Eric Hosmer keeps showing why the Cubs value his clubhouse presence
By Jake Misener
The calls for Matt Mervis' promotion to the big leagues continue to grow louder by the day and the play of veteran Cubs first baseman Eric Hosmer is doing little to silence them.
Chicago brought in Hosmer this winter, knowing full well he'd only cost the league minimum given the Padres are on the hook for the rest of his mega-deal that runs through 2025. I'd be shocked if he was still in the league by that point given his performance in recent years, but San Diego will pony up the roughly $50 million owed him between now and then.
On the year, Hosmer has mustered a measly .231/.286/.369 line, good for an 80 OPS+. His first base cohort, Trey Mancini, hasn't been much better - but there's more cause for hope there (and the fact he's on a multi-year contract the Cubs are on the hook for). Still, first base hasn't been a productive position for Chicago in 2023 - and they have a potential answer waiting in the wings in Matt Mervis.
It's a tough position for Hosmer - or anyone for that matter - to be in. But regardless of how you feel about what he's brought to the lineup to this point in his still-young Cubs career, it's already become very obvious why the front office and coaching staff value this guy in the clubhouse.
"I was in spring with Matty. I was always trying to help, give him my two cents on what’s coming for him in the league, how you can simplify some stuff. It’s not something where I’m watching over my shoulder, or living and dying by his at-bats. When it comes that time, that’s when you can move on and do something else. I know he’s going to be a big part of this organization. I’ve got to help him any way I can. "- Eric Hosmer on Matt Mervis
The fact that Hosmer understands how this whole situation is going to play out, but continues to grind and do his job everyday is a testament to his character. He's no fool: a guy who's been a league average piece for the last three years isn't going to get a roster spot on a competitive team over a reigning organizational Minor League Player of the Year who's got a .967 OPS in 348 Triple-A plate appearances.
Cubs brass continue to insist on a patient approach with both Hosmer and Mervis (for obviously different reasons) - but the writing is on the wall. Mervis will get a chance to seize the first base job before the summer's up and it's likely that opportunity could cost Hosmer, a four-time Gold Glover and former World Series champion, his spot on the team.