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Cubs free agent targets: Eric Hosmer and Dominic Smith

The Cubs might want a first baseman to hedge in case Matt Mervis doesn’t make it.

A rare sighting of Eric Hosmer in a Red Sox uniform
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

You can count me as one of the folks who thinks Matt Mervis is going to make a big splash for the Cubs in 2023, perhaps even being a Rookie of the Year candidate.

Of course, I acknowledge Mervis is not a sure thing and so it would probably be wise for the Cubs to at least consider some alternatives.

I already wrote about one of those possible alternatives last week — Trey Mancini, who has played 264 games at first base in his six big-league seasons. He also has the advantage in this case of batting righthanded, so if the Cubs were to sign him they could perhaps platoon him with Mervis.

What if the Cubs aren’t convinced Mervis is the full-time answer? Here are a couple of first basemen they could look at, and in fact have been linked to in the past.

There was some talk that the Cubs were interested in acquiring Eric Hosmer from the Padres before the 2022 season began. Hosmer signed an eight-year, $144 million deal with San Diego before the 2018 season and if you think Jason Heyward’s Cubs contract was bad, that one was an utter disaster for San Diego. In four-plus years with the Padres, Hosmer hit .265/.325/.411 and produced 3.7 bWAR.

He was going to be included in the deal that brought Juan Soto to San Diego, but he used a no-trade clause to reject that deal and instead wound up traded to the Red Sox for a minor leaguer. He played 12 games for Boston before being sidelined with back trouble, came back for the final two games of the year and then was DFA’d and released by the Red Sox last week.

So why should the Cubs take a chance? He’s 33 and hasn’t been more than about a 1 bWAR player since his last year in Kansas City in 2017.

I suppose the reason is: Because the Padres are paying off the last three years of his deal. Thus he’d cost only the minimum salary, so payroll-wise he’d be paid the same as Mervis for 2023. It wouldn’t be worth wasting a 40-man roster spot on Hosmer, so all I’d give him is a minor league deal and a NRI.

More intriguing is Dominic Smith, who was the Mets’ No. 1 pick (11th overall) in the 2013 draft, selected nine picks after Kris Bryant and ahead of these other players also taken in the first round: Hunter Renfroe, Tim Anderson and Aaron Judge. Shows you what a crapshoot the draft can be.

Anyway, Smith worked his way into several Top 100 prospect lists and made his MLB debut in 2017. The only year where he really showed well was the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, where he hit .316/.377/.616 (56-for-177) with 10 home runs in 50 games, a 2.0 bWAR season. That’s pretty good for that amount of time, but he regressed to a .667 OPS in 145 games in 2021 and played in just 56 games for the Mets in 2022 with a .560 OPS.

The Cubs, though, have had interest:

That was three weeks ago; whether the Cubs still have interest in Smith is unknown. He’s a free agent, and given his performance over the last two years he probably isn’t worth more than a minor-league deal, either. The fact that he’s still young — won’t turn 28 until June — might give some indication that he could turn things around with a change of scenery.

I’m not thrilled with any of those choices — Mancini, Hosmer or Smith — but if I had to choose one, I think it’s Mancini, because he can provide a righthanded bat to Mervis’ lefty bat. Mancini can also play the outfield if needed, as can Smith. Hosmer is exclusively a first baseman.

Which one of these men would you like to see the Cubs sign, if any?


Of the three first basemen mentioned in this article, which one would you most want the Cubs to sign?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Eric Hosmer
    (114 votes)
  • 49%
    Trey Mancini
    (448 votes)
  • 16%
    Dominic Smith
    (146 votes)
  • 22%
    None of the above
    (202 votes)
910 votes total Vote Now