Three years into a seven-year/$144-million deal with the San Diego Padres, Eric Hosmer merely is not producing. With one year left before his no-trade clause ends, Hosmer needs to justify the remaining money on the contract soon for San Diego to keep him.
The San Diego Padres are suffering after some poor business decisions regarding money.
Over time, the signing of James Shields, the extension of Wil Myers, and the free-agent signing of Eric Hosmer all proved to be bad decisions for Padres’ general manager A.J. Preller. Not just bad ideas, but very costly ones at that.
Thankfully, the Padres were able to pull off some magic in trading Shields to the White Sox for a package of players, including Fernando Tatis Jr. The Myers’ extension is presently weighing down the team, though, as they continually attempt to rid themselves of the three-years and $67.5 million that is left in his deal. Currently, it looks like there will be no takers for Myers, and he is penciled in for a starting role in 2020 for the Padres when the season commences.
Then there is the financial anchor that is turning out to be the Eric Hosmer’ contract.
San Diego eagerly gave the first baseman a seven-year/$144-million deal before the 2018 season even though no other teams were in serious pursuit of the left-handed hitter. Scott Boras waved his magic wand prompting the Padres to sign Hosmer late in the winter. The organization praised his locker room presence and the fact he would balance out the mostly right-handed hitting lineup. The former Royal may have provided a left-handed hitting presence in the Padres’ lineup, but his production has been abysmal for a position that requires offense. The former All-Star owns a .728 OPS as a Padre and has produced 1.1 WAR for the team in two complete seasons. To put that into context, utility-man Greg Garcia recorded a 1.4 WAR total last year alone in a backup role for the Padres. Hosmer earned $42 million for his previous two years of service time. It is safe to say – he has not justified his paycheck.
But is all a lost cause for Hosmer?
With a no-trade contract intact, the first baseman is not going anywhere this 2020 season. The clause does end after the year, but for now, the Padres are invested into the former first-round pick. He will play every day, and it looks as though he will bat in the middle of the lineup when MLB begins to play again. If the Padres plan on succeeding in 2020, Hosmer will be a crucial reason for their advancement, especially if we are talking about a season that will be shortened to some degree.
Early in spring, Hosmer worked relentlessly hard with new Padres’ coach Bobby Dickerson. The fact Hosmer invested time to get “drilled” by the new coach is characteristic of the type of effort the first baseman puts towards the game. The veteran coach is known for getting results from infielders, and signs were positive early in camp that Dickerson will improve the Padres’ infield defense in 2020.
Eric Hosmer’s defense is not the primary concern for the Padres moving forward. His lack of production with the bat and the $81 million and five years left on his deal after 2020 that is an issue for a small market team like San Diego. The lefty will make $21 million in 2021 and 2022. After those two seasons, Hosmer and his representatives can opt-out of the remaining three years in his deal. If Hosmer chooses to keep his contract in place, he makes $13 million for three seasons (2023-2025). The possibility of earning $39 million for three years and until the age of 35 could be enticing to Hosmer.
In the meantime, the Padres may eventually succumb to the temptation of moving Hosmer after the 2020 season when his no-trade clause expires. Preller and the Padres are blessed with several high profile prospects and can easily pay down the price of moving the costly first baseman when push comes to shove. Preller will explore all options to improve the team and cannot continue to get subpar production from a position that traditionally brings offensive firepower with it.
Josh Naylor, at the age of 22, is currently playing outfield for the Padres but is a natural first baseman. The Canadian left-handed hitter is aggressive with his approach at the plate and brings plenty of power potential to the team. Naylor could very well be an option for the Padres eventually, or they could explore a trade elsewhere. As for Hosmer, the 2020 season will be tremendous in determining his future with the team. There may still be time for him to salvage his value, but there is a long road ahead for Eric Hosmer.