The World Series hasn’t even been over for 24 hours but the offseason is already starting to heat up. Earlier today, Justin Upton re-upped with the Angels rather than exercising his opt-out, the first of many major moves that should come around the league this winter. Teams changing teams in free agency won’t happen for at least a week or so, but that doesn’t mean teams aren’t preparing their plans. With that preparation, of course, comes leaks to the media and the churning of the rumor mill. Sure enough, the Red Sox are already being connected to one of the top free agents on the market this winter. According to Fanrag Sports’ Jon Heyman, Boston is expected to target former Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer over the offseason.
This news doesn’t really come as much of a surprise, because as we’ve discussed the easiest place for the Red Sox to upgrade their offense is at first base. Hosmer is the top first baseman on the market. There are plenty of positives to the potential of Hosmer in Boston. For one thing, his signing would allow Hanley Ramirez to stick at designated hitter without having to worry about how he can hold up physically in the field. Additionally, Hosmer is good. He had a career-year in 2017, posting a 135 wRC+. He’s been incredibly durable over his career, makes great contact and his reputation says he plays a strong first base even if the metrics disagree. When you also consider he’ll only be 29 next year, you start to see why he could be commanding big money on the open market.
All of that being said, he’s not really a guy I want the Red Sox to emerge from the winter with. While he’s fine and would probably be an upgrade over Mitch Moreland, he’s not as big of an upgrade as his reputation would suggest. Because of this, it’s really easy to see him being one of the most overpaid players this winter. MLB Trade Rumors, for what it’s worth, projects that he’ll get six years and $132 million. The biggest issue with Hosmer is that he’s not a power hitter and he plays a position that almost demands power. He has years like 2017 where he hits for a high enough average that he can get by with average power, but it’s not consistent year-to-year. Perhaps hitting at Fenway would boost his doubles power — he is an opposite field hitter who could use the Monster to his advantage — but that’s not enough to command that large of a deal.
It makes sense that the Red Sox are at least considering the top player available at a position of need this winter, but hopefully they don’t actually get too deep in negotiations. There are other free agents who should be a greater priority, with J.D. Martinez being the most obvious one. Even if they’re looking for someone who has first base experience, I’d rather see someone like Carlos Santana or Yonder Alonso as a target. Hosmer is going to get paid this winter, and now let’s just hope the Red Sox don’t take the plunge and become the ones to write the checks.