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Chicago Cubs and Eric Hosmer Reportedly Close to Agreement (UPDATE: In Agreement)

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UPDATE: It’s happening, according to Jesse Rogers. Eric Hosmer for the Cubs.

The signing details will be fascinating, because Hosmer’s contract with the Padres – which they are paying – lasts for another three years. Will the Cubs have to spend more than the big league minimum to entice Hosmer to pick them, given the possibility that he’ll be stuck with this team for three years, even signing for just one? Will he get a no-trade clause? And so on.

Hosmer is set to take the first look as the Cubs’ full-time first baseman, although the low-cost nature of the signing and the presence of Matt Mervis *SHOULD* mean the Cubs don’t need to give Hosmer a particularly long leash if he’s not producing.

Also, for what it’s worth:

  • Chicago Cubs first baseman in 2022: 0.232/0.304/0.348/86 wRC+
  • Eric Hosmer in 2022: .268/.334/.382/104 wRC+

The Cubs will have to open a 40-man slot to finalize the Hosmer deal.

*original post follows*

Last week’s reports had me thinking there was a lot of smoke here, and this weekend Jon Heyman indicated there was progress. So it seemed inevitable for a while: Eric Hosmer and the Cubs are close to a deal.

The first baseman free agent is getting his contract paid out by the Padres, so if the Cubs complete this deal, they’ll only be on the hook for the league minimum ($700,000), unless they have to offer some sort of sweetener.

The Cubs need a first baseman capable of providing AT LEAST the league’s average offense, and that’s what Hosmer can provide, along with a below average mitt and extreme ground ball rate (after the Cubs worked so much to diminish theirs…). Ultimately, the Cubs just need someone there who can hold the fort until Matt Mervis is ready and/or who can coordinate with Mervis on starts. Hosmer, also left-handed, is not ideal for this second half, although there is a DH slot available.

This all sounds negative, but I don’t hate the idea of ​​the Cubs signing Hosmer. As I wrote before:

I know Hosmer isn’t among our favorite first base picks for the Cubs, even in a limited market, but let me take this opportunity to put the positivity hat on and talk about why it might not be the worst play in the world:

1.) Hosmer doesn’t have a big bat for a first baseman, but he still has an above average bat. Hosmer was exactly a league average bat for wRC+ in his five seasons with San Diego, but in the last three seasons he was actually 0.271/0.335/0.407/107 wRC+. He doesn’t provide much power as he’s more of a contact guy, but you wonder if he would get a modest boost with the new turn rules.

2.) Hosmer is a left-hander, who is a right-handed .287/.353/.457/119 wRC+ career hitter. This one cuts both ways, because ideally you’d have a right-hander at first base to (eventually) platoon with Matt Mervis and/or take some of his load off while he adjusts to the big leagues. But on the other hand, the Cubs could just use another left-handed bat. Mervis *will* be a left-handed stick for them eventually, but you’d hate to rush him if it wasn’t necessary.

3.) Hosmer’s ugly contract situation over the years has probably skewed our perception of him as a baseball player a bit. The contract went south almost immediately, but that’s a separate issue from “can this guy improve his lineup?” And now the contract is not a problem.

4.) Which, by the way, is Hosmer’s biggest advantage: since he’s still being paid by the Padres for THREE more years, any team that signs him is on the hook just for the big league minimum ($700,000) and theoretically, you could keep it at that price for all three seasons. If Hosmer is still a useful player – even in a part-time role – he’s a pretty valuable guy to have on a minimal league deal. At age 33, it’s possible Hosmer goes downhill too quickly for anything beyond 2023 to matter, but then again, the FATHERS are the ones who have to pay him. So, if it doesn’t work out in 2023, no harm done. You release it and move on.

5.) For the Cubs, adding Hosmer – instead of spending, say, $10 million on Mancini – would mean that the Cubs have over $9 million available to spend on another bat or another reliever or even a trade piece that some team wants to move. If the Cubs have a budget (let’s face it, they do), then it could be a situation where Hosmer + Another Guy > Mancini.

Hosmer is also seen by many as a good leader at the clubhouse, and the guy doesn’t give up. There’s legitimately good stuff here, though that depends on what else the Cubs do post-Hosmer.

Also, I suppose it’s important to remember that because of the cost, the Cubs really don’t need to be beholden to Hosmer if it just isn’t working. It’s almost like a resignation request.

Oh, another thing. Eric Hosmer’s projection for 2023 on ZiPS is 0.286/0.340/0.431/107 OPS+, which, yes, looks about right. An update to what the Cubs envisioned having at first base (non-Mervis edition), but not an impact bat. But it won’t block Matt Mervis either, so… shrug? He is well? It’s still fine.