Padres players defend Eric Hosmer amid trade rumors

Padres Eric Hosmer

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

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Padres Eric Hosmer
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After the trade proposal with the New York Mets fell through, several Padres players stepped forward with their support for teammate Eric Hosmer.

In February 2018, the San Diego Padres signed free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer to the most generous contract in the team’s history (up to that point) at $144 million for eight years. The year before, Hosmer had a batting line of .269/.337/.395 and a 4.0WAR with the Kansas City Royals. He also brought his four (dubious) Gold Gloves to San Diego.

Just two years into the contract, Padres general manager A.J. Preller switched gears and started shopping Hosmer and his contract. The trade rumors heated up this offseason, and the league shutdown further exacerbated the problem.

Apparently, his teammates have tired of the rumors, and several have spoken out to reporters for the San Diego Union-Tribune and The Athletic and adamantly defended their teammate.

“I know there’s a lot of bad talk about him within the fan base and people seeming to kind of give up on him and stuff, but the impact he has on the team, in the clubhouse, who is as a leader, the way that he kind of is the glue that brings everyone together in the clubhouse, is something you can’t really measure with stats or a computer,” starting pitcher Joe Musgrove declared. “It’s something only the guys in the room will know.”

Reliever Craig Stammen, a veteran of 12 years in the major leagues said, “I’m praying that he does not get traded. It’s hard for me to put into words how big of an impact he has had on myself as a teammate and the rest of the guys. I care about and respect him almost more than any other baseball players I have ever played with.”

When asked about Hosmer, Wil Myers praised the man who replaced him at first base, “It sounds as if he’s going to stay with us, which is great. I think everybody in the clubhouse is excited about that. A great presence in there.”

Jake Cronenworth also extolled Hosmer’s virtues as a mentor to younger players: “Probably the best teammate I’ve ever had. Being a young kid coming up to the big leagues, he took me under his wings and showed me the ropes. He’s been an incredible friend, teammate. It’s almost indescribable.”

The Padres have to weigh this vociferous (and quite unusual) defense of Hosmer by his teammates against his play on the field. Offensively he’s not matched his performance with the Kansas City Royals—seven years, .284/.342.439.781, OPS+ 111—in San Diego—four years, .264/.323/.415/.738 OPS+102.

However, a larger issue lies in Hosmer’s defense. Granted, he’s won four Gold Gloves, including one the year before he signed with San Diego. But, a deeper dive into his defensive abilities reveals a different picture. The year he won his fourth Gold Glove and signed with the Padres, his DRS (defensive runs saved) were subpar at -7. According to FanGraphs advanced defensive stats, he ranked 17th of first basemen with -14.4 Def, .2.0 UZR/150.

Last year, his UZR fell to -5.1, WAR to 0.0, and Value in dollars of -$0.0. And he’s not getting younger. At 32, he’s on the wrong side of the performance curve but will still take home $20 million this year and $13 million a year through 2025.

Although Preller has emphasized that Hosmer is the team’s first baseman, he’s continued to shop him. Last summer’s trade rumors included the Texas Rangers and the Chicago Cubs. This month, talks with the New York Mets came to naught partly because Hosmer’s salary would land the team in luxury tax territory. The Mets were rumored to receive Hosmer, Chris Paddack, Emilio Pagan, and $30 million for one player—first baseman Dominic Smith.

Recently Hosmer and Preller got together to discuss the situation, and they also met last July. Neither would comment on their conversations, but Preller undoubtedly tried to clear the air with his player. Hosmer has reacted to the situation by emphasizing, “You know I’m human, just like you guys.”

The team’s collapse last season exacerbated the situation with Hosmer, and Trent Grisham bemoaned the “negative vibes” in the clubhouse. However, last year’s manager, Jayce Tingler, did not have the years of experience that Bob Melvin brings to the job.

About Hosmer, Melvin recently told local media that he is “all about winning…Obviously, it’s a huge personality in the room, and he gets a ton of respect from our guys, and he will be treated that way.”

