The report was that the Orioles and Cubs have interest in free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer. The former All-Star won a World Series ring with the 2015 Kansas City Royals and is said to be “on the radar” of the Orioles and Cubs.
This tells us, well, not much. How much interest do they have and how much interest will Hosmer have in them?
The Padres traded Hosmer to Boston last August, and the Red Sox released him just a few days ago. Whichever team signs him will only pay him the major league minimum as San Diego remains on the hook with Hosmer for three more years at $13 million each. The Padres signed him in February 2018 to an eight-year deal worth a whopping $144 million.
If it turns out that Hosmer goes from being on the Orioles' radar to being signed and in their clubhouse, he would join a list of vets they have added that includes Kyle Gibson, Adam Frazier, James McCann and Mychal Givens, players they see as good clubhouse guys that can help a young team get to the next level.
Whatever energy, mentorship and leadership that is gone with departures of Jordan Lyles, Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor will be made up and perhaps exceeded by this new group.
There is a school of thought in baseball that winning teams need such players, players that not only lead in the clubhouse but, like Odor and Chirinos, would not take any bull from another team and would readily let them know the Orioles are pushovers no longer.
Hosmer doesn’t hit or field like he once did (he has won four Gold Gloves, the last in 2017) but is still an above-average hitter via the stat OPS plus. His OPS plus of 108 for 2022 would have ranked fourth among O’s regulars behind only Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Anthony Santander and Trey Mancini, who is no longer with the club, of course.
In 104 games between San Diego and Boston, Hosmer batted .268/.334/.382/.716. His K rate was 15.3, while the major league average was 21.2. His walk rate of 8.8 was above the major league average of 8.2. Since 2020 his OPS plus is 110, and for his career he has a .764 OPS with a 108 OPS plus.
Hosmer could spell Ryan Mountcastle against some right-handers, and his career numbers against right-handers show a .287 batting average and .810 OPS. Although last year his OPS was just .693 versus right-handed pitching.
Hosmer was a clear leader of some great Kansas City teams and played in back-to-back World Series in 2014 and 2015. He was beloved there and a clubhouse leader. He's a future Royals Hall of Famer. Hosmer is bilingual too, which allows him to bridge language gaps and be a leader with all players in the clubhouse.
San Diego went the extra mile to sign him in February 201
8, and he instantly became a face of the franchise with such a big contract. When some of those Padres teams didn’t win fast enough or get deep enough in the playoffs, he bore the brunt of some criticism. But before he got away from the Royals they offered him $100 million, considered to be a whopping offer by them at that time.
Hosmer earned the respect of his Padres teammates as he had in Kansas City.
Said outfielder Franmil Reyes of Hosmer to the San Diego Union Tribune in a 2019 interview: “It’s just his personality. He’s a happy guy. He’s always on the game. The way he fires up his teammates, it’s crazy. I want to be around him, because I want to become the player he is and the teammate he is. He shows the others. He's not a leader who just talks. He’s a leader who teaches us how to be a leader when he does things.”
Added then-first base coach Skip Schumacher: “A lot of these rookies are probably going to be here for a long time now and there’s no better guy for them to watch and learn from the next seven years than Eric Hosmer. … It’s important these guys are surrounded by guys like Eric Hosmer. If they aren’t, they can go off and not really understand what it takes.
“If they want to get to that point and win, Eric knows. He can hit them in the mouth with, ‘No, this is how you do it, because this is what it takes.’ The clubhouse, the chemistry, that stuff is real. You can’t quantify it. That’s why Eric is so valuable.”
Right now the Orioles' interest in this player is nothing more than a line or two in an article. If this advances to them actually adding Hosmer, they would be getting a player who fits the mold of "good in the clubhouse," as other additions have this offseason.
It could be important help for a young clubhouse.
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