The Padres, according to sources, have offered first baseman Eric Hosmer a seven-year contract, further illustrating their interest in one of the offseason’s premier free agents. But attempts to lure Hosmer to San Diego appear to be facing stiff competition from another small-market team.
According to a USA Today report, the Royals have offered Hosmer a seven-year, $147 million deal to remain in Kansas City, while the Padres’ bid is worth $140 million.
People with knowledge of San Diego’s pursuit on Wednesday contradicted that report. The Padres’ offer is lower than $140 million, according to sources who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of negotiations. The exact amount proposed is unknown, though it is well above $100 million.
Similarly, it is unclear if the Padres and the Royals are willing to increase their respective offers. As of Wednesday, the Padres did not seem to be planning a substantial hike.
Either of the current bids, if accepted, would shatter a franchise record. The Padres have never committed more than the $83 million incumbent first baseman Wil Myers received last year in a six-year extension. Following the 2015 season, the Royals gave outfielder Alex Gordon a four-year, $72 million deal.
Both teams have courted Hosmer in hopes of featuring him during a rebuilding phase. The Padres believe the 28-year-old could help them bridge the gap to contention within the next few seasons. While not as far along in their own reconstruction, the Royals believe their homegrown star continues to fit in their long-term plans.
Other obvious candidates for Hosmer have been scarce. The Boston Red Sox excused themselves from the sweepstakes last month by signing first baseman Mitch Moreland to a two-year, $13 million deal. The St. Louis Cardinals have emerged as a dark horse, but the free-agent market, in general, has been slow to develop.
Baseball’s most powerful agent is among the contributing factors. Scott Boras, who represents Hosmer, J.D. Martinez and other high-profile players, has consistently demonstrated a willingness to strike deals late in the offseason. Industry sources say the asking prices for Hosmer and Martinez began in the $200 million range, with Boras seeking an eight-year contract for the former.
“He told these guys he would get them those figures and will wait as long as he can,” one baseball official familiar with Boras said recently.
Hosmer has signaled some level of mutual interest to both of his most aggressive suitors. The first baseman visited with the Padres twice this winter, and he remains beloved by the Royals, with whom he went to consecutive World Series in 2014 and 2015. People close to Hosmer say he would like to play for a winning team sooner than later, perhaps lending credence to the Cardinals’ candidacy.
Sources refuted a recent report that a “deep split of opinion” exists within the Padres organization over whether it is the right time to pursue a player such as Hosmer. Team officials appear convinced Hosmer is capable of spearheading a culture shift along with a playoff push in the not-too-distant future.
Yet, as is the norm in free agency, the pressing question continues to be compensation. Although Myers has declared his willingness to accommodate Hosmer by moving to the outfield, an overpay may be unappealing for a club that alternatively could reserve its funds for a position of clearer need. If a split in opinion does exist, it concerns how much the Padres would be willing to pay for Hosmer’s services.
Capps avoids arbitration
According to a source, the Padres have avoided arbitration with reliever Carter Capps, agreeing to a $1.0625 million salary for 2018. MLBTradeRumors.com had projected a $1.3 million figure for the right-hander.
Capps had his return from Tommy John surgery ended prematurely last season. The 27-year-old underwent surgery in late September to address thoracic outlet syndrome. He is expected to be ready for spring training next month.
Five Padres remain eligible for arbitration: relievers Brad Hand and Kirby Yates, infielders Freddy Galvis and Cory Spangenberg, and outfielder Matt Szczur.
Prior joins Dodgers
Mark Prior, the Padres’ minor league pitching coordinator for the past three years, has joined the Los Angeles Dodgers as their bullpen coach.
The ex-Chicago Cubs star and University of San Diego High graduate is the second hire the Dodgers have added from the Padres’ player development staff this offseason. Los Angeles previously hired Luis Ortiz, San Diego’s former field and hitting coordinator, as an assistant hitting coach/minor league hitting coordinator.
The Padres have not yet announced their minor league coaching and development staffs for 2018.