After only 14 games, Eric Hosmer’s time with the Boston Red Sox has come to an end.
The Red Sox released the veteran first baseman on Thursday, despite being able to retain him for the major-league minimum through 2025. They acquired him from the San Diego Padres at the 2022 trade deadline, and his former team agreed to absorb the remainder of the 8-year, $144M deal they gave him in 2018. As such, the Sox would only have to pay the 4-time Gold Glove winner between $720-760K in each of the following three seasons.
Chaim Bloom explains why Red Sox released Eric Hosmer
Why get rid of such an affordable player so quickly? To give a rising star an open road.
After only 27 games at the big-league level, the Sox are ‘clearing a lane’ for Triston Casas, their 22-year-old rookie first baseman:
"“Our roster isn’t complete yet, but as we build our club, we feel it’s important to give Triston [Casas] a clear lane, and that carrying two left-handed hitting first basemen would leave us short in other areas. Given that, it’s important to do right by Eric [Hosmer] and give him time to find his next opportunity. We knew when we first got him that this day would come at some point, and wanted to make sure we treated him right.” Chaim Bloom"
Every player’s time with a team comes to an end at some point, but it sounds like the Sox always knew Hosmer’s tenure would be brief. And because the trade triggered a full no-trade clause for the remainder of his contract, the Sox always had limited options for how to handle him.
In the end, Hosmer only cost the Sox $246,154 (the prorated league minimum for his time in Boston post-trade) and Jay Groome, a former top pitching prospect. But his tenure, the generally perplexing trade deadline, and overall decision-making that culminated in a terrible 2022 (and a so-far-uninspiring 2023) are reminders that this club looks like a ship going out to sea without a rudder.
It’s also a lot of pressure to put on Casas. After Hosmer got hurt, the Sox finally called the top prospect up for a September 4 debut. Over 95 plate appearances, the 22-year-old hit .197/.358/.408 with 15 hits, including a double and five home runs. He walked (19) almost as much as he struck out (23). The low batting average belies how quickly he made adjustments; after going 3-for-28 with 10 strikeouts in his first 10 games, he went 12-for-48 in his remaining 17 and matched each strikeout with a walk, 13 apiece.
Casas projects to be a strong hitter and defender, but the Sox have taken this kind of risk with a top infield prospect before. In 2020, they called up Bobby Dalbec for an August 30 debut, and he hit .263/.359/.600 with 21 hits (3 doubles, 8 HR), 10 walks, and 39 strikeouts in 23 games.
Coincidentally, Dalbec’s debut was also the day Sox traded veteran first baseman, Mitch Moreland, to the Padres. Moreland had been one of the most underrated keys to the team’s success in the mid-2010s, and a home-run hero in the 2018 World Series. Between 2017-19, he averaged 25 doubles and 19 home runs per season; in 2022, only four Red Sox collected more than 25 doubles, and one hit more than 16 home runs.
In exchange for Moreland, the Sox received the Padres’ 2016 first-round pick, Hudson Potts, and Jeisson Rosario. Potts became a free agent after the 2022 season and signed with the Atlanta Braves earlier this month, and the Yankees claimed Rosario off waivers when the Red Sox DFA’ed him to make room on the roster for Trevor Story last March. In the end, a trade that sent away one of the most important members of the 2018 championship team netted nothing for the Sox.
This is the second time in Bloom’s three seasons that he’s giving up an affordable veteran first baseman for a rookie. Casas projects to be a better all-around player than Dalbec by far, but it’s still a risk, and so far, most haven’t paid off for the Chief Baseball Officer.