10 thoughts on “Padres players defend Eric Hosmer amid trade rumors

  1. I will admit there have been times I’ve been on the fence regarding Hosmer. It’s not his fault Preller bid against himself and way overpaid for Hosmer. We’d all take the big paycheck if offered. However, Hosmer can be blamed for not doing more to improve himself. If what you’re doing is subpar, change what you’re doing.

    A good teammate, a good example for younger players, a good leader… they’d lead through example and make changes when coaches recommend them. They’d spend extra time improving who they are and what they offer.

    In all likelihood, AJ will end up giving away the farm and most of the salary to move him out of SD. What do we gain if we’re paying his salary (or most of it) still? We give away a bunch of money and a couple of top prospects just so AJ doesn’t have to look at his mistake every day or hear about his stupidity in signing him? So, I could see him moving if someone’s first baseman goes down with injury.

    I would love to see Hosmer succeed. The better production can only help our cause. Smith would not have been an upgrade. Trading for someone else’s bad contract won’t help us. I think we’re stuck with Hosmer, good or bad.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Tony,
      There is definitely fault on both sides. However, Preller did bid against himself and overpay Hosmer–despite warnings. We have no idea if Hosmer has worked hard to improve both his hitting and his defense. There are limits to the capabilities of athletes, especially as they age.
      Trading one bad contract for another is definitely not the answer!

  2. Just shows how players overvalue clubhouse chemistry and undervalue, or fail to totally understand, sabermetrics.
    Hosmer’s failure to produce, failure to be open to changing his swing, and immature response to trade rumors all indicate he must go. I am not sympathetic to his plight. Change your swing and earn your pay and you wouldn’t be the subject of trade rumors. All the time he is putting up garbage numbers he’s being paid $21mm a year.

    1. Hi Tom,
      It’s been awhile…thanks for your thoughts. You’re right. Hosmer should have done more to try to adjust his swing and launch angle and to improve his shoddy defense. But, the onus falls on Preller for not paying attention to the statistical warnings. I believe that being a good guy in the clubhouse matters and that clubhouse chemistry matters.

  3. I know I’m dreaming… but I’d love to see Hos stay, and shut everyone up, by having a solid season…if any of you think for a minute, that Dom Smith would have been a great replacement… even as an outfielder…well…now, you’re the one who’s dreaming…

    1. Dom Smith had a -07 WAR, OPS+ of 84 last year! Hardly an upgrade. It would be the ultimate irony if Hosmer had a really good season. I was never a fan of signing him, but there’s no excuse for the way he’s been treated. It’s so unusual for players to speak out. They obviously feel strongly about the subject.

      Thanks much for your input!


      1. How has he been treated badly. The Padres are tying to move a bad contract with a player who is still overrated. His defense has cost us several games alone and his offense is subpar. You can have all the respect in the world for him, but he still needs to go for the team to be better.
        Also, we weren’t trading for Dom Smith as much as trading to get out of a bad contract. The team could improve by moving Cronenworth to first and putting CJ or Kim at second once Tatis comes back.

        1. Hi Mike,
          Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Yes, the Padres are trying to move a bad contract, a huge mistake by Preller. Hosmer had several Gold Gloves, but the metrics showed he was not a good defender. The Padres made a mistake, and Hosmer has been paying the price with constant trade rumors. His teammates obviously saw the unfairness and spoke out.
          Discounting Hosmer’s popularity in the clubhouse, the Padres would be better off without him.
          Speaking of short, Tatis Jr.’s defensive metrics are terrible. Kim is a far better shortstop.
          This season will be very interesting!

          1. Hi Diane,

            I agree with the Tatis comment, I think he could improve by understanding that sometimes the best throw is no throw. He didn’t look too good in the outfield either last year, but he only had a few reps.

            Hopefully Kim’s bat improves in his sophomore year. I really like Abrams, but hope we are not rushing him.

            Let go Pads!


          2. Hi Mike,
            I’d love to see Kim get a chance and definitely don’ts want to rush Abrams.

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