SAN DIEGO -- First, Eric Hosmer was headed to Washington. Now, he has headed to Boston. Either way, his Padres tenure officially came to a close as part of the Padres’ frenzied machinations on Tuesday morning.
In a wild Deadline day turn of events, Hosmer invoked his no-trade clause to reject a potential deal from the Padres to the Nationals. Hosmer was originally part of the eight-player blockbuster that sent Juan Soto and Josh Bell to San Diego.
Padres get: LHP Jay Groome
Red Sox get: 1B Eric Hosmer, 2B Max Ferguson (Padres' No. 11 prospect), OF Corey Rosier (Padres' No. 26 prospect), cash
Hosmer is owed $39 million from 2023-25, and according to sources, the Padres will pay a very sizeable portion of that salary. They simply didn’t have much room left for Hosmer, having landed Soto and Bell, said Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller said.
“We just felt like, if we were able to do some of these things that were going to make us a better team going forward, the mix wasn’t quite going to be there, the playing time wasn’t quite going to quite be there,” Preller said. “When we saw limited opportunity, with what he's meant to us, it’s probably just better as a fresh start and move forward. That was all a part of that Hosmer decision.”
The Padres discussed different versions of the trade with the Red Sox, including several in which they would’ve taken on a smaller portion of Hosmer’s remaining contract. But in all those deals, the Padres would’ve given up higher quality prospects, sources said.
Now, the Padres seem destined to come in above of the Competitive Balance Tax threshold, a surprise development considering they’ve spent the past couple months looking to stay under that number. Preller credited chairman Peter Seidler for his commitment and investment. At some point Tuesday, as the Padres attempted to bring Soto on board, it became an inevitability of the day’s dealings.
“There were different versions where we were getting more money back in certain deals,” Preller said. “There were different versions where we were going to get under the CBT. There’s definitely benefits to doing that. We walked through all of that. Ultimately, we felt like, this time, for what we were doing and how it worked out, that it was more important to land on getting the roster in a certain spot. And, ultimately if we're north of that [CBT], that was a decision that we made that we're comfortable with.”
Hosmer's no-trade protection stems from the eight-year, $144 million deal he signed with the Padres in February 2018, then the largest contract in franchise history. He had a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the deal, followed by more limited no-trade protection in the remaining years.
A four-time Gold Glove winner, All-Star and World Series champ in Kansas City, Hosmer mostly underwhelmed in San Diego. In parts of five seasons, he posted a .737 OPS and was worth 3.9 wins above replacement according to Baseball-Reference. In 90 games this season, Hosmer is slashing .272/.336/.391.
Despite his struggles, Hosmer was clearly beloved within the San Diego clubhouse.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Fernando Tatis Jr. “Since they called me up or even before that, Hosmer was the guy that put me under his wing, take care of me all the time on the road trips. He’s like a father for me in this game. He did a great job for me, and I definitely love that guy. It’s always sad he’s leaving, but it’s part of the business, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Added Manny Machado: “You get one of the best hitters in the game, but you lose one of the best teammates around in the league. … We love Hoz. He’s definitely going to be missed. We’ll always be rooting for him, and I know he’ll be rooting for us. It’s just bittersweet.”
Both Ferguson and Rosier are solid pieces. They’re similar players, in that both boast excellent speed and a solid approach at the plate without much pop. But both are 22 and their ceiling is somewhat limited. Neither factored prominently into the team’s long-term plans, and the Padres are clearly going all-in to upgrade their current big league roster.
In the meantime, Groome, a 23-year-old former first-round pick, could be a solid reclamation project for the Padres’ farm system to take on. He owns a 4.46 ERA in five Minor League seasons.