The Chicago Cubs appear to be zeroing in on their new first baseman as the team has reportedly gained momentum in their talks with free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer.
The Cubs have been linked to Hosmer since the Major League Baseball trade deadline in 2021. The belief was the Cubs were interested in taking on the remainder of Hosmer's contract with the idea of buying a top prospect from the San Diego Padres. A trade between the Cubs and Padres never materialized and the veteran first baseman was dealt to the Boston Red Sox at the Major League Baseball trade deadline last season. The Red Sox designated Hosmer for assignment two weeks ago and the first baseman has reached free agency. With the Padres remaining on the hook for the remainder of the 8-year, $144MM deal Hosmer signed in 2018, a team could, in theory, add Hosmer on the league minimum and continue to pay him that amount until the deal expires in 2025.
There is no question that Hosmer would certainly be an upgrade at the first base position for the Cubs but his fit with the team is not a simple idea. Hosmer slashed .268/.334/.382 between 419 plate appearances with the Padres and Red Sox but 2022 continued the power decline for the 33-year-old that has been prevalent for the past two seasons. Hosmer hit 8 home runs last season and had a .113 ISO.
There is no question that Hosmer would be an upgrade over any option the Cubs have had at the first base position in 2022. The question with Hosmer's fit, however, is with first base prospect Matt Mervis. Mervis is expected to be at the Major League level at some point this season and with both players batting from the left side, a platoon does not appear to be in the works. Though, a possible platoon path would be Hosmer getting starts against left-handed pitchers with effective sliders.
It would seem pretty likely that the Cubs will add Hosmer officially in the coming days. While the Cubs certainly should have had a higher target at the first base position, there is no question that Hosmer will add balance as he is a left-handed bat and does project to be a league-average hitter next season with a .322 wOBA and 109 wRC+.