And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Indians 14, White Sox 3: Ryan Raburn went 3 for 3 with a homer and five RBI. The Tribe put up a seven spot in the fifth inning in which the first nine batters who came to the plate reached. They keep pace with the Rays, who also won, and remain one and a half games back.

Rays 4, Red Sox 3: See, told you the Rays won. They avoid the sweep with the help of Wil Myers, who hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth. The Rays continue to lead the Yankees, who also won, by a single game.

Yankees 6, Orioles 5: See, told you the Yankees won, though it wasn’t a laugher. They blew a 5-1 lead in the seventh and then came back and won on a wild pitch. They also lost Brett Gardner to a strained oblique. Still, they’re 12 games over .500 for the first time since May. Interesting: for the second time in a couple of weeks an essentially split Phil Hughes/David Huff “start” worked out. Perhaps the Yankees should continue having Huff caddy for Hughes. Or maybe they can get some mad scientist to forge a HughesHuff Golem/Cyborg or something and let them both pitch at once. Could be cool?

Braves 6, Marlins 1: Freddy Garcia made a spot start and pitched a wonderful game. Or, as Freddie Freeman put it afterwards, “Freddy wore the MVP pants today.” I wish I had some MVP pants. All I have are a pair of Detroit Tigers Zubaz. I call those my MVP pants. The girlfriend and kids call them my “don’t you dare put those on pants.” Philistines.

Athletics 8, Twins 2: Josh Reddick homered and had three RBI and A.J. Griffin was solid. Now: a three-game series against the Rangers. If the A’s take care of business in this one, they could, practically speaking, lock up the West.

Nationals 7, Mets 2: No one showed up for Aaron Harang’s Mets debut. No crowd, no offense, no nothing. He did strike out ten, though. Not that it mattered as Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Wilson Ramos all homered and Tanner Roark and the Nats pen was stingy.

Angels 4, Blue Jays 3: Now the Angels are playing well. Better late then never, I suppose. The Blue Jays have the never, with the exception of that one blip in mid-season where, for about two weeks, they got all frisky. Anyway, arguably the most disappointing team in 2013 swept the other most disappointing team in 2013.

Pirates 3, Cubs 1: They needed that from Jeff Locke. He’s looked like garbage so often lately, but yesterday gave up one run on three hits in seven innings. The Pirates move into a tie for first place because …

Brewers 5, Cardinals 3: … The Cardinals’ five-game winning streak came to an end. Tyler Thronburg was solid for six innings. Sean Halton homered. I suppose some people in Milwaukee and their moms know who they are.

Phillies 10, Padres 5: Roy Halladay was not good at all, walking five and giving up five runs (four earned) in four and a third innings, but his lineup had no problems with the Padres. Carlos Ruiz drove in three.

Dodgers 3, Giants 2: Adrian Gonzalez with the game winning single in the 10th. The Dodgers could clinch the division against the Giants this weekend if everything breaks just right.

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.