The Padres first baseman was surprised the Red Sox didn’t pursue him in free agency.
The Boston Red Sox entered free agency with a leadership problem and a hole at first base. Signing free agent Eric Hosmer would’ve satisfied both needs for Boston, who were rumored to be interested in the first baseman.
But as the dog days of free agency were as gloomy as a bitter cold day in Boston, the Red Sox distanced themselves from Hosmer. As his price tag increased, Boston’s interest decreased into eventual evaporation.
Hosmer, 28, had priced himself out of Boston, and the Red Sox felt Mitch Moreland was a cheap, efficient alternative. Moreland, 32, agreed to a two-year, $13 million deal with the Red Sox on Dec. 18, eliminating the Red Sox from the Hosmer sweepstakes.
Hosmer hit .318/.385/.498 with 31 doubles, 25 homers and 94 RBI in162 games last season.
Moreland hit .246/.326/.443 with 34 doubles, 22 homers and 79 RBI in 149 games last season.
The numbers are fairly similar.
Fast forward to February 18, and Hosmer lands an eight-year, $144 million deal with the San Diego Padres. One day later, J.D. Martinez officially signs a five-year, $110 million deal with the Red Sox.
The fit between the Red Sox and Hosmer wasn’t ever perfect considering Hanley Ramirez still shares time at first for about $23 million this season, and possibly $22 million next season. Additionally, the Red Sox remain hopeful prospect Sam Travis will blossom into the first baseman of the future.
Hosmer would’ve made a nice addition to the Red Sox lineup and clubhouse, but his bat doesn’t bring the power that Martinez’s can. In today’s MLB, a team can’t win without an ample amount of power hitting — something the Red Sox lacked last season.
Adding Hosmer helps the power problem, but doesn’t solve it. The Red Sox can’t pay him $144 million over eight years to be a leader in the clubhouse with some pop. It’s smart of Boston to re-sign Moreland on a short, inexpensive deal, rather than sign Hosmer to a lucrative, longterm deal.
However, Hosmer told close friend Deven Marrero he was surprised the Red Sox took themselves out of the sweepstakes for his services so early, per Mass Live’s Christopher Smith.
"“I mean, yeah,” Marrero said. “He obviously wanted to play for a contender. That’s what everybody wants to do. And play for this great city, this great organization, which has a winning tradition. I mean, he would have loved to be here just like everyone else for sure.”Marrero has said multiple times how he’d someday like to play on the same team with Hosmer."
And Boston would’ve loved him back. Unfortunately, it’s right place, wrong time for Hosmer and the Red Sox. Hosmer can now enjoy his huge payday as the staple of Padres baseball, while the Red Sox can use the money on Martinez and continue to improve the team. Everybody wins.
Marrero also mentioned he understands management’s decision, and is happy Moreland is back.
"“That’s just the way it goes,” Marrero said. “I’m happy for Mitch. I’m happy he’s back with us. Mitch is a great player. But it’s a business at the end of the day. Would I have loved Eric to be here? 110 percent. No question about it. But Mitch is a great player. We’re happy to have him here.”"
Marrero knew his friend would eventually receive the contract offer he was looking for, despite the market moving at a snail’s pace.
"“He’s the type of guy he wants what he wants,” Marrero said. “He’s going to get what he wants. He knows his value. He knew what he wanted. And that was it, man. He kept working hard every day. The same old guy every day. I mean, we lived together. We trained together every single day. So nothing was different. He just knew what he wanted and he was going to wait until he got it.”Marrero also added, “He got bullied there for a little bit in the beginning and stuff like that, but that didn’t faze him. He knew his worth. And he got what he deserved.”"
Hosmer deserved to cash in for big bucks, but the contract he received was an undisputed overpayment. While Hosmer produces consistent numbers, he eclipsed a .300 batting average and hit over 20 HR for only the second time in his career.
If the Red Sox use money to upgrade the team, it has to be for a bonafide stud who changes the entire complexion of the offense. Giancarlo Stanton should’ve been that guy, but the Yankees snatched him away from the Red Sox.
Can J.D. Martinez be that guy?
If he isn’t, at least he’ll be a power building block. From there, the Red Sox can use big money on Manny Machado or Bryce Harper in this year’s upcoming free agency class, should they need to.
But throwing money at Hosmer to elevate Boston’s offense is like adding the last piece to a puzzle that simply doesn’t fit.