Starved for pitching with Jacob deGrom set to begin the season on the injured list and Max Scherzer potentially sidelined for Opening Day, the Mets were intrigued by the possibility of adding Paddack. The Padres, meanwhile, were hopeful to gain some payroll flexibility by moving Hosmer. But the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on those moving pieces, and the deal is off and unlikely to be resurrected, a source said.
One version of the proposed trade, as first reported by The Athletic, would have seen Paddack, Hosmer, reliever Emilio Pagán and cash going to the Mets for Smith. Such a deal would provide the Mets with a much-needed starting pitcher, albeit one who produced a 5.07 ERA last season. The Mets would have also taken on the veteran Hosmer but receive money to offset part of the $60 million he's owed over the next four seasons.
The return was Smith, a well-liked player within the Mets' clubhouse who doesn't have an obvious path to playing time. The Mets intend to find Smith at-bats at his natural position of first base, as well as at designated hitter and in left field. But they probably won't be able to play him every day -- given their commitments to Pete Alonso, Robinson Canó, J.D. Davis and Mark Canha.
The Padres, with a talented but flawed roster, have been looking to move Hosmer dating back to last summer's Trade Deadline, in an effort to find payroll flexibility. Hosmer, who signed an eight-year deal in 2018, arrived at Padres camp on Saturday and met with team officials before going through his usual workout routine at the Peoria Sports Complex.
"It’s just the same as last year during the All-Star break,” Hosmer said. “Show up to work, and if someone says anything otherwise, we’ll go from there. … It’s all part of being a professional, all part of being in this business, being in this industry.”
The Padres remain optimistic about a bounce-back season for Paddack and team decision-makers were initially reluctant to part with the right-hander. But that changed recently, as top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore has made a strong push for the roster, while the newly signed Nick Martinez has essentially sewn up a rotation spot. As such, San Diego believes it would be dealing from a position of strength.
The Mets right now will wait and try to acquire pitching later in the season. Although deGrom's right shoulder injury and Scherzer's right hamstring tweak have the Mets concerned, general manager Billy Eppler said on Friday that he feels "really good about the depth that we have." That depth most prominently includes Tylor Megill, David Peterson and Trevor Williams, all of whom are now candidates to make the season-opening rotation.
As for Smith, he has rebounded from a down year in 2021 to enjoy significant success this spring.
"When you're a good player like Dom, I think you're used to having different scenarios discussed," said Mets manager Buck Showalter, who acknowledged that he was paying attention to the rumors. "I look at it … that it's nice to be liked or wanted or whatever, if that's the case. But just because you view it that way, doesn't mean he views it that way. I might look at it differently. But bad players don't get talked about much, right?"
With Smith staying put in New York, Hosmer remains the Padres’ starting first baseman, while Jurickson Profar and the newly acquired Matt Beaty vie for playing time in left field. In his four years in San Diego, Hosmer has underperformed what was then a franchise-record contract, posting a .264/.323/.415 slash line. But he's beloved in the Padres' clubhouse and currently slated to slot into the middle of their Opening Day lineup.
"I've been hearing Eric Hosmer rumors since before I even got here," said Padres manager Bob Melvin. "It's that time of spring. It's been a spring where there's been a lot of movement, so there's naturally going to be some talk. With a few days left, there's going to be more talk. They're just rumors."