Eric Hosmer proving Yankees trade wouldn’t have been World’s Worst Thing
That sound you hear is 50,000 Yankees fans fury-clicking this article in unison to defend Anthony Rizzo’s honor, and they’re about to be sadly mistaken about its intentions. Put away those pitchforks. Put ’em back in your chicken buckets.
Yes, the Yankees made a wise move adding Anthony Rizzo at a discount this offseason for what might amount to a one-year deal, passing on a longer pact for Freddie Freeman and a trade/long-term contract for Matt Olson. Through mid-May — even amid a lengthy cold snap — Rizzo has 10 homers, an .856 OPS, and top-tier hard-hit numbers (88th percentile average exit velocity, 89th percentile xWOBA).
There’s a good chance Rizzo won’t be as productive as Freeman and Olson several years down the line. Luckily for the Yankees, they won’t be committed, and might only find out by flipping through the West Coast games on an off day.
Swapping Rizzo out would be a severe net negative in the early going; you’d be losing not only a power bat, but a slick glove whose demoralizing scoops send a message to the opposing team. But living among the trees in hard-hit rate and offensive dominance so far this season has been an unexpected fourth option: Eric Hosmer, who you all laughed at all winter long.
Hosmer, reportedly a weak bat on a prohibitive contract, is signed at only $18 million per year through 2024 and ranks in the 92nd percentile in maximum exit velocity, 87th percentile in xBA and 83rd percentile in K percentage. In a year where offense is down across the board, the 32-year-old Hosmer holds a 175 OPS+, hitting .350 for the frisky Padres with four homers, 24 RBI, and 1.5 WAR.
Oh, and on defense? 83rd percentile in outs above average.
Yankees trading for Eric Hosmer would’ve given them longer-term solution
This is not a “1-2 years of Rizzo vs. 3 years of Hosmer” debate. Odds are low that the Wizard of Hos replicates this level of output in June, let alone 2023.
This is just to say that finding a middle ground in dealing for Hosmer over signing Freeman/surrendering assets for Olson might’ve been a wise thing to examine instead of an idea that was repeatedly hate-retweeted. After all, there was a time when the Padres were dedicated to giving him away, and would even attach a prospect if someone might be willing to absorb his not-that-detrimental contract.
Now? He looks like a 2015 Royals-esque team captain again, and if he’d had this type of breakout for the Yankees, they’d maintain control over him for the next few years of their window. Rizzo? He can opt out after a big 2022, which he certainly seems to be having.
If acquired, Hosmer would’ve been a slightly-pricier bridge to the next great Yankees first baseman in 2025, and the team would’ve been crossing their fingers that the regression monster wasn’t en route for the next two years. Rizzo embodies everything they value, and was the wiser call (and might even be convinced to stay).
But everyone who made a complete mockery of the Hosmer suggestion should look in the mirror — or, better yet, look at FanGraphs.