month of the season, Hosmer presently owns an OPS of .723 and has recorded an all-time low slugging percentage of .386 in 121 games. There are moments for Hosmer with the bat and the glove, but they are few and far between. The reality of the situation cannot be ignored any longer.

The Padres and A.J. Preller finally seem concerned with Hosmer’s production, as rumors swirled in late July of a potential trade.

The news probably did not sit well in the clubhouse, and there are some indications that Scott Boras (Hosmer’s representation) did not appreciate the rumors as well. Hosmer owns a partial no-trade clause but does not have full control of his destiny until after the 2022 season, when his service time enters 10 total years and five years with the same time. At that point. These 10/5 rights give Hosmer and his representatives full control of where he plays.

It may not be a coincidence that the team’s play has taken a hit since these rumors surfaced in July. Hosmer is one of the leaders of the team, and hearing his name in trade rumors probably seemed excessive to a Padres team that was almost assured (at the time) a playoff berth in 2021. Preller explores all options, but potentially trading a star in the middle of a season is difficult to do. The dynamics are complicated.

If the Padres wish to make a move from Hosmer, this winter is probably the best time.

The veteran first baseman signed an eight-year/$144 million contract in February of 2018. At the time, it was the richest contract in San Diego Padres history, and it ushered in a new era of baseball in America’s Finest City. The Padres paid a hefty price tag for an All-Star caliber player in their prime for the first time ever. Or at least they thought that’s what they were getting in the first baseman.

Hosmer was 27 and coming off a year with the Royals, where he put up a .318/.385/.498 slash line in 162 games. The .882 OPS was the highest output in his career, and it came at the perfect time for Hosmer. The first baseman won his fourth Gold Glove after the 2017 season, and his value was arguably the highest it would ever be heading into free agency. For Eric Hosmer, the timing of his age and productive year proved to be beneficial. The Padres paid the hefty price, despite the fact there were very few suitors for the first baseman as Spring Training started in 2018.

Scott Boras did well for Hosmer as he was paid “fair market” value.

So what kind of value does the soon-to-be 32-year-old veteran possess? His time in San Diego has not gone well. That is clear. Hosmer owns a career .737 OPS in over 475 games for the Friars. The left-handed hitter owns a 2.6 WAR in four seasons and a 101 OPS+ as a Padre. You can speak about the leadership in the locker room all you want, but production with the bat is needed, especially at a traditionally offense-heavy position like first base.

For the Padres, Hosmer is owed $60-million for the next four seasons. He may opt-out after the 2022 season, but it is hard to imagine Hosmer (on the open market) getting better than the $39-million and three years that would be left on his current contract. His representatives would really be gambling if they were to elect free agency after the 2022 season.

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At an average value of $15 million per season, his current contract is not overly exuberant. The Padres should not have a horrible time finding a suitor if they try hard enough. The question is how much money the Padres may need to kick in to finish off a potential deal or what prospects they would need to include to satisfy the Hosmer’s contract burden? It seems that is where the roadblock occurred early this season as the Padres worked all angles during the trade deadline.

There are options for the Padres as the farm system is starting to show some depth. In 2021, players like Euribiel Angeles, Brandon Valenzuela, and Ethan Elliott have all risen the prospect rankings from once being considered “fringe-type” prospects not worthy of a top-30 ranking.

For Eric Hosmer, the rest of the 2021 season will be a chance for him to prove his worth to his general manager. Preller and his staff are creative. If the GM discovers a way to improve the team, all angles will be explored. That means, even Eric Hosmer is not safe to be moved. Stay tuned, Padres fans. The winter could get very interesting in San Diego.

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