Daily Dose: Waiver claim nets ChiSox Rios

Leave a comment

Alex Rios signed a seven-year, $70 million extension with the Blue Jays just 13 months ago, but on Monday afternoon general manager J.P. Ricciardi decided to simply dump the remainder of that contract on the White Sox when they put in a waiver claim for the 28-year-old. “This allows us to get out from under a contract and enables us to do more to address our club going forward,” Ricciardi said.
Rios is a career .285/.335/.451 hitter who’s at just .264/.317/.427 this year, so it’s tough to blame Ricciardi for not wanting to pay him an average of $12 million per season through 2014. However, Rios’ great glove and baserunning mean that his value goes far beyond production at the plate and if he returns to pre-2009 levels the White Sox will gladly pay that to replace impending free agent Jermaine Dye.
For now though Dye remains the starting right fielder and Carlos Quentin is fixed in left field, so most of Rios’ playing time figures to come at the expense of Scott Podsednik in center field. Calling the White Sox’s power-boosting ballpark home gives Rios a much improved chance of finally cracking 25 homers at some point, but in the short term a crowded outfield could take a chunk out of his value.
While the Blue Jays shed payroll and the White Sox add an underrated outfielder in his prime, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Just when an eight-game winning streak finally had the Nationals headed in the right direction, the team received bad news during Monday’s off day. Dr. James Andrews has recommended Tommy John elbow surgery for Jordan Zimmermann after reviewing his MRI exam. Zimmermann may seek a second opinion, but the 23-year-old right-hander is done for the season and figures to go under the knife.
Zimmermann looked extremely promising before suffering the injury around three weeks ago, posting a 4.63 ERA and 92/29 K/BB ratio in 91.1 innings spread over 16 starts after basically skipping Triple-A. With a bit more seasoning and a better defense behind him Zimmermann looked like a possible ace and he may still get there, but it likely won’t be until at least 2011.
* Chris Young certainly earned a demotion to Triple-A by hitting .194/.297/.359 in 103 games, but it was still surprising to see the Diamondbacks actually make the move Monday. His sub-.200 batting average shouldn’t shock anyone after Young hit .237 as a rookie and .248 last season, but just seven homers in 315 at-bats stands out after he showed about twice that much power coming into the year.
Young will likely be back once rosters expand in September and remains part of the long-term plans, so he may be a bargain in NL-only leagues next year. In the meantime Arizona added Rusty Ryal to play some second base, Ryan Roberts is likely to see time in left field along with Trent Oeltjen, and Gerardo Parra is the everyday center fielder. Ryal has a cool name and 20-homer pop, but little else.
* Pedro Martinez will join the Phillies’ rotation Wednesday against the Cubs, with Charlie Manuel announcing that Jamie Moyer and his 5.47 ERA will be moved to the bullpen. Previously the Phillies said that Moyer wasn’t a relief option, but J.A. Happ has simply been too good to pull from the rotation and Martinez striking out 11 in his third rehab start apparently convinced the team that he’s an upgrade.
AL Quick Hits: Justin Duchscherer (elbow) had an encouraging first rehab outing Sunday at Triple-A, throwing 55 pitches … Jacoby Ellsbury topped last season’s total with his 51st stolen base of the year Monday … Torii Hunter (groin) is set to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Single-A … Gil Meche (back) is scheduled to come off the disabled list Thursday against the Twins … Magglio Ordonez had three extra-base hits Monday and is batting over .400 this month … Joe Maddon speculated Monday that Troy Percival will retire rather than come back from his latest injuries … Tim Wakefield (calf) tossed a simulated game Monday, but had to take three rests during the 51 pitches … Edwin Jackson needed 104 pitches to complete four innings Monday versus the Red Sox, allowing four runs … Mark Grudzielanek was released by Minnesota after the 39-year-old veteran struggled in eight games at Double-A.
NL Quick Hits: Johnny Cueto left Monday’s start after suffering a hip flexor hitting in the third inning … Billy Wagner (elbow) threw his fifth straight scoreless inning while rehabbing Monday at Single-A … Chad Billingsley (hamstring) is unlikely to make his scheduled start Wednesday … Leo Nunez notched his 12th save after Matt Lindstrom struggled with a five-run lead Monday … Aaron Cook (toe) is now on track to start Friday against the Marlins … Tom Gorzelanny headed for X-rays after being hit on the foot Monday, but gave up six runs in 1.1 innings first … Tim Hudson (elbow) is slated to begin a rehab stint Thursday at Triple-A … Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang have both cleared waivers … Former second overall pick Greg Reynolds has been shut down with shoulder problems that surfaced in April … LaTroy Hawkins (shingles) reported no issues after Monday’s simulated game … Troy Tulowitzki had a monster game Monday, hitting for the cycle while knocking in seven runs, and is slugging over .600 since June 1.

