Tomase: Hosmer trade addresses Red Sox’s most glaring deficiency originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
How many games have the Red Sox lost because of horrible first base defense?
There’s the one against the Yankees when Franchy Cordero couldn’t catch an infield popup. There’s the one against the Rays when Matt Strahm flew wide off the bag before Cordero inexplicably threw a lollipop into the home plate that allowed the winning run to score. There’s the other against the Rays when Bobby Dalbec failed to cover what should have been the last off Trevor Story.
There are undoubtedly more. these are just off the top of my head. Fortunately, we don’t have to watch any more car wrecks.
On Tuesday, the Red Sox stepped into the breach created by a faltering Juan Soto trade to acquire four-time Gold Glove first baseman Eric Hosmer from the Padres. Hosmer had used his no-trade clause to veto a trade to the Nationals as part of Soto’s blockbuster, and San Diego needed to clear at least some of its money to make the Soto trade happen.
2022 MLB Trade Deadline: Track the latest rumors and deals
The Red Sox helped land a player they’ve been stubbornly linked to for years, a 32-year-old former All-Star who won a World Series with the Royals in 2015. While there are reports they could flip him now or at the end of the year , let’s operate under the assumption that he stays in Boston for the rest of the season.
If that’s the case, getting him could help more than losing Christian Vazquez in a trade with the Astros. At least the Red Sox have an experienced backup catcher in Kevin Plawecki to fill in for Vazquez, whose offensive contributions have relied more on contact than power.
They haven’t gotten anything all year at first base, offensively or defensively. Red Sox first basemen rank 26th in OPS and are tied for next in homers (10). They rank 29th defensively with nine runs below average, ahead of only the Rangers.
Hosmer addresses the first problem and eliminates the second. He’s little more than a major league average hitter at this point, but he has a similar profile to Vazquez in that he doesn’t hit for a lot of power (eight homers), but he does make contact. He has struck out just 55 times in 90 games, which is well below last year’s pace of 163 Ks in 151 games.
The only way to go is up
Red Sox defensive ranking first baseman among 30 MLB teams
Even if he is no longer the defender he was in his prime, he will make the key plays that have plagued the Red Sox all year. There is value in that.
He’s also the perfect mentor for prospect Triston Casas, should the hulking slugger get the call this month. The two went to the same high school — American Heritage in Plantation, Fla. — and have known each other since Casas was a teenager. Casas has been working out at Hosmer’s house and is watching him. There is value in that too.
What this means in terms of the buy versus sell question remains to be seen. The Red Sox saw an opportunity to take advantage of San Diego’s desperation to complete the Soto trade, and they took it smartly. Hosmer represents a more impressive everyday addition than outfielder Tommy Pham or catcher Reese McGuire if the Red Sox want to continue to sell the idea that they’re still doing it this year.
What they decide to do with DH JD Martinez and right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will likely determine their fate, but if Hosmer is truly here to stay, it will help.