San Diego Padres Sign 1B Eric Hosmer
By Nick Stevens
After months of back and forth between Scott Boras and the media, false alarm social media posts thanks to a reported hacker, and a divided fan base, it’s all over. Eric Hosmer is officially a member of the San Diego Padres.
Hosmer Watch 2018 has finally come to an end. According to a report by San Diego Union-Tribune beat writer Kevin Acee the San Diego Padres have officially signed 1B Eric Hosmer. The deal is for eight years and $144 million, making Eric Hosmer the highest paid player in Padres’ history. There is an opt-out after year five
For months, fans and media have debated over whether this signing would be beneficial to the Padres. The team has a small handful of young pieces that figure to be cornerstones of the future, but it’s fairly unanimous that the Friars will not be a playoff team in 2018. A common and valid argument against Hosmer has been that by the time San Diego will be ready to make a run, Hosmer will be entering his decline.
His statistical fluctuations have been well documented through this free agent journey, so I won’t highlight those here. Instead, I want to take a look at what this signing means for other members of this team. Specifically, younger members who now appear on the outside looking in.
Hosmer’s signing points to a bench role for Jose Pirela with the San Diego Padres.
Dennis Lin , of The Athletic, reported that current first baseman Wil Myers is open to making the switch to left field with the addition of Hosmer. Myers has played over 1,700 innings in the outfield, only 35 of those in left. His overall UZR in the outfield is -5.5; however, in his limited time in left field, that number is 2.2. While it is an extremely small sample size, it appears to be his best fit. He’s been the best hitter on this team for the last few seasons, so the Padres are left with no choice but to move him to the outfield. Lin has also reported that Myers added 20 pounds of muscle ($) in the offseason, in preparation the addition of Hosmer.
Moving Myers to left field leaves a number of potentially productive outfielders buried on the depth chart. Before signing Hosmer, Jose Pirela appeared to be the favorite to start in left. Pirela had a highly successful 2017 season. Appearing in 83 games, he slashed .288/.347/.490 with 10 home runs and 25 doubles. Among all Padres’ hitters, he finished with the highest WAR, 2.1. His BABIP was .343, due in large part to his increased line-drive rate (21%) and hard-contact rate (34%).
While Pirela came out hot after a June promotion to the big leagues, he began to fizzle over August and September. He was eventually shut down due to a finger injury. At the end of last season, Manager Andy Green said Pirela was “definitely at the front of the line” when asked about his chances of starting in 2018.
Now, it appears that Pirela will have to either compete with Hunter Renfroe for the right-field starting job or become the Padres fourth outfielder. He’s a perfectly good option to have off the bench, however a lot of fans seemed content with letting Pirela get a full year’s crack at the outfield.
What does this mean for San Diego Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero?
Outside of Eric Hosmer, Franchy Cordero has been the story of the winter for the Padres. He spent his winter in the Dominican Republic, ultimately winning the league’s MVP and Rookie of the Year award. Through 50 games, Cordero slashed .323/.393/.495 with five home runs, seven doubles, and five triples.
In limited action with the Padres’ last season, Cordero flashed outstanding ability. Even though he struck out in 44% of his at-bats, Cordero has earned the praise of Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs. Sullivan penned this piece on Cordero last week, declaring him the “most exciting player on the Padres.”
Related Story: Franchy Cordero Dominated In The Dominican Republic
Cordero was the fourth-fastest center fielder in all of baseball last year, according to Statcast. His 29.5 sprint speed put him behind only Byron Buxton, Billy Hamilton, and Bradley Zimmer. He also finished among the league leaders in exit-velocity at the plate.
Does Cordero challenge Hunter Renfroe and Jose Pirela for the starting right field job? Or does he have to sit in AAA? The outfield battle just became a lot more interesting storyline to keep an eye on this spring.
What does all of this mean for the San Diego Padres?
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At the end of the day, I’m excited to see Eric Hosmer in a Padres’ uniform. I agree that he has been over-hyped and has been overpaid. However, Hosmer now becomes the best hitter on the Padres, he makes the infield defense better, and he brings a veteran presence to an extremely young clubhouse. He isn’t the “elite” player that a lot of people believe he is, but he is very good.
Over the last three seasons, Hosmer has a total of 88 doubles, 68 home runs, and has hit just under .300. His presence in the lineup should help out Wil Myers and Manuel Margot who figure to surround him in the lineup.
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Players like Cordero, Pirela, Travis Jankowski, Matt Sczur, and Alex Dickerson will have to step up this spring if they want to remain with the team. This is exactly what the Padres need, internal competition. Who will step up? Spring training games start in just a few days, so we will find out quickly.
Welcome to San Diego, Eric Hosmer!