The Winter Meetings will begin this coming week, and the Hot Stove will be blaring at full blast.
Teams will begin spending money and making trades as general managers look to set their rosters for the 2018 MLB season. Some might go for that “blockbuster” deal, while others will just look to satisfy team needs.
A.J. Preller and Co. are expected to fill team needs, and then some. The Padres are looking for a starting shortstop, and acquiring a starting pitcher is also a possibility. Preller is expected to take calls regarding Brad Hand. Dealing the left-handed reliever, who is still as coveted as he was at the end of last July, is a strong possibility (as long as the deal is right).
The Padres have never been ones to go out and get a prized free agent, but the current regime has been giving signals that they want to end that trend. The free agent in question, in this case, is first baseman Eric Hosmer. Hosmer is coming off a 2017 season where he hit 25 home runs and drove in 94 RBI, finishing with a .883 OPS and a 135 wRC+. He is considered the prized infielder in a free agent market that is relatively shallow this offseason.
The Padres recently made news, presenting themselves as a potential suitor for Hosmer. The team met with Hosmer on Dec. 8, according to several reports. The Padres are said to be “aggressively pursuing” the 28-year-old first baseman. Signing a player like Hosmer would be the biggest splash in franchise history. This would be bigger than Tony Gwynn taking the “San Diego discount” to stay with the Friars.
The franchise has never given a big contract to a player. Wil Myers‘ deal, worth $83 million over six years, is the largest one in franchise history.
This contract is significant for two reasons: 1) Myers is a fan favorite, and considered the cornerstone of Preller’s rebuild. 2) The current regime is willing to make necessary moves to improve the team. Hosmer’s deal will be more than Myers’ contract. Signing a player to a huge deal has its risks, but carries rewards.
Let us now consider the pros and the cons of signing Eric Hosmer to the Padres.
Wil Myers is the fan favorite in San Diego, as of now. He struggled in 2017, but still wooed fans by hitting 30 home runs. He also earned the nickname “Giant killer,” and that made Padre fans happy. If the Padres were to acquire Hosmer, he would instantly become the biggest baseball star in the city. Heck, he would become the biggest sports star, period.
San Diego doesn’t have a roster full of all-stars like the other teams in the NL West, and the big clubs in other divisions. Hosmer was in a similar situation with the Kansas City Royals, another small market team. He would have as much popularity in San Diego as he did in KC before taking the field at Petco Park.
Speaking of the Royals, Hosmer was a part of their magical run in 2014 and 2015. The Royals shocked the baseball world in 2014, from their dramatic comeback win against the Oakland Athletics in the AL Wild Card Game, to their sweep though the AL playoffs. That run ended with a loss to the San Francisco Giants in seven games in the 2014 World Series.
The Royals were considered the favorites in 2015, and they did not disappoint. A small market team in the Midwest earned home field advantage in the postseason, and gave the city their first World Series trophy since 1985. The Royals did this with team chemistry. G.M. Dayton Moore put together a team of decent players, not superstars, who created a strong bond. That bond sent them to the promised land.
The Padres’ clubhouse is filled with young players, with more coming in the future. Hosmer would be in a similar situation in San Diego. Only this time, he could establish himself as a clubhouse leader. He could show the “kids” how the Royals made themselves into a winner in KC, and bring the Padres together in the same manner. Myers is currently the starting first baseman for the Padres, but said recently he would move back to the outfield if the front office were to sign Hosmer. It seems the current clubhouse leader already knows about chemistry and sacrifice.
Hosmer played in all 162 games for the Royals last season. He played in 158 games in 2016, and played the same amount in 2015. He’s reliable. Manager Andy Green would have a player he can count on to make a start with limited rest.
It was only a sample size, but Hosmer hit well in Petco last season. He went 6-for-13 in three games, slugging 1.000. He had two home runs and five RBI in two of those three games. It appeared that he liked hitting in Petco.
Cost of a Deal
This is really the only con to signing Hosmer. What will be his price tag? This team has developed a plan to be in contention in two years at the very earliest.
Hosmer’s agent, Scott Boras, had already floated the idea of a $200 million contract for his client. It isn’t likely that any team will pay that. However, a contract as big as $150 million for Hosmer is a possibility. The Padres can’t afford that. Even if they could, spending that much on one player wouldn’t be wise.
The thought of Hosmer in a San Diego is nice, and it would be a huge boost to this franchise. He has the ability and the intangibles to help this young clubhouse get to the next level. It would also be a signal to the rest of MLB that the Padres are serious about climbing out of the cellar.
If the price is right, the Padres should stop at nothing to acquire the left-handed first baseman. A contract worth under $110 million would be suitable for this team. Somewhere in the $90 million range would be a huge victory for Preller. If his price is too steep, they should wish him well and focus on the 2019 free agent market.
The MLB Winter Meetings begin on Dec. 11. Let the fun begin.