The Boston Red Sox eventually passed on signing Eric Hosmer. So far that is being shown as the right move for both the short and long term.
Much of the off-season discussion on the Red Sox percolated around two high-profile and certainly high-priced free agents. Would it be Eric Hosmer, or would it be J.D. Martinez? For many a Red Sox fan, the solution would be rather simple and just sign both. I am sure the luxury tax bean counters would wipe the tears off their shades on that bill.
The drag on drama with both free agents eventually was resolved with the Red Sox signing JDM to a five-year and $110 MM contract. The contract contains a flurry of opt-outs and buy-outs. And Hosmer? Patience paid off for the left-hand hitting Hosmer. The final tally was eight years of servitude for a mere $144 MM that the Padres gifted Hosmer. I do not expect a go fund me for either.
The Red Sox made the right choice since Martinez brings right-hand power to the lineup and for fewer years. But what about first base? Hosmer would have played first, and Boston already had a resigned Mitch Moreland and a quite wealthy Hanley Ramirez scheduled to play first. Hosmer would have provided stellar defense and a potent bat. In conjunction with Martinez that would certainly catapult Boston’s offense up the ladder. Or would it?
The early results are in and the Red Sox – at least at this juncture – made the smart move. Hosmer has been the go-to guy at first for the Padres with 225 innings (through 4/29). The multiple Gold Glove winner has seen four others have limited roles at first account for 36 innings. Collectively the defense has been rather tepid with Hosmer only at 0.1 UZR and a zero on DRS. Still early with the metrics.
For the Red Sox, it has been a sharing opportunity with HanRam getting 125 innings and Moreland 128 innings. Moreland certainly has far better defensive credentials than Ramirez, but collectively they are in the same area as Hosmer with a -1 DRS and -0.4 UZR. But what about the hitting?
Checking in on Hosmer I wondered if my screen needed cleaning. Was a number missing? So far in 113 plate appearances, Hosmer has four RBI. The average is still comfortable at .281 and his .389 OBP is exceptional. But those RBI!
The Red Sox are paying their duo $29.250 MM this season compared to Hosmer’s $21 MM. But the collective production is not even close. The Red Sox are sitting at a 5/28/.306 line for first base with a 0.8 fWAR. The Padres at 2/6/.224 and a 0.3 fWAR. Thank you, Chase Headley, and a .079 average.
The early results show that Dave Dombrowski the right choice by not signing Hosmer and sticking with Moreland and Ramirez. Of course, having a DH is a big plus in the decision-making process. With Hosmer aboard the Red Sox would have been in a bind with Ramirez. Sit him? Play him? Trade him? Cut him? Then you have the long view.
When Ramirez contract expires either this season or next you have an opening at first base. Moreland also goes two years. Sam Travis could be the future and a far cheaper future. What about Rafael Devers? Talk around the campfire is Devers may eventually be at first.
Short and long-term the smart move was passing on Hosmer.