Eric Hosmer’s eight-year, $144 million contract isn’t that bad

Ed Zurga/Getty Images
10 Comments

Late Saturday night, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the Padres and first baseman Eric Hosmer agreed to an eight-year, $144 million contract, the new largest contract in club history. According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, the contract includes an opt-out after the fifth year. Further, Hosmer will average $21 million per year for those first five years and $13 million for the final three years, so it’s severely front-loaded.

Hosmer, 28, had a career year last season, playing in all 162 games while batting .318/.385/.498 with 25 home runs, 94 RBI, and 98 runs scored in 671 plate appearances. Per Baseball Reference, Hosmer accrued 4.0 Wins Above Replacement, only one of six first basemen to do so. At No. 6, he was 0.4 WAR behind Anthony Rizzo and 0.4 WAR ahead of Logan Morrison.

Wil Myers had previously told the Padres he would accept a position change if the club were to sign Hosmer. He will be moving to the outfield as a result. The Padres now have a logjam in the outfield, so Jose Pirela could move moved to the infield. How the Padres plan to handle that situation remains to be seen.

The general consensus about the Hosmer signing once news broke was that it is laughably bad. Back in November, Dave Cameron — ironically now in the Padres’ front office — called Hosmer a “free agent landmine.” That thought hasn’t really changed among many writers. For example, using restraint, Dennis Lin of The Athletic calls the deal “a big gamble.” MLB Network’s Brian Kenny said Hosmer has at least three “red flags.”

FanGraphs projects the Padres to finish 71-91, so adding Hosmer isn’t likely to transform the club into a contender on his own. That being said, the Padres’ payroll was only at $70 million prior to the Hosmer signing, so the contract won’t hamstring them going forward. If the young nucleus of players — including Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe — perform as expected, the Padres could be a threat in the NL West relatively soon with plenty of cheap, cost-controlled players and having some experienced veterans like Hosmer and Myers could be useful for their intangibles — pennant race/playoff experience, clubhouse presence, leadership, etc.

Hosmer has had three seasons of 3.5 WAR or more, according to Baseball Reference. He’s had four between -0.5 and 1.0. Now entering his age-28 season, it’s hardly a guarantee he’ll be an All-Star-caliber player in 2018, let alone in 2022 when he is 32 years old. From a strict dollars-to-WAR standpoint in a complete vacuum, one could’ve done better than Hosmer at eight years, $144 million.

The Padres, however, aren’t a small market team; they just operate like one. Forbes valued the club at $1.125 billion last April. The Padres don’t have the financial muscle of the Dodgers or Yankees, but paying Eric Hosmer $18 million on average for the first five years of his contract won’t come close to hurting the organization in any way, shape, or form. More importantly, signing Hosmer shows the rest of the team and the fans a commitment to being legitimate, bumping the payroll up towards $90 million. That now dwarfs teams like the large-market Phillies, who opened up spring training with just over $60 million in player obligations.

In the grand scheme of things, the Hosmer signing is also a good sign given the standstill in the free agent market. Many veteran players — even reliever Fernando Abad, who posted a 3.30 ERA last season — had to settle for minor league contracts instead of guaranteed major league deals. Many others, including the likes of Jake Arrieta and J.D. Martinez, remain unsigned. The rumor that Hosmer wanted more than seven years and close to $150 million was laughed at last month. Agent Scott Boras was still able to get his client the deal he wanted, which could bode well for those still teamless. Martinez’s patience may yet be rewarded like Hosmer’s was; money may once again start flowing in the free agent economy.

In summation, the Eric Hosmer contract is good if: you are Eric Hosmer, related to or a friend of Eric Hosmer, a teammate of Hosmer’s, Scott Boras, a current or soon-to-be free agent, a Padres fan, and a baseball fan in general. The Hosmer contract is bad if: you are a penny-pinching owner of a Major League Baseball team, or someone who cares more about $/WAR than an actual good product being put on the field.