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Sarah's Take: Hosmer could alter NL West race

MLB.com

Saturday night, the Padres signed first baseman Eric Hosmer to an eight-year deal, multiple sources have confirmed. The deal will average $20 million a year for the first five years and has an opt-out clause after five years, according to multiple reports. Signing Hosmer changes the complexion of the Padres and the National League West. Since the opening of Petco Park in 2004 until now, the Padres have struggled offensively. The 28-year-old left-handed-hitting first baseman gives the Padres a legitimate power threat in the middle of the lineup.

Hosmer was a member of a young core that enabled the Royals to win a World Series championship in 2015. Most baseball-knowledgeable people thought the Royals wouldn't break up that core, but they haven't been competitive either in '16 or '17. The Royals are a small-market team, so they couldn't retain the services of Hosmer, who had a brilliant '17, with a career-high batting average of .318 and 25 home runs.

Saturday night, the Padres signed first baseman Eric Hosmer to an eight-year deal, multiple sources have confirmed. The deal will average $20 million a year for the first five years and has an opt-out clause after five years, according to multiple reports. Signing Hosmer changes the complexion of the Padres and the National League West. Since the opening of Petco Park in 2004 until now, the Padres have struggled offensively. The 28-year-old left-handed-hitting first baseman gives the Padres a legitimate power threat in the middle of the lineup.

Hosmer was a member of a young core that enabled the Royals to win a World Series championship in 2015. Most baseball-knowledgeable people thought the Royals wouldn't break up that core, but they haven't been competitive either in '16 or '17. The Royals are a small-market team, so they couldn't retain the services of Hosmer, who had a brilliant '17, with a career-high batting average of .318 and 25 home runs.

For a long time, the Padres needed a power hitter with an acceptable batting average to be a factor in the NL West. Adrian Gonzalez, their native son, proved that a left-handed power-hitting first baseman could be successful at Petco Park. However, during an ownership change in 2010, the Padres traded Gonzalez to the Red Sox. Since then, the Padres have lacked a consistent power source.

Video: Padres reportedly sign Hosmer to eight-year deal

In 2017, the Padres scored the fewest runs in the Major Leagues. Everyone who followed the Padres knew their offensive production needed to improve to be competitive, but many people thought the organization probably wouldn't have the financial resources to obtain the necessary hitter to improve the club's offensive production. During this past offseason, not many trades occurred. The Padres appeared to be satisfied with their youth movement. It appeared unlikely they would compete for a playoff berth.

Wil Myers, 2013 American League Rookie of the Year for the Rays, is coming off a rough '17 offensive performance. Although he hit 30 home runs, his batting average of .243 and his on-base percentage of .328 contributed to San Diego's offensive struggles, while his 180 strikeouts hurt many rallies. Although he was originally a right fielder, the Padres tried to make him a first baseman in '17. The experiment didn't work well for the Padres or Myers. The acquisition of Hosmer will enable Myers to go back to the outfield.

The Padres also obtained right-handed-hitting third baseman Chase Headley from the Yankees. Headley, who has been a Padre before, will help the offensive production even though he doesn't have much power. He will stabilize the hot corner, which has been an issue for the club. Now the Padres have a potent middle of the lineup with Hosmer, Myers and Headley.

With their improved offensive production, the Padres should be able to handle their young pitching staff's growing pains. Hosmer's defensive skills will help the Padres improve what has been a below-average defense. With improved glove work at the corners, the young pitchers won't need to face extra hitters.

Clayton Richard highlights the Padres' starting rotation. At 34, Richard knows how to attack the strike zone. At times in 2017, he was brilliant, but at other times, he struggled and was undermined by his defense. The addition of Tyson Ross, coming off a poor season with the Rangers, should help San Diego's starting rotation.

With the starters set to have a easier time in 2017, it should lessen the stress on the bullpen. The Padres have a great closer in Brad Hand, but getting the ball to him in the ninth inning with a lead was a problem last year. If they can score more and commit fewer errors, the Padres might not have to expose the weak underbelly of the team -- the middle relief -- as much as the past few years.

With Hosmer on board, the Padres will add even more intrigue to what already figures to be a highly competitive NL West in 2018.

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at sarahmorris27@gmail.com.

San Diego Padres, Eric Hosmer