Mariano Rivera would prefer Dustin Pedroia as his second baseman over Robinson Cano

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It’s moot because (a) Mariano Rivera doesn’t play baseball for a living anymore; and (b) even if he did, Robinson Cano doesn’t play for the Yankees anymore. But if you think those two little facts are going to get in the way of these quotes from Rivera’s new book blowing up big, you’re not familiar with the Red Sox-Yankees Industrial Complex.

First, his thoughts on Cano, excerpted by the New York Daily News:

“This guy has so much talent I don’t know where to start . . . There is no doubt that he is a Hall of Fame caliber (player). It’s just a question of whether he finds the drive you need to get there. I don’t think Robby burns to be the best … You don’t see that red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players.”

Then, on Dustin Pedroia:

“Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for 27 outs. It’s a special thing to see. If I have to win one game, I’d have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman.”

Others in and around the Yankees have questioned Cano’s motivation and effort in the past and Pedroia has long been praised for his passion and intensity and all of that. Obviously they’re both great players, each has proven that if they’re your starting second baseman you can win a World Series and debates will rage for years about who was better. Personally, I’d take Cano’s durability and production over Pedroia’s, I’d take Pedroia’s contract over Cano’s and if I had one game to pick only one to be in there I’d wonder how in the hell that set of impossible and hypothetical circumstances came to be.

But such nuances are lost when it comes to this sort of thing. I expect reporters to try to put both Cano and Pedroia on the spot about this. I expect it to be portrayed as a big controversy as opposed to some mildly interesting comments in the course of a long book and I expect at least one sort of outraged and ridiculous column to come of it assassinating one of the three principles’ character in all of this. Maybe two.

Put simply: I expect this to go like every other silly Yankees-Red Sox dustup. Which is OK, because those are kind of fun.

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.