Chicago Cubs and Eric Hosmer Reportedly Close to a Deal (UPDATE: In Agreement)
UPDATE: It’s happening, according to Jesse Rogers. Eric Hosmer to the Cubs.
Eric Hosmer is in agreement with the Cubs, sources tell ESPN. @JonHeyman mentioned they were close yesterday.
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) January 4, 2023
The specifics of the signing will be fascinating because Hosmer’s deal with the Padres — which they’re paying — runs for three more years. Will the Cubs have to spend more than the major league minimum to entice Hosmer to pick them up, given the possibility that he will remain with that team for three years, even if he signs for just one ? Will he get a no-trade clause? So on and so forth.
Hosmer figures to get the first look as the Cubs’ full-time first baseman, though the low-cost nature of the signing and the presence of Matt Mervis *SHOULD* mean the Cubs shouldn’t give Hosmer a chain especially long if he does not produce.
Also, for what it’s worth:
Chicago Cubs First Base in 2022: .232/.304/.348/86 wRC+ Eric Hosmer in 2022: .268/.334/.382/104 wRC+
The Cubs will need to clear a 40-man roster spot to finalize the Hosmer deal.
*original post follows*
The reports last week made me think there was a lot of smoke here, and then this weekend, Jon Heyman showed that there was progress. So this has felt inevitable for a while: Eric Hosmer and the Cubs are close to a deal.
The free agent first baseman is paying out his contract from the Padres, so if the Cubs complete this deal, they’ll only be on the hook for the league minimum ($700,000) unless they have to offer some sort of sweetener .
Eric Hosmer, Cubs are close to a deal
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 3, 2023
The Cubs need a first baseman capable of providing ALL of the league-average offense, and that’s what Hosmer can provide, along with a below-average handle and an extreme ball rate (since the Cubs worked so hard to lower their … ). Ultimately, the Cubs just need someone who can hold down the fort until Matt Mervis is ready and/or who can coordinate with Mervis in starts. Hosmer, a fellow lefty, isn’t ideal for that second half, though he has the DH spot available.
This all sounds negative, but I don’t hate the idea of the Cubs signing Hosmer. As I wrote before:
I know Hosmer isn’t among our favorite first base options for the Cubs, even in a limited market, but let me take this opportunity to put on The Positivity Hat and talk about why may not be the worst move in the world:
1.) Hosmer doesn’t have a great bat for a first baseman, but he still has an above-average bat. Hosmer was exactly a league average wRC+ bat in his five seasons with San Diego, but the last three seasons he was actually at .271/.335/.407/107 wRC+. He doesn’t provide much power, as he’s more of a contact guy, but you wonder if he’d get a modest boost from the new shift rules.
2.) Hosmer is a lefty who has a career .287/.353/.457/119 wRC+ hitting righties. That goes both ways, because ideally you’d be right at first base to (eventually) platoon with Matt Mervis and/or take some of his load off while he adjusts to the big leagues. But on the other hand, the Cubs could just use another lefty bat. Mervis *will* be a lefty bat for them eventually, but you’d hate to rush him if you don’t have to.
3.) Hosmer’s ugly contract situation over the years probably skewed our perception of him as a baseball player a bit. The contract went south almost immediately, but that’s a separate issue from “can this guy improve your lineup?” And now the contract is not an issue.
4.) Which, by the way, is the biggest plus for Hosmer: because he’s still being paid by the Padres for THREE more years, any team that signs him is only on the hook for the league minimum big ($700k) and you could theoretically keep him at that price for all three seasons. If Hosmer is still a useful player — even in a part-time role — that’s a pretty valuable guy for a league minimum deal. At 33, it’s possible that Hosmer will decline too quickly for anything beyond 2023 to matter, but, again, the PADRES are the ones who have to pay him. So if it doesn’t work in 2023, no harm, no foul. You release it and move on.
5.) For the Cubs, adding Hosmer — rather than spending, say, $10 million on Mancini — will mean the Cubs have over $9 million available to spend on another bat or a reliever other or even a trade piece that a team wants to move. If the Cubs have a budget (let’s be real, they do), then it could be a Hosmer + Other Guy > Mancini situation.
Hosmer is also seen by many as a good leader in the clubhouse, and the guy doesn’t pan out. There are legitimate good things here, though it will depend on what else the Cubs do after Hosmer.
Also, I suppose it’s important to remember that, because of the cost, the Cubs really shouldn’t be dealing Hosmer if it just doesn’t work out. It’s almost like a waiver request.
Oh, one more thing. Eric Hosmer’s 2023 ZiPS projection is .286/.340/.431/107 OPS+, which, yes, sounds pretty fair. An upgrade on what the Cubs thought they had at first base (non-Mervis edition), but not an impact bat. But it also won’t block Matt Mervis, so … shrug? is it good It’s still good.