Last night, things got crazy in the baseball world. Not for the San Francisco Giants, as their work in terms of roster building is over.
If you were on twitter last night, enjoying the ever rowdy #NBATwitter crowd’s discussions over how boring and drug out the NBA All-Star Skills Showcases were, then you were quickly interrupted with baseball news all up in your face.
It started with the Rays trading for C.J. Cron, DFA’ing 2017 All-Star Starter, Corey Dickerson, and then capping off their night with a trade of Jake Odorizzi for a non-top 30 Twins prospect. But it didn’t end there, and the next part had quite an affect (good or bad) on the NL West.
The San Diego Padres finalized a deal with former Royal’s first baseman, Eric Hosmer. That deal is for eight years and $144 million and is the largest contract in Padres history. The move will end up pushing Wil Myers to the outfield, which is quintessential Padres. But we’re not here to bag on the Padres. They have a bright future ahead of them, at least at the plate. But we are here to discuss how this affects the Giants and the NL West.
Short Answer: It doesn’t do much.
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Somewhere, Eric Hosmer is having someone go through Tech N9ne’s banger, “Welcome to the Mid-West,” and replace “Mid-West” with “Wild-West.” You think I’m kidding? Hosmer knows the hip-hop scene well, so I wouldn’t put it past him.
Hosmer walks in and is the fourth best first baseman in the NL West. At $144 million. Remember what I said about the Padres doing Padres things? Let’s take a look at how the now highest paid first baseman in the NL stack up in a few things. I didn’t include anyone from the Rockies. I’m not sure what they’re going to do there. Logan Morrison is an option in free agency, and so is Mark Reynolds, who was awesome for them last year. But at the same time, they still have Ian Desmond who they signed to play there last year. They also have a solid prospect in Ryan McMahon (#42 overall) who could finally make his breakout. But it’s a big question mark, so here are the four and their stats since 2013.*
* All stats provided here are courtesy of Fangraphs.com
So what do those stats tell us? First thing is that Hosmer is over-paid. But that was obvious. Hosmer hit .318 last year and I am willing to bet that he likely won’t do that again. That average is such a far departure from what he’s truly done over his career. But his production, in a much more hitter friendly ballpark than San Diego, is still below that of those ahead of him.
Despite Belt being in the league since 2011, Belt has played 160 less games. But Belt is only 12 homers behind him, in a pitcher friendly park. That’s a homer every 13 games which is realistic to achieve because over that same time period, Belt has averaged a homer every 7 games.
Now, with baseballsavant.com’s spray chart and ballpark overlay tool, Hosmer likely looses between 8-10 homers by playing in Petco. Now that makes it really interesting.
I know that Hosmer won’t be the highest paid first baseman in the division at some point. Bellinger and Goldschmidt hit free agency before Hosmer can get his opt out, and they most certainly will make more money than what Hosmer is commanding.
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Now, the thing to really look at is adding that bat to the Padres lineup. I definitely think it improves their offense, but you’d have to expect other good rookie bats like Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot to regress. The sophomore slump has been undefeated outside of Mike Trout and Kris Bryant, generational talents. Neither of Renfroe and Margot can be classified as that so forgive me for being pessimistic about their chances of avoiding the drop off.
The Padres will have a good offense. Expect that. But I also don’t expect them to do much in terms of actually winning games because that pitching staff is barely a triple-a staff level staff.
The point of this article was not necessarily to say that Hosmer is bad. Because he’s not. Eric Hosmer has been a top 15 first baseman in terms of WAR since 2013. So he’s not bad. He’s a solid addition to their lineup. But the problem with it all, is that offense wasn’t entirely the Padres’ issue in 2017. They just spent a lot of money to not address a need, which is weird. It’s also the Padres, so nothing they do really makes sense to me, a reason why they have no trophies to show for their decision making.
So does Eric Hosmer’s addition move the needle at all in the NL West? Not really. The Giants have easily been the biggest movers of the offseason in the NL West. The D-Backs haven’t done much, same with the Rockies, and then the Padres continually don’t address, arguably the most important phase of the game.
So again, I’m bullish on what this really does. It’s another good player in the NL West for sure, but the Padres are still 85+ game losers at this point. So return to your business folks. This isn’t much to gawk at.