On Friday afternoon, the Chicago Cubs made a major decision on an All-Star first baseman and former World Series hero. The Cubs announced that they had designated 33-year-old Eric Hosmer for an assignment. That’s a decision that seemed inevitable from the moment Chicago acquired him.
One of the better defensive first basemen of the last decade, Hosmer signed an eight-year contract with San Diego Padres heading into the 2018 season. Unfortunately, Hosmer was unable to replicate the numbers that made him a household name with the Kansas City Royals. More than 1500 miles away from where he made his major league debut, Hosmer saw his offensive production decline after making the switch to the National League.
Eventually, the Padres traded him to the Red Sox at last year’s trade deadline. San Diego ate almost all of the remaining money on his deal, and he finished out the season in Boston before being granted his release.
The Cubs took the minimum financial risk of signing Hosmer as a placeholder until their top prospects were major-league-ready. Chicago recently promoted its No. 5 prospect, Matt Mervis, who will likely see the majority of reps at first base. While his numbers haven’t been anything special, it’s probably better that the Cubs let him figure things out in the big leagues and not hand out his at-bats to a past-prime veteran on a minimum deal.
Before he was designated for assignment, Hosmer was slashing .234/.280/.330 with zero home runs, 14 RBIs and a career-low .610 OPS. He will likely hit free agency, and could have a market for a team seeking a four-time Gold Glove winner at first base.
[MLB Trade Rumors; photo from Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports]