Even Peter Seidler, who is normally quite subdued, came out and spoke to the local media. He talked about his disappointment in losing out on Ohtani but did say that the team made their best effort to secure his services. The team seems insistent on getting better for 2018 as they continue to flirt with Eric Hosmer, and frankly, that scares me.
First off, I like Eric Hosmer. He is an excellent left-handed glove at first base and a hitter who has progressed with the bat. At the age of 28, he should still have something left in his tank. He has four Gold Gloves and is coming off his best season as a professional where he slugged 25 homers, hit .318, and recorded a .385 on-base percentage. Hosmer is a good player, but he about to be paid like he is a great one.
The young first baseman has totaled seven years of service time in MLB, and he is certainly entitled to be paid for it. His career has been very productive, and there are reports he and his agent Scott Boras are asking for an 8-10 year deal in the area of $180-200 million. Wow. Just Wow. That would be a major investment and something the Padres should really think twice about. Not that Hosmer isn’t worth the money now, but the tail end of a long-term deal like that could get very burdening for a franchise.
There is no doubt that Hosmer will eclipse the $120 million mark this winter. He is a quality addition. Should the Padres hand out the highest contract in the history of the franchise? Is Hosmer worth that kind of money? Or are the Padres just like a teenager with their first paycheck in hand? It is no secret that the team has money to spend, but how they should spend it is up for much debate.
If you ask me, the owners are getting tired of being told they don’t care. The knowledgeable fan realizes that there is currently a process being developed. This process takes time, and it can certainly be painful. The fruits are already showing, though, as the minor league system is flourishing (Michel Baez, Gabriel Arias, Fernando Tatis), and the major league team already has young stars to watch on an everyday basis (Wil Myers, Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe). Peter Seidler and Ron Fowler are just going to have to endure another season of progression before this team starts to compete.
Patience has never been a strong suit for Padre fans. And rightfully so, as the fan base has been beaten and abused most of its existence. With the numerous ownership moves and philosophy changes, this franchise had been just spinning its wheels for decades. With A.J. Preller and his staff in place, the clouds are lifting, and Padre fans can see the promised land.
Signing Eric Hosmer would be a sexy thing to do. Fans would definitely love it, and the Padres would get immediate national press. However, the Padres are far from competing. Adding Hosmer would give the team arguably five more wins on the season, and that is being generous. Paying a contract like that to inch towards being a .500 team is not wise. There are other options. Options that can be useful now, and the team will not have to commit for more than a couple of seasons.
Carlos Santana is a very decent option for the Friars. He, like Hosmer, is tied to draft-pick compensation after Santana rejected the $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians last month. Losing a pick would be rough, but Santana is only expected to ink a three or four-year deal, and reports have that in the neighborhood of $45-60 million. That would be a fraction of the cost of Eric Hosmer and definitely worth looking into.
The former catcher is 31 (32 when the season starts) but still figures to be productive well into his mid 30’s. In delving into his numbers versus Hosmer, you can see that their career totals in games played and at-bats are eerily similar. Santana has played 1,116 games and recorded 3,994 at-bats, while Hosmer has played 1,048 games and recorded 3,991 at-bats. You can’t get much closer than that when comparing two major leaguers who played in the same division and faced the same pitching each year.
Career totals of Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana
- WAR totals Homer 14.1, Santana 24.5
- HR Totals Hosmer 127, Santana 174
- OPS Hosmer .781, Santana .810
- OPS+ Hosmer 111, Santana 121
- SLG Hosmer .439, Santana .445
- OBP Hosmer .342, Santana .365
- Stolen Bases Hosmer 60, Santana 40
- Defensive War Hosmer -4.1, Santana -3.9 (last four years only)
Looking at these numbers, it is amazing that Hosmer is looking to get at least three times what Santana will get on the open market. Yes, Hosmer is three years younger, but his value is really inflated at the moment. Santana is a switch-hitter and though he was moved from behind the dish, has great defensive skill at the position. He also reportedly wants to get better, as 2017 was his best defensive year at first.
The book on Eric Hosmer is that he is a gamer. He loves the game of baseball and is a definite clubhouse leader. Santana, though much quieter, can still help lead the Padres as he has a Latin influence that would surely be beneficial with all the young Latino players coming through the system. Hosmer might have the edge as far as leadership skill, but is that worth all that extra money? Is that worth the potential to get stuck with a bad contract?
In the end, the Padres will do what they please. Eric Hosmer might be the sexy pick, but Carlos Santana is the smart choice.
What do you think?