Spring Training is now in full swing, and Opening Day is less than three weeks away! It’s a very exciting time to see players returning to form, prospects showing off, and new managers shifting clubhouses towards a new future. There’s also the great joy of watching big contract players adapt to their new surroundings.
Yu Darvish has been as advertised, tossing 9 Ks in 4.1 innings so far this spring. J.D. Martinez hit a dinger in his first game in a Sox uniform, the only issue is that it was against Rick Porcello. Then for some magical and terrifying reason, Giancarlo Stanton looks even better than we all imagined in the new Yankee lineup.
And then there’s Eris Hosmer, the newest San Diego Padre.
Eric Hosmer signed the biggest deal this offseason, but it wasn’t easy for the former Royals first baseman. Hosmer was initially offered the deal he signed, an 8-year/$144 million contract, back in December, but waited almost two full months before signing. That’s how long it takes to decided to move to San Diego.
Hosmer had other suitors, of course. The Royals were at the table in negotiations, as were the Red Sox, Cardinals, Angels and Rockies at one point or another. The Royals seemed to be the likely favorites, considering that Hosmer is a hometown hero, after scoring the most important run of their 2015 World Series win. However, the Padres number was bigger, and the contract length longer, and Hosmer chose PetCo over Kauffman.
Can you blame him? The Royals have been trending downward since 2015, and while it seemed like Moustakas and Cain would certainly leave, the only Royal of any real value left behind is Moose, who signed a travesty of a deal with KC. The Royals were not going to offer any kind of length, especially not when they are about to rebuild. The Padres were the only option left for Hosmer and he took it.
The question then becomes, do the Padres even need Eric Hosmer?
No, but they have him now.
In the interest of trying to figure out why the Padres would spend so much on another first baseman, let’s take a look at the possible reasons for the Padres to sign Hosmer.
First off, let’s look at his skillset as it benefits the Padres.
Hosmer joins the Padres and instantly becomes their most viable offensive player. The only player close to Hosmer’s numbers is Myers, only beating out the ex-Royal in Home Runs, Triples, Walks and Stolen Bases.
In regards to positioning, Hosmer is really only suited to play first base. That’s just fine and dandy considering that Myers came into the league as an outfielder. With Myers moving to Left, the Padres outfield becomes one of the best in the NL, on paper that is. If Hunter Renfroe can find his potential and Manuel Margot can remain healthy, the PetCo outfield looks scary for years to come.
Hosmer brings All-Star skills to a team that hosted an All-Star Game. Whether or not he becomes a solid member of the Padres isn’t something to wait for, it’s already happened. By putting on a Padres uniform Hosmer automatically makes them better.
Even if they overpaid.
The last big signing the Padres made was in 2016 when they signed Wil Myers to an extension worth $83 Million over 6 years. Not bad considering that Myers is the face of the organization and you need someone to take that mantle. The Padres have had a long-standing feud between ownership and the Padres fan base. First, there were the uniform switches, seemingly changing the branding of the team every two years. This was followed by the inability to field a decent team, posting a losing record every year since 2010.
The Padres have been a High-AAA team at best over the last few years, in just about every regard. You’ve got young players attempting to make an impact, veteran players trying to spend another summer in the sun, and their best players walking away for greener pastures and bigger contracts. The Padres have been a revolving door of guys who can get paid somewhere else and guys who are getting paid too much.
Before the Myers and Hosmer deals, the biggest contracts handed out by the Padres were Jedd Gyrko ($35M), Jake Peavy ($52M), and James Shields ($75M). The returns on those contracts were dismal. The Padres are hoping that Myers and Hosmer deals are a change from the norm.
The other change from the norm is that the Padres have a solid, exciting and potent starting lineup. Heading into the 2017 season, a calendar was published with a Padres star player headlining each month. One problem. Nine months contained ex-Padres players.
I bought it, because it’s existence made me so happy.
Guess what the Padres have this year? Enough solid, current Padres to fill an entire yearly calendar. They are exciting, even if it appears they don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. This Padres team, unlike the teams in years prior, have the chance to turn some heads and reignite their fan base. At the very least, that’s what this Hosmer signing is all about.
Did the Padres overpay for Eric Hosmer? Absolutely. Especially since they could have waited another month and gotten him for 10% of what they signed him for. Is this signing an olive branch to the San Diego faithful after years of disappointment and lackluster performance, both on-field and in the front office? Absolutely. And it’s something they couldn’t have waited to do.
Eric Hosmer’s time as a San Diego Padre is going to be a success, no matter what. His presence alone should speak volumes.
…but if he sucks in 2018, heads will roll in the Gaslamp District.