Eric Hosmer and the Cubs agree to deal

CHICAGO — The Cubs may already have their first baseman of the future by beating prospect Matt Mervis, but that hasn’t stopped the club from addressing the obvious need for reinforcements in that position for the upcoming campaign.

A source told MLB.com on Wednesday that the Cubs have reached an agreement on a contract for veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer, who brings on-field experience and depth to the roster as Chicago is trying to pull out of its recent rebuilding phase.

The team has not confirmed the deal, which is pending a physical review. ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers first reported that the parties had an agreement.

Hosmer is a safe addition for the Cubs, given the veteran’s contract situation. The Padres must pay off the remainder of the eight-year, $144 million deal he signed with the club ahead of the 2018 campaign. There are still three years and $39 million left in that contract for San Diego, which means Chicago just has to pay Hosmer league minimum wage.

To Hosmer, the Cubs add a World Series champion (2015), All-Star (’16) and a four-time Gold Glove Award winner (2013-15, ’17). The 33-year-old also adds another high-contact bat as Chicago continues to exceed its extreme swing and miss rates of the past few years. Hosmer is prone to ground balls as a hitter, but he’s always shown his ability to turn things on offensively during stretches.

Last year, he was one of baseball’s best hitters off the drop, hitting .377 with a .994 OPS through May 13. He then hit .222 with a .596 OPS in 73 games the rest of the way. Overall in 2022, Hosmer had a .268/.334/.382 slant line (.716 OPS) with eight home runs, 19 doubles, 44 RBIs and a 108 OPS+ (eight percent over average).

The Cubs produced a .223/.288/.339 slant line (.627 OPS) with a 69 OPS+ on players used as first basemen last season.

Defensively, forward metrics from recent campaigns have not been favorable to Hosmer’s work, despite his four Gold Glove Awards. Over the past two seasons combined, he’s produced minus nine defensive points saved and minus two over-average strikeouts.

The Cubs had their eye on free agent Jose Abreu before this offseason, but he signed a three-year contract with the Astros. With Frank Schwindel’s experiment not working, Chicago was left with what manager David Ross described as “a big hole” at first base as a group of players roamed the spot in 2022.

The North Siders have Mervis (No. 21 on the Pipeline Top 30 prospect list) arriving soon, but the goal would not be to rush his arrival to the Majors. Last year, the 24-year-old Mervis hit .309 with 36 home runs, 119 RBIs and a .984 OPS at the High-A, Double-A and Triple-A levels. He then added six more homers with a .914 OPS with Mesa in the Arizona Fall League.

Mervis is expected to get a chance to crack the Cubs’ opening day roster this spring, but Hosmer helps add a layer of depth and confidence, at least early in the season. The Cubs also have Patrick Wisdom, who is an option in the inside two corners, but could also potentially fill a squad role with Hosmer at first. Last year, Wisdom had a .557 hit percentage against lefties.

Leave a Comment