I like Eric Hosmer. On the list of non-Red Sox players I enjoy watching the most, he is right near the top. He’s also a fine player beyond my own subjectivity. He was a four-win contributor last season and has slashed .284/.342/.439 during his seven years with the Kansas City Royals. In addition, he seems to be in the midst of the peak of his career, having set a personal best with an OPS+ of 132 in 2017 while hitting 25 home runs for the second-straight season.
The fact that he had the best year of his career in 2017 was certainly fortuitous since he was heading into a winter of free agency, or so it seemed until the hot stove turned out to be more of a ice box. But, finally, there has been movement and Hosmer signed an eight-year deal with the San Diego Padres over the weekend.
Before the offseason wrapped its icy clutches around us, the Red Sox were considered a contender to win Hosmer’s services. They had a need and cash to spend. While most were more optimistic about them signing J.D. Martinez (which could still happen), Hosmer was at least on the radar. But the Red Sox didn’t pursuit Hosmer aggressively, or at least it didn’t seem like it. And now he is a Padre.
That’s a good thing.
Don’t get me wrong, as I said at the top, I like Hosmer. He’s a good player, but he just signed a contract that I would be terrified of if I was anyone outside of the Padres front office. Ignoring the dollar amount from the deal, the length is something to marvel at. Eight years. That’s a lot of years. Just think, eight years ago Josh Hamilton led MLB in bWAR and Carl Crawford posted a mark of 7.0, which ranked seventh among position players. Crawford then signed a seven-year deal with the Red Sox and we know what happened after that.
Hosmer is not necessarily going to regress like Crawford did, but he also hasn’t been as valuable a player as Crawford was at his peak. Crawford’s bWAR of 7.0 in 2010 (during his age-28 season) was a career-high but also the fifth time he had bee above 4.0. Hosmer has only gotten there once and he’s only a year younger than 2010 Crawford. That’s also why Martinez remains a good fit even if it will take a similar deal to land him. Unlike Hosmer, who is good at everything, but not great at one facet, Martinez can crush baseballs. He had 29 home runs with the Arizona Diamondbacks alone last season, has a career OPS+ of 130 and has already recorded three four-win (or better) seasons. Obviously the skill sets of all three players are different, but you can understand why Boston, even with a different front office, wasn’t eager to drop eight years down on the table.
Without Hosmer, the Red Sox still aren’t at tip-top shape at first base. Mitch Moreland was signed to a two-year deal after a two-win season and Hanley Ramirez is still on the deal he signed before the 2015 season, but he has had and up-and-down tenure in Boston. So the options aren’t as flashy as signing Hosmer. And, the odds are that Hosmer is going to be better than both Moreland and Ramirez combined next year. The key part is that the Sox are not going to be on the hook for either player for the next eight years. If Hosmer has the type of back-half of a career that players like Chipper Jones did, then the Red Sox would have made a mistake, but from where I’m sitting, not being beholden to one single player for the next eight years is a good place to be. Unless that player is Mookie Betts. Sign him to a 100-year contract.
While the Hosmer signing has a much more drastic impact on the Royals and Padres, this is a blog about the Red Sox, so let’s look at how it will affect them. (Jen McCaffrey; MassLive)
Eduardo Nunez is back and everyone is excited. (Matthew Kory; BP Boston)
Craig Kimbrel is a fantastic closer but he is also hell-bent on being a fantastic parent. (Nick Cafardo and Alex Speier; Boston Globe)
Carson Smith is having a nice start to his spring. Considering the right-hander did pretty well in a small sample for the Red Sox last year (1.35 ERA, 1.96 FIP), that’s just another sign pointed upward. (Jen McCaffrey; MassLive)
Mike Lowell was a fan-favorite and a damn fine third baseman. Rafael Devers is already the former and trying to become the latter. While he looks pretty close already, some tutelage under Lowell will help. (Christopher Smith: MassLive)
Even if he isn’t going to be 100 percent by the beginning of the season, Dustin Pedroia is 100 percent sure the Red Sox don’t have a leadership problem. (Nick Cafardo; Boston Globe)