Posted on December 6, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The San Diego Padres are one of the last teams you’d expect to sign one of the top free agents on the open market this winter. But that may be about to change. Not only are the Padres one of seven finalist for Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani, but they also have serious interest in free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer. There’s nothing to indicate that Hosmer is anywhere close to signing with a team this winter. But the Padres are acting like they’re going to make a serious effort to sign him.
On the surface, the Padres don’t even need a first baseman. Wil Myers is poised to be San Diego’s long-term first baseman after signing an extension with the club last January. But they appear to have interest in Hosmer. Recent reports even indicate that the team has asked Myers if he’s be comfortable moving to the outfield. The Padres wouldn’t have broached the subject with Myers unless they planned on making an honest effort to sign Hosmer.
Myers has settled in at first base since being traded to the Padres in 2015. But he spent the early part of his career with the Tampa Bay Rays in the outfield. He could easily move back to the outfield, alongside young talents like Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe. Even if the Padres can land Ohtani, they could make room for Myers in the outfield. With Myers onboard with the idea, the Padres appear free to pursue Hosmer if they’d like.
Of course, whether the Padres can afford Hosmer is another matter. The $83 million contract Myers signed last January is the biggest in franchise history. San Diego would have to at least double that amount to sign Hosmer. Such a move would be shockingly out of character for the Padres.
On the other hand, Myers is the only player San Diego has signed to a sizable, long-term contract. The Padres may actually be able to afford both Hosmer and Myers with a roster filled with young players who are not yet making a significant amount of money.
If the Padres were to sign Hosmer, he and Myers could anchor their lineup for many years to come. Hosmer could also provide some much-needed veteran leadership for an otherwise young team. Hosmer’s clubhouse presence and experience winning a World Series with the Royals in 2015 are likely factors in why the Padres are interested in him but not any other first baseman on the open market.
Of course, there could be over half a dozen teams that share San Diego’s interest in Hosmer. Even if they can afford him financially, the Padres would have to convince a player who’s accustomed to winning to sign with a rebuilding team. However, the fact that the Padres asked Myers to switch positions means they’re serious about Hosmer. As free agency picks up over the next few weeks, don’t be surprised to see the Padres emerge as genuine contenders to sign the best first baseman on the market.