Eric Hosmer wasn’t really worth the contract he signed last winter, and the San Diego Padres are finding it out already.
As the Kansas City Royals looked toward a rebuild, they had to let much of the core group that ledt to two World Series and one championship. Eric Hosmer was one of those guys, and he signed an eight-year, $144 million deal with the San Diego Padres last offseason.
With a loaded farm system that’s in line to bring major league fruit soon, the Padres probably envision Hosmer as a veteran leader for a future contending team. As the 2018 season winds down, Hosmer has played in 152 games with a .250/.315/.394 slash-line, 17 home runs and 65 RBI. He’s third on the team in each of the latter two categories, while being good for 6 Defensive Runs Saved at first base (via FanGraphs).
Even with 25 home runs in each of his last two seasons with the Royals, Hosmer has always been a ground ball-heavy hitter (54.3 percent career ground ball rate). But he has taken that a career-high level this year, with a 60.1 percent ground ball rate, while also striking out at a career-high rate of 21.2 percent.
A couple weeks ago Hosmer cited a desire to increase his launch angle, during a stretch where he hit four home runs in seven games. But since that little power surge ended, he has one extra base hit and zero RBI over eight games (going into Tuesday).
The Padres are paying Hosmer $21 million this year, and each through 2022. He can opt-out of his contract at that point, or collect $13 million per year from 2023-2025. He’ll turn 29 in October, and he’ll be nearly 36 years old upon fulfilling the entire eight-year deal. If he isn’t supplying adequate power numbers now, in his relative prime, crossing into 30s in a home park that suppresses offense is sure to bring further erosion.
The Padres should have easily seen that Hosmer has never been a premium offensive player at a position where most teams expect to get premium production. Over the next seven full seasons, he better be a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman and an exceptional veteran presence. But even then, Hosmer’s contract is already the albatross everyone envisioned it would be.