There are reportedly two deals on the table for Eric Hosmer right now, one from the Padres for $140 million (although rumors are swirling it could be less than that) and one from the Royals for $147 million (which also might be no more than whispers), with both spanning seven years.
The free agent market has been agonizingly slow this offseason, so while it would be a seemingly welcome development that he actually has major offers available to choose from, neither of these deals are ideal for Hosmer based on what he was looking for at the beginning of the offseason.
Hosmer’s agent, Scott Boras, has been setting lofty targets for all of his free agents this offseason, with this one reportedly being set at 10-years and around $200 million. While that was probably not a completely attainable goal and way too reliant on his “intangibles” netting Hosmer another two years and $40 million, the current offers are currently not even close to where they thought the negotiations would be at this stage of the offseason.
But at least offers are circulating. That’s a lot more than other free agents can say in the new year. If he goes with one of the existing figures, rather than negotiating further and trying to get a third team involved (hello, Cardinals!) to force those numbers north a wee bit, then there are some pros and cons to consider about each opportunity. Neither is ideal, but let’s break it down.
A change of scenery, for one. What hurts more? That he returns to his old team and takes up a major chunk of their salary commitments for the foreseeable future, but maybe doesn’t perform to the level he’s expected to and the fans he knows and loves turn against him in four or five years. Or, that he breaks ground in a new location with a new bar of success and maybe disappoints or maybe doesn’t. Probably the former, because at least the latter would be a fresh start and have the better storyline if he does succeed for the duration of the deal.
However while he could help San Diego for a season or two, what happens when his salary makes it hard for them to build around him or they realize he isn’t the core player to have constructed a rebuild around? There are positives here, until there aren’t. It’s a payday in California, but a payday with more downsides than the “hey I’m playing in warm weather and a rich man” upside provides.
The major con here would be that he would be forcing Wil Myers out of his spot at first base, and while Myers is very much open to that should the Padres end up signing Hosmer the last time he moved to the outfield it ... didn’t really work out the way it should have, and would not be an experiment to try again. Let’s just say that Myers should absolutely not be that enthusiastic about moving positions again.
So Hosmer rolling into San Diego with all that Taco Tuesday and margarita money burning a hole in his pocket and pushing Myers into a role he can’t succeed in, only to stop being “$140 million dollars productive” halfway into the contract doesn’t seem like it would end up as a positive for the team, Hosmer, or the fans. They wouldn’t be able to move Hosmer anywhere else in a way that benefits the Padres — you’ve seen the non-Kimbrel trades, yes? — it would stunt Myers’ contributions to the team again, and it would only become more a burdensome signing as time went on.
They don’t need Hosmer. And whenever a signing made up of anything else but necessity turns sour, it’s that much harder to continue defending the decision as things fall apart. Why mess with a decent rebuild (or at least a decent plan for a rebuild) with an unnecessary move like this?
Well ... he would get paid $7 million more and he wouldn’t have to forward his mail to another state. Which is a pro ... probably? He would also get to stay with a fanbase that already likes him and in an environment where he knows he can succeed rather than getting used to a new park, group of fans, and set of expectations. But that’s only a pro for so long, as we will discuss in the “cons” section.
Similar to the Padres, the Royals ALSO don’t really need Hosmer. What likely happens is that they pay him a bunch of money so they can say they kept one of their signature free agents this year, and then run out of room to add any more pieces around him and struggle to reach the heights they will try to convince their fans they can achieve when making the case for bringing him back in the first place.
So he’s then stuck in a market that used to root for him either underachieving himself or being the only major contributor on an underachieving team. That sounds like a GREAT outcome for a baseball player that is still a few years away from 30. Exactly what he’s hoping for when he signs his last major contract of his career.
Which means the outcome if these are the only two contracts he has to pick from are: a team that doesn’t really have a need for him and whose fanbase might turn on him in a few years or ... a team that doesn’t really have a need for him and whose fanbase might turn on him in a few years.
Not great, Bob.
The Red Sox are out on him, so unless the Cardinals’ interest is stronger than currently reported or a new team enters the discussions and puts a similar set of terms and money on the table, things aren’t working out exactly as Boras and Hosmer thought they would when this offseason kicked off. But after all, none of the free agents still available are having the offseason they thought they would so at least he’s not alone in that disappointment.
The Cardinals would be a good landing spot, but neither of the teams that have actually put details to their interest would be as positive an ending for Hosmer this year.