Yankees crush Red Sox, claim AL East lead over O’s

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The Yankees exploded for nine runs in the second on the way to a 10-2 victory over the Red Sox on Monday and moved a game up on the Orioles for first place in the AL East after Baltimore lost to Tampa Bay 5-3.

The Bombers hit four homers as part of their huge frame, with Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and Mark Teixeira all going deep.

Martin’s homer was somewhat controversial, as a fan — in a Red Sox shirt, no less — reached over the wall with his cap in an attempt to haul it in. The ball, though, ended up bouncing off his wrist, suggesting that it would have hit off the top of the wall and bounced over if not for the interference. It was ruled a homer on the field, and the call went unchanged after being reviewed.

The Red Sox bounced back to outscore the Yankees 2-1 over the rest of the game, giving them something to build on for… no, really, who am I kidding?

CC Sabathia cruised to his 15th victory, allowing two runs and four hits in eight innings against a lineup that included two regulars (Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia). Clay Buchholz allowed eight of the nine runs in the second and was pulled after 1 2/3.

Tampa Bay’s win was much closer, and it at least temporarily kept the Rays in postseason contention, pending Oakland’s result tonight. Alex Cobb allowed just one run and two hits in seven innings to improve to 11-9. Rookie Wei-Yin Chen gave up four runs — one earned — in 6 2/3 innings to take the loss, leaving him 12-11.

Fernando Rodney broke his tie with Dennis Eckersley and is now in position to sport the lowest ERA of all-time after pitching a scoreless ninth for his 47th save. He’s at 0.605, down from 0.614 to begin the day. The Rays wanted to get through the game without using Rodney, but after entering to begin the ninth, Kyle Farnsworth gave up a single and a homer in what had been a 5-1 game.

The Orioles will now need some help from the Red Sox to avoid slipping into the wild card position. The Rays still have a slight chance at the second wild card, but they’ll need the A’s to lose three straight to Texas.

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

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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.