Eric Hosmer has informed the Red Sox that he will not be opting out of the final three years and $39 million of his contract, according to The New York Post’s Jon Heyman.
The Red Sox acquired Hosmer and minor-leaguers Max Ferguson and Corey Rosier from the Padres in exchange for pitching prospect Jay Groome at the trade deadline in early August. As part of the deal, San Diego agreed to take on nearly the entirety of Hosmer’s remaining contract, leaving Boston on the hook for only the major-league minimum.
Hosmer was brought in to provide the Red Sox with stability at first base at a time when they desperately needed it. The 33-year-old recorded just nine hits in his first 12 games with the club before low back inflammation kept him sidelined and on the injured list into October. He returned in time for the final two games of the season.
After batting .272/.336/.391 with 16 doubles, eight home runs, 40 RBIs, 32 runs scored, 33 walks, and 55 strikeouts in 90 games (369 plate appearances) with the Padres to begin the year, Hosmer slashed .244/.320/.311 with three doubles, four RBIs, six runs scored, four walks, and nine strikeouts over 14 games (50 plate appearances) with the Red Sox to close it out.
Given that level of production, Hosmer’s decision to opt in is not necessarily a surprising one. The former first-round draft pick of the Royals spent the first seven years of his major-league career in Kansas City before signing an eight-year, $144 million deal with the Padres in February 2018.
At that time, Hosmer had inked the largest free-agent contract in Padres history. The deal included a full no-trade clause from 2018-2020 and a limited no-trade clause thereafter that prevented the Boras Corp. client from being traded to 10 teams.
The Padres attempted to trade Hosmer to the Nationals as part of the Juan Soto/Josh Bell swap over the summer, but the four-time Gold Glover exercised his no-trade rights. While San Diego ultimately sent Luke Voit to Washington to complete the deal, it also found a trade partner for Hosmer when the Red Sox — who were not on his no-trade list — agreed to acquire the veteran first baseman.
Because he was traded by the Padres, though, Hosmer once again received full no-trade protection. Only this time it would last for the remainder of his contract. The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier first reported about this provision last month.
Given that unique caveat, the Red Sox may have difficulty in finding a trade partner for Hosmer since he has the ability to veto a trade to any other team. At the same time, however, there could still be plenty of interest on account of the fact Boston only owes Hosmer $720,000 per year over the next three years.
As things stand now, Hosmer’s fit on the 2023 Red Sox would seem to be an imperfect one. Boston already has a left-handed hitting first baseman on the rise in Triston Casas, so on paper there really would not be much of a need to carry two similar players like that.
With that being said, the Red Sox could elect to retain Hosmer as insurance behind Casas. It also helps that Hosmer played a role in mentoring Casas, a fellow American Heritage High School alum, after the 22-year-old was called up for the first time in September.
Beyond first base, Hosmer could help fill the void left behind by J.D. Martinez at designated hitter since Martinez is expected to sign elsewhere in free agency. He also has past experience in right field, though his last appearance out there came during his age-25 season in 2015.
At the end of the day, the Red Sox have options when it comes to what they will do with Hosmer moving forward. It should be interesting to see what the future has in store for him.
(Picture of Eric Hosmer: Joe Sargent/Getty Images)