The Milwaukee Brewers made a big splash earlier this week, signing Rhys Hoskins to a two-year contract with a mutual option for a third season. This deal includes an opt-out clause after the first year. Before he signed, the SF Giants made a "late play" for Hoskins according to Jon Heyman of The New York Post.
SF Giants made a "late play" for new Milwaukee Brewers first baseman
Adding Hoskins would have been an imperfect fit for San Francisco. That said, many of the position players in free agency are imperfect fits, so it is a tough market to upgrade the roster. Realistically, the opportunity to bolster the roster should have been done in the prior two offseasons.
It bears mentioning that the Hoskins deal is very much in the Giants wheelhouse in terms of risk tolerance. It is not a long-term deal but gives the player a chance to re-enter free agency after the 2024 season if he performs. There is an incentive for Hoskins to perform well in 2024.
If this deal sounds familiar, it is not too dissimilar to the two-year, $36 million pact Michael Conforto signed with San Francisco last offseason. Like Hoskins, Conforto missed an entire season before inking a new deal, so there is some risk with how a player responds after such a long layoff. Conforto seemed a little rusty in the early going last year and was unable to reproduce the numbers from earlier in his career. The Brewers hope that it is a different outcome for Hoskins.
At the beginning of the month, we looked at whether Hoskins was a fit for the Giants. I should preface this by saying that his bat makes just about every lineup better. The right-handed hitter has tallied an .846 OPS with a 13.5 percent walk rate while reaching at least 20 home runs in four of six seasons.
The Giants badly need that type of production. The offensive fit is not the issue. The issue is where to play him on defense. The 30-year-old should only see time at first base and DH. He has experience in the outfield, but he has not appeared there since the 2018 season. There is a good reason for that.
Of course, the Giants already are covered at both first base and DH. Wilmer Flores and LaMonte Wade Jr. will share duties at first base, whereas those two will likely see time at DH along with Conforto. Without moving any of those three, there are just not that many at-bats for adding someone like Hoskins. The front office knows this too, so signing the veteran first baseman would have likely resulted led to a corresponding move.
As currently constructed, the Giants' roster is lacking in athleticism and versatility. Adding Hoskins would have not helped in that regard.
I can understand why the Giants targeted Hoskins before he signed. Offensively, he checks off a lot of boxes that they like and on contract terms that they covet. They were not as serious of a suitor as Milwaukee, but it is hard to make the case that it would have been a good fit on a roster that is already defensively limited and too slow.