Eric Hosmer signed an eight-year, $144 million contract before the 2018 season to be one of the faces of the first Padres World Series championship ever. Instead, he has been one of the faces of the Padres’ continued struggles.
Hosmer’s best season in a Padres uniform came in 2020, a two month season, where he compiled 0.9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). In 2021, his WAR ended up being zero, according to FanGraphs.
The old school stats don’t make it seem like Hosmer had a bad year. He finished hitting .269 and hit over .300 in two months of the season. However, it’s clear he didn’t produce at the level of his contract when you compare his numbers to the rest of the team.
Despite earning the third-most amount of money on the team in 2021, Hosmer finished 7th on the team in runs scored and home runs, fifth in on-base percentage, and sixth in slugging percentage and OPS.
Hosmer’s groundball rate increased by 9.3% in 2021 compared to 2020, according to FanGraphs, among other advanced stats. His line drive rate and hard hit percentage decreased while his flyball rate decreased by 8.4% and his soft hit percentage increased by 5.1%.
Hosmer didn’t even finish in the top 12 in WAR among Padres players. Pierce Johnson, a reliever, provided more value to the club than Hosmer, a former All-Star Game MVP. Part of the reason why Hosmer’s WAR wasn’t good was his defense. He was once viewed as the best at his position, winning four gold gloves in five years from 2013 to 2017, but that isn’t the case any longer.
He made seven fielding errors this season at first base and that’s not even counting some of mistakes he made this year like this one:
In the last four seasons with San Diego, Hosmer has made 27 errors.
Hosmer is getting paid $18 million a year on average throughout his eight-year contract in San Diego. However, Hosmer has combined to be worth only $4.5 million in the first four years with the Friars, according to FanGraphs’ dollar metric. He was worth $-1 million and $-2 million in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
As a huge Padres fan, I’m not one of those people who bash Hosmer just to bash Hosmer. In fact, I actually realize what signing him meant for the city of San Diego. Signing him signaled to the city that the organization was taking major steps to contending. If he didn’t come here, Manny Machado probably wouldn’t have thought as much of the Padres organization in free agency.
With that said, there have been years (like 2018 and 2019) where he is actually hurting the team—in terms of WAR—more than he is helping the team. It’s going to be tough to find a trade partner for him due to his contract but it’s time for the Padres to admit that the contract they gave to Hosmer was a severe overpay.
If the Padres can get out from under Hosmer’s contract (at least partially), it would give them more financial flexibility to improve their rotation and/or improve their offense.