The Chicago Cubs announced the signing of free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Although the Cubs already had their future first baseman in prospect, Matt Mervis, they decided to address the obvious need for reinforcement in that position by signing veteran and experienced player Eric Hosmer.
Righty Mark Leiter Jr was designated for assignment in order to make room for Hosmer on the 40-man roster.
This is a bit of a surprise, although Leiter had a rough go of it as a starter in 2022, he seemed to find his niche once moved to the Bullpen. He made 31 relief appearances and posted a 2.87 ERA and 1.031 WHIP, with 18 walks and 62 strikeouts in 53 innings. Those are good numbers for any reliever.
Having to design players for assignment is actually a good thing because it means the Cubs have a good number of good relief pitchers already and didn’t think Leiter would fit on the roster, at least for now.
Even though he will turn 32 in March, it seems likely someone will claim him.
The #Cubs today agreed to terms with 1B Eric Hosmer on a one-year major league contract.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) January 13, 2023
A Safe Move For The Cubs And Hosmer
The signing of Hosmer is a no-risk move for the Cubs, as the San Diego Padres must pay out the remainder of the eight-year, $144 million contract he signed with the club prior to the 2018 season.
Hosmer’s contract with San Diego has three years and $39 million left on it, so Chicago will only pay him the league minimum of $720,000 during their one-year deal.
Following his veto of a move to the Washington Nationals as part of the Juan Soto trade, Hosmer was traded to the Boston Red Sox at the Trade Deadline last summer.
The #RedSox today acquired 1B Eric Hosmer, minor league INF Max Ferguson, minor league OF Corey Rosier, and cash considerations from the San Diego Padres, in exchange for minor league LHP Jay Groome. pic.twitter.com/kgSu0ES81n
— Red Sox (@RedSox) August 2, 2022
After the first option, José Abreu, signed a three-year deal with the Houston Astros, Hosmer was the third option for what Cubs manager David Ross described as a “big hole” in the lineup. The second option was Frank Schwindel, but the experiment failed.
Hosmer Shows Excitement For Joining Cubs
Despite the lack of salary, Hosmer is excited to join the Chicago Cubs. According to MLB.com, the first baseman is thrilled about the Cubs’ moves this off-season:
“It’s just a young, energetic group. From the other side looking in, you see the talent, you see the guys that are on the way up and some of the signs they’ve made.”
He also added that the Chicago Cubs play in a division without a clear winner:
“It just seems like a really good group and it seems like a division that’s wide open. And that these guys could have a really good chance. And I’m glad to be a part of it.”
The Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer believes Hosmer new location could revitalize him:
“In San Diego, he went there, he signed a big contract. He had a few good years, but obviously, it didn’t go as they hoped and they moved on. And that wasn’t the most comfortable environment as that happened. And I think that getting him into our environment, I think there are good years left.”
Hosmer is 33 years old, so this very well could be one of his final stops.
The #RedSox today released 1B Eric Hosmer.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) December 22, 2022
What can the Chicago Cubs expect from Hosmer
The Cubs gained a World Series winner in 2015, an All-Star in 2016, and a four-time Gold Glove Award winner in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017.
Along with his experience, the 33-year-old brings a high-contact bat to the lineup as Chicago attempts to improve its extreme swing-and-miss rates of the last few seasons.
Hosmer has the ability to turn things on offense, but he is prone to ground balls. Eric Hosmer was the 3rd Overall Picks in the Round 1 of the 2008 Draft for the Kansas City Royals.
Last year, Hosmer got off to a fast start, batting .377 with a .994 OPS through May 13. The rest of the season, he hit.222 with a.596 OPS in 73 games.
Overall, Hosmer hit .268/.334/.382 (.716 OPS) with eight home runs and 44 RBIs, compared to the .2223/.288/.399 slash line (.627 OPS) produced by the players used as first basemen last season for the Chicago Cubs.
Eric Hosmer has a career batting average of .277 and an OPS .716. He has 196 Home Runs, 879 RBI.
Despite winning four Gold Glove Awards, Hosmer’s defense has regressed over the last two seasons. Hosmer had minus-nine defensive runs saved and minus two above-average outs.
What happens to Matt Mervis now?
Mervis will be joining the Cubs soon, but the team’s goal is to not rush him into the Majors.
Matt Mervis, 24, hit .309 with 36 homers, 119 RBIs, and a .984 OPS across the High A, Double-A, and Triple-A levels last season.
He also hit 6 home runs and had a .914 OPS in the Arizona Fall League with Mesa.
We can expect Mervis to make the Chicago Cubs’ Opening Day roster this spring, but Hosmer adds depth and insurance, at least at the start of the season.
Patrick Wisdom, who can play both infield corners, is another option for the first base for the Cubs. Wisdom had a .577 slugging percentage against lefties last season.
If you didn’t get to meet PCA or Matt Mervis at #CubsCon we have a few tickets left for Monday!
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) January 14, 2023