When it comes to the Eric Hosmer situation in San Diego, many fans are frustrated with Hosmer and his remaining $59 million contract essentially blocking the front office from being able to acquire an All-Star caliber first baseman. But this first base situation wouldn’t be as bad if Ty France, who was traded to Seattle at the 2020 trade deadline in the Austin Nola deal, was still on the roster.
France would be a positive in two ways. Hosmer’s contract wouldn’t be viewed as the reason why the Padres couldn’t improve their offense from the first base position and thus the Padres would have a better starting first baseman or they’d have their designated hitter (assuming that the universal DH is implemented for the 2022 season).
If we go back to why France was dealt in the first place, it was because he was blocked. Manny Machado isn’t going anywhere so third base wasn’t an option for France. Across the diamond, Hosmer was in the midst of having his best season in San Diego during the shortened 2020 season and opposing teams still didn’t think Hosmer was appealing at the time. If teams didn’t think he was appealing then, Hosmer certainly isn’t appealing now.
Because Hosmer and Machado were going to play regardless of their stats and the fact that there was no permanent DH yet (it was just for the 2020 season), AJ Preller wasn’t going to have France’s prime years wasted on the bench. He wanted to get numerous players back who could impact the team in a more significant way. The return the Padres got in that deal (which also involved Taylor Trammell, Luis Torrens and Andres Munoz)—Nola, Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla—hasn’t been too successful, as that trio logged a combined 2021 WAR of 1. For perspective, France’s 2021 WAR alone was 4.3.
France wouldn’t just provide better offensive production at first base than what San Diego is getting but he’d also help fill another hole the Padres currently have: power production in general (not to mention he can play third and second base, too). The Padres were interested in Nick Castellanos and Kris Bryant before the lockout and those are obviously going to come at a hefty price. However, if France was in San Diego, perhaps the Padres wouldn’t have to get into the Castellanos and Bryant sweepstakes because they don’t have to make up for as much power production as they do now. They might’ve been able to settle for an outfielder like Mark Canha, who signed with the Mets, at a much cheaper price.
France also is still on his rookie contract, meaning that he wouldn’t prevent Preller from making more expensive moves. The San Diego State alum only made $587,500 in 2021.
The Padres starting lineup combined for 157 home runs last season, according to Baseball Reference. If you swap out Hosmer for France, that total would’ve been 163. The doesn’t seem like a big difference but there were many games that I watched last season that could’ve been won if the Padres had hit another homer here and there.
Along with Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes, the Padres probably wish they could have France on the team at this moment. Do you?