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First baseman Eric Hosmer agreed to sign with the San Diego Padres on Saturday night, hoping to supercharge their rebuilding efforts and landing their biggest free agent prize in franchise history, sources familiar with the deal told Yahoo Sports.
The 28-year-old Hosmer, ranked fourth in Yahoo Sports’ Ultimate Free Agent Tracker, parlayed a career-best season at the plate into a lucrative deal that will last eight years (with an opt out after five) for $144 million. It’s the first nine-figure deal ever given out by the Padres. The deal was first reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
With it, they confer upon Hosmer the duty to lead the franchise in coming years. It’s a role at which he excelled in Kansas City, which selected him with the third overall pick in the 2008 draft, saw him debut three years later, won a championship with him four years after that and last season watched him hit .318/.385/.498. While opinions range widely on his defense – metrics say he’s terrible, scouts adore him – Hosmer’s all-around game is seen by evaluators as a hallmark.
He entered a free agent market crowded with players, though he was clearly a tier above Carlos Santana, whom the Philadelphia Phillies gave $60 million for three years. That was simply an appetizer for Hosmer, whose combination of age and talent was too tempting for the Padres to let him pass.
Still, the price of Hosmer’s deal was the object of significant discussion throughout the industry. The Boston Red Sox passed on Hosmer, sticking with Mitch Moreland for a two-year, $13 million deal. The Royals and Padres were the two linked to him the most, and while neither regularly dabbles in the elite free agent market, San Diego ended up winning in the end.
For what they’ll pay him, they can only hope his offensive production at least mirrors last season’s. Questions about Hosmer’s bat holding up over the course of the entire contract scared off some teams, but agent Scott Boras wasn’t budging. And though the market wasn’t bustling by the end, it was big enough to land Hosmer the largest deal thus far of the 2017-18 offseason.