Eric Hosmer, No Longer Needed in San Diego, Will Fill a Hole in Boston

© Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

True to his word, Chaim Bloom bought as well as sold at this year’s deadline. Filling one of his team’s biggest needs on the heels of Eric Hosmer’s no-trade-clause refusal to go to the nation’s capital as part of the Juan Soto megadeal, Bloom acquired the veteran first baseman, along with a pair of speedy outfield prospects, from the San Diego Padres in exchange for 2016 first-rounder Jay Groome. Still holding out hope for October baseball — Boston’s postseason odds currently sit at 33.4% — it was a move that improves their chances.

Hosmer isn’t the type of player who will lift a team on his shoulders and carry them to the promised land. A career .277/.336/.429 (107 wRC+) hitter whose present-season slash line dwells in that same neighborhood, he’s by no means a savior. After a blazing start to the season that saw him hit .382/.447/.579 through May 1, he’s cooled considerably, hitting just .235/.295/.309 since. Still, he’s a capable fielder and if he can recapture something of his early-season form, he represents an upgrade at his position. Red Sox first basemen have combined to slash a putrid .203/.278/.349 this year, and they’ve been even worse on the defensive side of the ball. At -10, they have the worst DRS in either league, and OAA doesn’t like them much better (-9).

Hosmer isn’t exactly Keith Hernandez with the glove, nor is he the same adroit defender who won four Gold Gloves in his glory days with the Kansas City Royals. But again, he represents an upgrade. While Bobby Dalbec, a converted third baseman, has at least been credible at the opposite corner of the infield, converted outfielder Franchy Cordero has been nothing short of cringeworthy. Acquired from Kansas City as part of last year’s Andrew Benintendi trade, Cordero has committed eight errors in just 316 first-base innings this year. Conversely, Hosmer has been charged with 14 errors over his last 2,122 innings. As much as they’ve needed a better bat, Boston needed someone capable of catching the baseball.

A recap of an Eric Hosmer trade wouldn’t be complete without addressing his signing with San Diego. Long considering a team leader, the 32-year-old former All-Star and World Series champion signed an eight-year, $144 million contract prior to the 2018 season, and it’s fair to say that he hasn’t lived up to it statistically. Much for that reason, Hosmer has been derided by Padres fans, as well as those who discount the value of clubhouse chemistry. How much that actually matters is a matter of opinion.

San Diego’s return in the deal is multi-fold. Along with moving the no-longer-needed Hosmer — Boston will reportedly pay only a small percentage of the $44 million remaining on his contract — they’ll receive Groome, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound pitching prospect who has thus far fallen short of expectations. Recently promoted to Triple-A, the 12th-overall pick in the 2016 draft had been No. 16 on our updated Red Sox Top Prospects list as a 40+ FV. Groome will now rank ninth in a San Diego system that is significantly thinner than it was pre-Soto swap.

The Red Sox are getting back prospects as well. Both are speedsters, and likewise not of the high-profile variety. Going to Boston are infielder Max Ferguson, a 2021 fifth-round pick who has 55 stolen bases in 60 attempts this year, and outfielder Corey Rosier, a 2021 12th-round pick with 33 steals in 37 attempts. Each has been playing with the High-A Fort Wayne TinCaps.

Ferguson was a plus defender at second base during his collegiate career and is now also seeing action at shortstop and in the outfield. Eric Longenhagen feels that the University of Tennessee product could grow into a versatile role player, but he will need to add strength to reach his ceiling. Rosier, who according to Longenhagen “plays with a real edge,” was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 12th round last year, then shipped to San Diego as part of November’s Adam Frazier trade.

Adding speed and athleticism to the system has been a Bloom objective. When the Red Sox dealt Hunter Renfroe to the Milwaukee Brewers last winter, one of the players they got in return was infield prospect David Hamilton, who has 49 stolen bases with Double-A Portland. With Ferguson and Rosier now in the organization, Boston has a trio of jackrabbits who have combined to swipe 137 bases in 150 tries. As for where they rank on our updated Red Sox list, Hamilton (40+ FV) is No. 19, Rosier (40 FV) is No. 28, and Ferguson (35+ FV) is No. 46.

Meanwhile, Boston’s top-rated prospect is directly impacted by the acquisition of Hosmer. Triston Casas is a 22-year-old left-handed-hitting first baseman who likely would have already debuted this season had he not missed close to two months with an ankle injury. Back in action with Triple-A Worcester since the middle of last month, Casas is viewed as an impact bat at the big-league level. That he plays the same position as Hosmer is a conundrum the team will need to sort out in the months to come.

As for the trade itself, which team ends up getting the better of it is a matter of perspective. If Hosmer helps the Red Sox reach the postseason, and/or one or both of the prospects pans out, we’ll think favorably of Boston, and it’s not as if they have to pay Hosmer much. Meanwhile, the Padres don’t necessarily need Groome to finally fulfill his potential. They mostly just needed to move on from Hosmer as they attempt a deep postseason run. The deal made sense for both sides.

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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1 year ago

The Sarris curse continues–dumped for less than nothing. Failure and defeat to Eric Hosmer, always.

1 year ago
Reply to  Anon21