Should Washington trade for Eric Hosmer if it means bolstering the farm system?
Despite the recent firesale where the Nationals acquired 12 prospects, their farm system still has a ways to go. As of August, MLB Pipeline had their farm ranked 20th in the league. Recently the Nationals signed Christian Vaquero in international free agency and the 2022 MLB draft will help further boost the farm, but Washington can still make some moves to further bolster it.
For instance, FanGraphs predicts the Nationals 2022 payroll at $136,443,333, leaving Mike Rizzo and company plenty of room to trade for a bad contract. Salary dumps are common in baseball, with teams attaching prospects in order to free up money.
San Diego in particular is looking to move some of their larger contracts in order to free up money. With FanGraphs projecting their 2022 payroll at $214,774,048, San Diego is on pace to exceed the luxury tax for the second straight season. This would lead to them paying a 30% penalty.
San Diego has been committed to moving either Wil Myers or Eric Hosmer with the latter being brought up in recent trade talks. It was reported that both the Cubs and Rangers had checked in at the past trade deadline and were asking for top prospects in return.
While San Diego may be reluctant to move one of their top prospects, but if they are truly committed to moving Hosmer’s contract, then they need to bite the bullet. Washington should jump at the chance to add to their improving farm system.
Why A Eric Hosmer Trade Makes Sense
San Diego has been trying to get rid of Eric Hosmer’s contract for over a year now. He has four years left on his contract and is owed $59 million. Over his four years with the Padres, he’s slashing .264/.323/.415, with 61 homers, 269 RBIs, and an OPS of .738.
Primarily a firstbasemen, Hosmer would be blocked by Josh Bell in D.C., but would be a prime candidate to DH. It is widely assumed the universal DH will be implemented as part of the new CBA. No longer the slugger he was with the Royals, Hosmer would still offer some middle of the lineup production.
Washington has the 20th ranked farm system per MLB Pipeline and with money to spend, should take advantage if it receives a top prospect in return.
What Would A Proposed Eric Hosmer Trade Look Like?
San Diego’s farm system has become top-heavy, with four prospects being named to MLB Pipelines Top 100. Obviously, top prospect CJ Abrams is off-limits and it wouldn’t make sense to ask for catcher Luis Campusano. Keibert Ruiz is seen as the Nationals catcher of the future and would block Campusano on the depth chart.
Instead, the Nationals’ focus should be on Robert Hassell III. In return, the Nationals can offer pitching prospects Mason Denaburg and Tim Cate.
Primarily a centerfielder, Hassell can also play both corner spots. Drafted eighth overall in 2020, he is known for his bat. He spent this past season at A and A+ hitting .302, with 11 homers, 76 RBIs, and an OPS of .863.
MLB Pipeline broke down Hassell’s offensive profile stating,
"“Hassell separated himself from his peers as the best pure high school hitter in the 2020 Draft. A combination of excellent hand-eye coordination and physical strength allows Hassell to repeatedly barrel balls with his impactful left-handed swing. He gets good plate coverage with his long arms and lashes line drives to all fields when he’s at his best, projecting as a plus hitter. He controls the zone well for a young player, showing on-base skills on top of the natural hitting ability. Padres officials are increasingly confident that Hassell will exceed his power projections in the pro ranks, and they point to his currently hitting ability and remaining physical development as reasons to be optimistic.”"
San Diego may be unwilling to part with the talented outfielder, but in order to move Hosmer’s contract, they need to make it worth Washington’s while.
Denaburg and Cate, the Nats 2018 first and second-round picks respectively have started to lose their luster. Denaburg dealt with injuries in high school and that has followed him to the minors. He made his debut in 2019 at the Gulf Coast League, posting a 7.52 ERA, with 19 strikeouts, before undergoing shoulder surgery.
He has yet to return to the mound because he recently underwent Tommy John surgery, but is set to return in 2022. Due to his arsenal and size, he has what it takes to be an MLB starter, but just needs to find a way to stay on the field.
Washington’s 2018 second-round pick, Cate was named the Nationals 2019 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, after posting a 3.07 ER, with 139 strikeouts in 29 starts across A and A+. Unfortunately, he has yet to build upon that success. He struggled this past season, posting a 5.31 ERA in 21 starts at AA, while opponents hit .288 against him. His fastball ranges in the low 90s, but his success stems from his curveball which he has an impressive feel for.
This trade would allow the Padres to add two pitchers who could benefit from a change of scenery and still have a chance to become reliable starters. At the same time they move Hosmer’s contract, while the Nationals continue to build for the future.