It’s clear the San Diego Padres want to trade Eric Hosmer sooner rather than later and if a trade somehow occurs, it would put them in the market for a first baseman. The best first baseman on the trade market, in this scenario, would be Matt Olson of the Oakland Athletics.
While some fans might be willing to trade anything for the 27-year-old, that’s not what we’re discussing right now. There’s no doubt that A.J. Preller will need to give up a lot in order to get a deal done. What’s interesting to discuss right now is if a deal can even get done this offseason if things indeed fall into place for the Padres to make a splashy trade acquisition at first base.
There are a number of barriers that Preller would need to get over if he wants Olson on the roster come Opening Day.
Why would the A’s want an expensive first baseman if they’re in rebuild mode?
There needs to be two sides to tango and the whole reason the A’s would be trading Olson is because they aren’t intending to win right now and want to get young talent back in return that can help them win in the future. Notice I didn’t say they want an expensive first baseman who has been unwilling to change his swing for the better of the team.
The A’s are already known as a team that doesn’t spend much money anyways. The reason why they were successful with Melvin the last few years was because their stars—Olson, Matt Chapman, and Marcus Semien—weren’t being paid $26 million a year like Semien is now being paid in Texas. Oakland wasn’t even willing to give Semien the qualifying offer before the 2021 season, and Semien went on to get MVP votes with Toronto, so why would they be willing to pay someone who doesn’t produce anywhere near the level his salary says he should be producing at.
Olson’s contract is more affordable than Hosmer’s this year
If the A’s are rebuilding, they’re going to want to go with the player who has the less expensive contract. And if we are only looking at 2022, the less expensive contract is Olson, according to Spotrac.
While Hosmer is scheduled to make $20 million, Olson is going to make $12 million. Saving $8 million is obviously a big deal when we’re talking about the A’s because they didn’t want to keep Bob Melvin since he was scheduled to make around that same amount if I recall correctly before he left for America’s Finest City.
If 2022 ends and the A’s still have Olson on the roster, perhaps they’d be willing to re-engage with the Padres about a Hosmer/prospects-Olson swap because Hosmer’s $13 million average annual value (AAV) will be less than Olson’s arbitration number. So unless Preller’s willing to eat over $8 million of Hosmer’s 2022 contract, then Oakland might as well stick with Olson contract-wise if they don’t get a good offer from another team.
Padres’ competition for Olson won’t help their cause
Sometimes fans might be so focused on how their team is going to acquire a star player that they forget other teams are going to be interested in that player as well. One of those teams who could be in the Olson market is the Yankees. They might be in better position to acquire Olson over the Padres because they don’t have an expensive first baseman that everyone on the entire planet knows they’re desperately trying to get rid of.
Luke Voit is the first baseman the Yankees would likely put in a package for Olson. While Voit has dealt with some injuries, he’s only scheduled to make a little more than $5 million this coming season compared to Hosmer’s $20 million and he’s two years younger. If the Padres and Yankees’ deals are neck and neck, which one do you think Billy Beane is going to pick?
Additionally, New York arguably is in a better position prospect-wise than San Diego because they haven’t depleted their farm system as much as Preller has. While Jasson Dominguez is likely off limits, Brian Cashman still has three other players—Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza and Luis Gil—in MLB.com’s Top-100 prospects list.
The Padres, like the Yankees, also have four prospects in the Top 100 but I’d label Abrams as untouchable and Robert Hassell III is close to untouchable. In this case, that leaves San Diego with two top 100 prospects that they’d be okay with parting with in an Olson deal while the Yankees have three.
The Yankees, by the way, are just one potential suitor for Olson. There certainly should be other suitors if the A’s in fact are making him available.
Preller might opt to wait
I know nobody is considering this but there might be a chance that Preller tries to wait until next offseason, or the 2022 trade deadline, to make a push for Olson so that he doesn’t have to give up as much of a return because Olson won’t have as many years attached to him.
The only problems with Preller waiting are, of course, another team could get him and Hosmer will be even harder to move after this coming season. If a trade happens after the 2022 trade deadline, Hosmer will have his ten and five rights—meaning that he will have the right to veto any trade that he is involved in. If he has the chance to go to Oakland, I don’t think he’d want to jump at that opportunity because he probably wants to be on a contender this late in his career. Oakland obviously wouldn’t fit in that category. Oh, and living in San Diego isn’t bad either.
The lockout continuing isn’t what Preller wants
This lockout might end up preventing the Padres from not just acquiring Olson but even finding a taker for Hosmer. The players and the league/owners aren’t having any substantial discussions right now in terms of forming a new CBA so I’d expect this lockout to drag on until at least February 1 because there’s no urgency on either side.
The players are only working out on their own this time of year anyway so no games are being missed, which means they aren’t missing out on any paychecks. On the other side of things, most owners aren’t in a rush to get a deal done because they are billionaires with money in their pockets. Some owners, like Steve Cohen of the Mets, already have made most of their big moves anyway before the lockout started.
If the lockout lasts until February, that would leave only two or so weeks for Preller to make moves if he wants his offseason to be fully complete before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Peoria. Two weeks might not be enough time for the A’s to process all of the proposals from teams and/or it might not be enough time for Preller to find a taker for Hosmer (if it isn’t the A’s).