SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — The San Diego Padres recently signed Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million contract about two weeks ago.
And the only question I have is: Why?
The Padres are light years from contention. Hosmer and third baseman Chase Headley (reacquired from the Yankees) are the only Padres making more than $6.8 million this year, and while Hosmer should be in the prime of his career, Headley, who will be 34 in May, isn’t. Neither is Freddy Galvis, the third highest paid Padre at that $6.8 million figure. Galvis is a good defender, but never hit much, and Petco Park is tougher on hitters than his former home in Philadelphia. (The Padres were dead last in the N.L. in runs last year.)
So... what are the Padres doing here? Rebuilding? They do have some decent-to-good young players in Manuel Margot and Jose Pirela.
Wil Myers is still here. Myers hit 30 home runs last year in an otherwise forgettable season (.243/.328/.464) that produced 2.1 bWAR. Good, but not the superstardom that was projected for Myers after his appearance near the top of prospect lists when he was in the Royals organization. With Hosmer’s signing, Myers will be moving back to the outfield. He hasn’t spent significant time there since 2015.
Hunter Renfroe had a pretty good rookie season last year, though he struck out 140 times in 445 at-bats, which is obviously not optimal.
Perhaps all that needs to be said about the Padres and 2018 is that, per their depth chart, Clayton Richard is their No. 1 starter.
Yikes. Richard posted a 4.79 ERA and 1.515 WHIP last year, led the major leagues in hits allowed (240) and for all that had a 0.4 bWAR season. None of the other Padres starters strike fear into the hearts or bats of big-league hitters.
For some reason, the Padres didn’t trade Brad Hand at the deadline last year, nor in this past offseason. He’ll close again, and if he’s as good as he was in 2017, there will be teams coming to call at the deadline again this year. And Hand is under contract to the Padres for two more years after 2018 (plus a 2021 buyout), which would be quite affordable for a contending team.
This is likely one of my safest predictions for 2018: The Padres will finish last in the N.L. West. It’s a measure of how anonymous this team is that the photographers who usually take photos at spring practices, the ones I use in this series, didn’t take any at Padres workouts. Instead you see the lovely photo of Peoria Stadium, the Padres’ spring home, at the top of this post.
The Cubs will face the Padres in San Diego July 13-14-15 and the Padres will be at Wrigley for a four-game set August 2-3-4-5.