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2023 Cubs player profiles: Eric Hosmer is keeping the spot warm

The sixth in a series of capsule biographies. Eric Hosmer is a placeholder position player who is likely only in Chicago for part of the year, but he doesn’t really hurt you out there.

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Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Eric John Hosmer is currently splitting time at first base and designated hitter for the 2023 Chicago Cubs. He’s not expected to stay as phenom Matt Mervis and his powerful bat are pushing him from Des Moines and partner Trey Mancini, who is doing better after a slow start, has a second year on his deal. Hosmer has a one-year deal with the Cubs for the MLB minimum, $720,000, and the San Diego Padres are paying the rest of his contract through 2025.

Indeed, he could probably be had for the highest bidder right now, but it doesn’t seem as if the fish are lining up to bite, and so, he’ll be around for a minute. He’s not a BAD player, but he isn’t worth the huge contract the Padres signed him to after his stint with the Royals. Solid but unspectacular would be a good description of Hosmer and his game. He’s a former Gold Glover with a line-drive bat in a position that calls for power, who has had good years, but never lived up to his draft order (No. 3 overall in the 2008 first round). His best power years were 2016/17 when he hit 25 home runs each year, but his average output of 19 HR and 86 RBI isn’t in the upper class of first basemen, and his glove skills have diminished some at age 33.

Hosmer’s current slash line (through games of April 12) is .310/.394/.379, and except for the average, that’s a prototypical Hosmer line, with no homers and eight RBI. It remains to be seen how much he’ll play as the Cubs complex roster situation presents additional opportunities for younger players. Hosmer could be the odd man out in many scenarios, and the Cubs aren’t paying him enough to worry about keeping him if he can’t be moved.

Sahadev Sharma explained why the Cubs are taking a chance on Hosmer as well as anyone can {$}. “Hosmer’s floor, along with his low strikeout rate and a reputation for being well-liked by teammates, are positives to the deal.” Fangraphs had similar thoughts.

It’s about improving by gradation, rather than dramatic upswings, for these 2023 Cubs. Hosmer/Mancini is a better tandem than Schwindel/Rivas, though I’d give Rivas the edge as a fielder. But Alfonso Rivas’ line-drive bat isn’t as advanced as Hosmer’s, and he’s on another team now. So is Frank the Tank, way across the Pacific Ocean.

Indeed, Michael Bauman went on to say:

The qualities that usually got hand-waved around his lack of power — superior athleticism and defense — have also faded. Hosmer was in the 18th percentile for sprint speed in 2022, stole zero bases, and graded out near the bottom of the league in just about every advanced defensive metric.


You can go on and on about “hole at first base,” but it really sinks in when you’re confronted with a team-wide .232/.304/.348 line out of first base.

It’s really unlikely that Hosmer will be going back to Boston — he’s already selling his old house. Nice-looking place. I’d kill for that kitchen. But he could, I guess. He’s got a no-trade clause in that contract, though. His market is limited. He isn’t better than anyone else’s starting first baseman. He might be a good LH DH option for someone.

For now, he seems to be a good human, and he needs a place to play. Matt Mervis will arrive when it’s time for him to arrive. A few years from now, Eric Hosmer will be another Xavier Nady, the answer to a trivia question. But for the time being and any other beings, he’s a Cub, and we can root for him.