Eric Hosmer is heading into year three of an eight-year deal with the San Diego Padres, but MLB.com questions his long-term future.
I love this time of year because all of the Major League Baseball writers are weighing in with their opinions of regular season predictions, MVP candidates, and, most recently, questions surrounding all of the National League West teams. For the San Diego Padres, MLB.com writer Will Leitch posed several inquiries, mostly surrounding Fernando Tatis Jr.‘s second year, Manny Machado‘s potential bounceback season, but the item that caught my attention was his discussion on Eric Hosmer:
"“It’s looking less and less likely that Hosmer’s ever going to be the swing-angle stud we all thought he might be, but there’s no moving him from first base, not with six more years of him under contract. If the rest of the lineup takes big steps forward (and new acquisition Tommy Pham should help here), Hosmer’s averageness won’t hurt them all that much. But it’d be handy if he’d take a step forward himself.”"
Hosmer posted career numbers in the 2017 regular season with the Kansas City Royals and was one of the most coveted free agents on the market that offseason. I think many believed that he would return to Kansas City where he was comfortable, but he took the big payday and accelerated the Padres’ rebuild.
However, after two seasons, he’s posted a combined .259/.316/.412 line with 40 home runs and 168 RBI. While 2019 was a better year, his numbers are down from when he was with the Royals, and one could make a strong argument that he isn’t living up his massive contract. Most notably, his walks are down, and his strikeouts have increased.
Now over the age of 30, did Hosmer plateau in 2017? He’s under contract through the 2025 season, although he has three player options starting in 2023. His yearly salary will drop from $21 million to $13 million at that time, so if he has a career resurgence, there is some potential for him to garner a more significant payday elsewhere.
That said, he’s not going anywhere for the next three years, so the Padres need him to bounceback in 2020. Fangraphs projects him to slash .262/.320/.425 with 22 home runs and 90 RBI in 154 games accompanied by an 8.4 percent and 22.2 percent walk and strikeout rates, respectively.
And that would be a step in the right direction, not only for Hosmer but for the Padres overall success in the upcoming season.