There have been rumors of the Cubs’ interest in free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer for some time, and now, it’s apparently happening:
Eric Hosmer, Cubs are close to a deal— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 3, 2023
I’d take this as pretty certain, as Jon Heyman is pretty plugged in to player agents.
The Cubs have actually been rumored to be after Hosmer for even longer than this offseason. There were rumors flying that they might have taken his contract from the Padres last spring right before the 2022 season began, but obviously that didn’t happen.
Hosmer, who turned 33 last October, hit .268/.334/.382 (102-for-380) with the Padres and Red Sox last year with eight home runs in 108 games. He’s far from the player the Padres hoped they were getting when they signed him to an eight-year, $144 million deal before the 2018 season.
(Aside: Next time you want to complain about the Jason Heyward deal, consider that one.)
The good news about signing a guy like this is that, since he was unconditionally released, the Padres are on the hook for his entire contract less the minimum salary. It’s true that Hosmer was once a very good player (4.3 bWAR as recently as 2017) who has four Gold Gloves, though his defense has declined in recent years.
The bad news is that this doesn’t really give Matt Mervis the chance I think he should get, because “veteran presence” or something like that would likely push David Ross to play him and send “the rook” back to Iowa.
If Hosmer can’t perform or otherwise isn’t a useful player, the Cubs can just release him with no exposure other than a small portion of the minimum salary.
I suppose there’s at least a possibility that Hosmer might wind up recovering some of his previous value. That’s particularly true because of the new shift restriction rules. As a lefthanded hitter, Hosmer was shifted against quite a bit and it’s possible his BA might go up without shifting. That doesn’t account for the loss of power, though.
As always, we await developments.
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