On Sunday, the San Diego Padres sent three prospects, including their No. 5 prospect Tucupita Marcano, to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for MLB hits leader Adam Frazier, who can play second base and the outfield.
It is believed that Frazier’s path for regular playing time would be at second base, his natural position, which is currently occupied by Jake Cronenworth most nights.
But Cronenworth wouldn’t sacrifice too much playing time since the team could slide him to first base.
Who will play less, then?
Current first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Hosmer Doesn’t Fit In The Padres’ Plans
The other avenue for Frazier to play would be stealing some plate appearances from regular right fielder Wil Myers.
Myers hasn’t been the stud he was in 2020, but his .773 OPS isn’t actually so bad to consider him a liability.
Hosmer, on the other hand, is quickly falling out of favor with the franchise.
His OPS for the year is at a paltry .705.
His current triple slash line is .265/.327/.378.
That slugging percentage is usually associated with a utility player, not a regular first baseman.
After some tangible improvements in 2020, Hosmer is back to his worm-killing ways, hitting 2.41 groundballs for every fly ball.
His 56.9 percent groundball percentage is basically what stops him from being better, but at this point, this is who he is: his career GB% is 54.4.
Eric Hosmer if there was a groundball derby pic.twitter.com/ZTVhKsdqL1
— max 🦧 (tone setter) (@JURlCKSONPROFAR) July 13, 2021
Judging by weighted Runs Created Plus, or wRC+, Hosmer has been a slightly below-average hitter in three of the four years he has been in San Diego.
In wRC+, 100 is considered average production: Hosmer’s marks have been 95 in 2018, 91 in 2019, 127 in 2020, and 96 so far in 2021.
The 2020 season should be considered a small sample size alert, so that 127 wRC+ should be taken with a grain of salt.
A Negative Asset
If we put them all together, it’s very easy to conclude that Hosmer is a league-average hitter making $18 million per season.
That’s a lot to pay for an average first baseman, who is a good defender but not in a premium, up-the-middle position.
Before the 2018 season, Hosmer signed an eight-year, $144 million pact that will cover him until 2025, if he doesn’t opt out after 2022.
With so little offensive production, it’s highly unlikely he gets out of his current deal and will likely stay in San Diego unless he is traded.
Even if they don’t say it publicly, San Diego is surely second-guessing the mammoth deal they gave to Hosmer, and the long commitment, too.
They would like to trade him, but who would want an overpaid 31-year-old first baseman who doesn’t hit all that well?
There is talk that San Diego would need to do something crazy to get rid of Hosmer’s contract, like attaching one of their top-four prospects, the ones they have been reluctant to give away in every deal they have negotiated since last year.
It looks like if Eric Hosmer goes, so does one of the Padres’ top four prospects.
That’s what is being discussed.
— Kevin Acee (@sdutKevinAcee) July 27, 2021
But it’s very clear they are in an uncomfortable situation with their high-priced first baseman.