It only took until mid-February and for spring camps to open all across Florida and Arizona, but finally there has been some movement in the free agent market.
None of those moves over the weekend were bigger than the splash that the Padres made, signing Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million contract. That deal smashes the record for the largest free agent contract that the Padres have ever given out, previously owned by Wil Myers at $83 million. The contract also includes an opt-out clause for Hosmer after the 2022 season.
The Padres had long been considered one of the favorites to land Hosmer and reportedly had a seven-year deal on the table very early on in the offseason. Eventually, it sounds like it came down to them and the Royals, with the fact that the Padres were willing to add on an eighth year as the final factor that pushed them over the top.
Speaking of Myers, with Hosmer in tow, he’ll be forced to shift back to the outfield while Hosmer becomes the club’s everyday first baseman. It’s worth noting that the only two seasons that Myers has made it through without injury issues have been the two where he was the regular first baseman, so there is some injury risk with his shift back to the outfield.
The move also means there will now be a competition for the final starting spot in the outfield between Hunter Renfroe and Jose Pirela, both of whom had been penciled in for starting roles before the Hosmer signing. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported late Sunday that the Padres have received increased trade interest in Renfroe following the Hosmer signing, and there’s a chance that he could be dealt to bolster other areas of the team.
Hosmer hit the free agent market at exactly the right time for him, coming off of the finest season of his professional career. He played in all 162 games for the Royals in 2017, slashing .318/.385/.498 with 25 homers, 94 RBI and six stolen bases. While typically a move to Petco Park would be a massive downgrade for any offensive player, coming from Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City actually makes it a pretty lateral move for Hosmer.
While the Padres don’t appear ready to compete for a postseason berth yet, they have plenty of young talent on the roster and could take a major step soon. Since Hosmer is only 28-years-old, they believe that he’ll still be in his prime when the Padres’ window to compete for a championship opens up.
Rays on the Move
The Padres weren’t the only team making headlines over the weekend, as the Rays made a slew of moves on Saturday, some of which left fans scratching their collective heads.
First, they acquired C.J. Cron from the Angels in exchange for a player to be named later. This makes sense, as the 28-year-old is an offensive upgrade to the Rays offense and he’s only set to make $2.3 million in 2018. His signing probably means that the Rays are now out on possibly re-signing Logan Morrison who clubbed 38 home runs for the team in 2017 and is still seeking employment.
The curious part of the move, was afterwards they designated Corey Dickerson for assignment. The 28-year-old was a first-time All-Star for the Rays in 2017 and slashed .282/.325/.490 with 27 homers and 62 RBI in 629 plate appearances. Granted, his production fell off a cliff in the second half, but to just cut ties with him altogether, especially for a team with a sketchy offense, seemed like a questionable move.
Not long after that move came down the pipe, it was announced that the Rays had dealt starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for minor league shortstop Jermaine Palacios. There were also rumblings that Dickerson may have been going to the Twins in that potential deal, which would have made a considerable amount of sense and could have justified why he was DFA’d early in the day.
Once things became official though, there was no Dickerson to be had, it was a straight swap of Odorizzi for Palacios.
The Twins come out as big-time winners in this deal, as Odorizzi helps to add much-needed stability atop a rotation that will be without ace Ervin Santana at the start of the season. They were able to add an impact starter without having to overpay through free agency.
As far as Dickerson goes, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll be out of work for long. It’s just crazy to me, that on the same day that Eric Hosmer inked his $144 million contract with the Padres, coming off the finest season of his career at age-27, that Dickerson, who also was coming off of his best season at age-27 (and posted a higher OPS+ than Hosmer even), gets designated for assignment.
I’m not saying that they’re necessarily comparable players, or that Dickerson deserves the type of deal that Hosmer landed, because I’m not. Simply noting that they had similar offensive seasons, yet one broke the bank with a franchise-record contract while the other was sent packing. Quite the stark difference.
Quick Hits: The Giants signed Tony Watson to a two-year, $7 million contract with a player option for a third season. Incentives could run the total as high as $14 million over two years and $21 million over three seasons… The Red Sox officially re-signed Eduardo Nunez to a one-year, $4 million contract. The deal also includes a $4 million player option for 2019… The Twins signed Anibal Sanchez to a one-year, $2.5 million deal… The Mets officially announced Jason Vargas’ two-year, $16 million contract… The Angels signed Chris Carter to a minor league contract with a spring training invite… The Indians brought back Rajai Davis on a minor league pact.. Joe Mauer indicated that he’d like to continue his career with the Twins after his contract runs out following the 2018 season… The Mets are one of the clubs interested in free agent right-hander Kevin Siegrist… The Tigers watched Chris Tillman throw on Saturday and are one of the teams in the running to sign the veteran hurler with a decision expected soon… Felix Hernandez felt great after his first bullpen session of the spring… Alex Wood was able to throw a bullpen session on Saturday and his sprained ankle isn’t expected to cause problems going forward… The Marlins outrighted Severino Gonzalez to Triple-A… The Braves are closing in on a minor league deal with Peter Moylan… Erasmo Ramirez will be shut down for the next two weeks due to a minor right lat strain… The Rockies have remained in contact with free agent outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.