How Red Sox benefit from having Eric Hosmer and Triston Casas on roster together

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 4: Triston Casas #36 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after a win against the Texas Rangers on September 4, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 4: Triston Casas #36 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after a win against the Texas Rangers on September 4, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Alex Cora revealed Eric Hosmer’s heartfelt message for Triston Casas ahead of his Red Sox debut

Even though they both play first base, it sounds like Eric Hosmer couldn’t be happier that he and Triston Casas are on the same team.

According to Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, the veteran infielder was eager to greet the rookie when he arrived at Fenway on Sunday for his major-league debut:

"“Hos saw him in my office, he comes in. He caught my attention with what he said: ‘It was meant to be for me to be here and mentor you.’”"

Anyone who’s followed Casas’ burgeoning professional career won’t be surprised by the warm welcome. Despite their significant age gap, he and Hosmer go way back. They both attended Florida’s American Heritage High School. Casas trained with Hosmer’s brother and then got to know the man who’d become his teammate.

Their preexisting relationship definitely factored into the front office’s decision to make the trade. The Sox acquired Hosmer from the San Diego Padres at the August 2 trade deadline. As with almost every facet of the Sox this season, first base had been chaotic, to say the least. Bobby Dalbec underperformed to the point of getting demoted to Triple-A for the first time since his 2020 debut. Outfielder Franchy Cordero also attempted to play first base; the experiment failed spectacularly. Not ready to call up Casas, who’d missed about two months of the Triple-A season with an ankle sprain, the Sox scooped up Hosmer.

Despite giving up Jay Groome, the transaction looked like a steal. Hosmer’s Gold Glove acumen would be a significant upgrade from the woeful inconsistency at first and the Padres agreed to pay the remainder of his 8-year, $144M contract, the biggest in their franchise history at the time; the Sox would only have to pay the prorated league minimum.

However, the trade threw Casas’ highly-anticipated big-league debut into question; how would a veteran like Hosmer feel about ceding time to a rookie? At first, it didn’t seem like an immediate issue, because for weeks, Cora and the Sox front office maintained that Casas wasn’t getting the call.

Hosmer, a four-time Gold Glove first baseman and 2015 World Series champion, made a solid first impression after the trade. Unfortunately, he only played 12 games for his new team before going on the Injured List with back issues that are likely season-ending. Rather than go back to Dalbec and Cordero, the Sox changed course and selected Casas.

The 22-year-old is teeming with natural talent and a strong work ethic. Last month, Triple-A managers voted Casas the best defender at his position across the league. But he’s not cocky or getting ahead of himself; he says he’s relishing the opportunity to keep learning from Hosmer, who’s got 12 years of big-league experience to share.

The Padres actually attempted to facilitate a similar situation earlier this season, but it backfired in a big way. Amidst Fernando Tatis Jr.’s frustrating motorcycle injury situation in the spring, the Padres signed one of his role models, Robinson Canó, hoping the veteran slugger would be able to help the young superstar mature and get on the right path. Instead, Tatis ended up testing positive for a banned substance and receiving an 80-game suspension. The scandal wasn’t Canó’s fault, but it was brutally ironic, given the once-great slugger’s own pair of PED suspensions in the past.

Keeping Hosmer and Casas on the Sox roster could be a game-changer

Many Sox prospects have struggled to make the jump from Triple-A to the big leagues, including Dalbec and Jarren Duran, two former top prospects who made their debuts in the last couple of years to much fanfare, but little success. Both were optioned back to the minors within the last month after struggling for most of the season. Clearly, the Sox are hoping that between Casas’ natural talent and Hosmer’s mentorship, the newest rookie won’t go the same way.

David Ortiz often says that Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez’s guidance was so crucial to his success that he committed to paying it forward by mentoring the players who came up after him. In the autumn of his career, he passed on his expertise and experience to the younger guys in the Sox clubhouse, including Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts. In turn, Bogaerts became a mentor to Rafael Devers.

It seems to be paying off.

The front office clearly recognized the enormous value of that ripple effect, because they signed Ortiz to a lifetime contract in 2017, less than a year after he retired. They wanted to ensure he’d remain with the organization in several capacities, including continuing to mentor players. But the team needs leadership and experience in the clubhouse every day, not just when Ortiz returns home for a visit.

Hopefully, the Casas-Hosmer situation is a sign that the Sox are getting their priorities in order.