Report: Chicago Cubs sign Eric Hosmer as team looks for 1B upgrade

Michael Brakebill
Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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After what felt like months of speculation, the Chicago Cubs are close to an agreement with veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer. The good news, whether you love or hate the move, is that the Cubs would only be on the hook for the league minimum, so worst-case scenario, if he massively underperforms, the club will cut him and move on. There's hardly any risk there, financially speaking.

For those blowing the Matt Mervis getting blocked whistle, keep in mind that, even with Hosmer in the mix, there's no reason to think Mervis won't get a real shot to win the job in camp next month. And, let's be real: Mervis isn't exactly a sure thing, so having at least some sort of alternative outside Patrick Wisdom isn't the worst idea in the world.

Cubs aren't betting anything on Eric Hosmer in 2023

Offensively, Hosmer has lacked pop in his bat but still managed a .277/.336/.428 lifetime slash and has managed an above-average wRC+ in six of the last eight seasons. With a 2022 wOBA of .326 when no shift is being implemented, Hosmer's ground ball rate (58 percent against LHP, 52 percent against RHP) makes him a prospective beneficiary of the shift being banned starting in 2023 so he could see an uptick in his batting average next year.

For the Cubs, especially with the financial flexibility it provides the front office, Hosmer is not a bad bat to place in the bottom third of the lineup. Chicago still lacks a much-needed power bat, but it will not happen at this juncture of free agency. Hosmer's career 19% strikeout rate, coupled with solid on-base skills in the form of drawing walks and hitting for average, make him a perfectly viable option. He slashes .287/.353/.457/119 wRC+ against right-handed hurlers for his career.

Next. The Chicago Cubs need to help Matt Mervis. dark

The Cubs needed another lefty for matchup purposes and found one that cost them practically nothing. It allows the front office to pick up another bat or bulk up the bullpen. There's no reason to believe this team's offense can't be above league average in 2023, especially if bounceback candidates like Cody Bellinger return to form. It will be interesting to see how Hosmer performs at Wrigley Field, where he owns a .270/.361/.365 in 63 career at-bats.

EDITOR UPDATE:

The Chicago Cubs have indeed signed Hosmer for the league-minimum.

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