Padres ‘Deep in Trade Talks’ on Eric Hosmer, Cubs and Mets Reportedly Involved

Recent Developments Make Mets More Likely

Breaking: I could have put this way at the end in order to get more of that sweet, sweet engagement, but I figured I’d save everyone the time. There will be no deal between the Mets and Padres, but you can feel free to read on if you’d like my thoughts on the matter, including how the Cubs might have been involved.

If you thought you’d heard the last of the Cubs being interested in swinging a deal with the Padres centered around Eric Hosmer, think again. As Jon Heyman tweeted in the wee hours of Saturday morning, San Diego is “deep in trade talks with a couple teams.” One of those is believed to be the Cubs, who lit a fire when they discussed a potential deadline deal that would have brought catching prospect Luis Campusano to Chicago and have been tending the flames ever since.

The Cubs’ strategy this offseason also points to something bigger on the horizon, whether it’s their “muddy” outfield situation or a glut of middle infielders. Of course, it could all just fizzle in a series of procedural moves. That might be the case if there’s another team with a more pressing need to shore up its roster, which is certainly the case for the other squad mentioned by Heyman.

The Mets were in dire straights following the diagnosis of a stress reaction in Jacob deGrom‘s shoulder and now they’ve scratched Max Scherzer from his start in Saturday’s intrasquad game due to a hamstring issue. Even if the latter isn’t too serious, owner Steve Cohen has shown that he’s more than willing to spend money to put a competitive team on the field.

That means giving his front office carte blanche to do whatever it takes, which in this case would be a much more involved trade than what the Cubs were likely looking at. While the Cubs were angling to “buy” a prospect in exchange for taking on Hosmer’s remaining payroll obligation, the Mets would send outfielder Dom Smith to San Diego for cash and two pitchers in addition to Hosmer.

This is a little weird all the way around, though, because it’s really just a shell game of mediocrity in which the Padres clear a little salary space and don’t have to part with a top prospect. They’ve already got a first base platoon with Luke Voit and Matt Beaty, making Hosmer even more expendable, and Paddack no longer figures to be part of the regular rotation. Emilio Pagan, the other reported player in the trade, is a serviceable reliever whose ERA has been 4.50 or higher the last two seasons.

Smith had solid seasons in 2019 and ’20, but he produced -0.5 fWAR last year while playing more than 89 games for the first time ever. He also generated -1.1 cumulative fWAR across 332 plate appearances in ’17 and ’18, so the truncated COVID season looks like even more of an aberration. He lacks pop, particularly for a corner outfielder, and his glove isn’t a calling card.

Hosmer would give the Mets a little bit of a defensive upgrade at first and they’d be able to keep Pete Alonso in the lineup as DH, but we’re not talking about a big boost. Overall, this is really very meh once you get down to it.

As someone who’s been calling for the Cubs to make a trade to acquire prospects while also adding much-needed lefty power, something similar to what’s being reported would be pretty stupid for them. There’s zero sense in having Hosmer’s salary paid down if it means you’re getting two pitchers who hardly merit roster spots even on a middling team instead of getting Campusano or more.

The only thing that makes this really interesting to me is that it could push the Mets close to or over $300 million in total payroll. It would be hilarious for Cohen to spend that much, plus the new penalties for exceeding the fourth tier of the luxury tax at $290 million, only to see the Mets implode yet again. Granted, I want deGrom and Scherzer to stay healthy because I love to watch both of them pitch.

If the Cubs can’t get their you-know-what together, give me the Metsiest Mets to ever Mets.

Update: Though it’s entirely possible the reporting is nothing more than splicing together rumors, SNY’s Andy Martino tweeted that the Mets could turn around and flip Hosmer to the Cubs. Martino later tweeted more than once that multiple teams are interested in Hosmer, which makes sense if the Padres are paying down enough of his remaining money to make him an $8 million AAV investment.

There are, however, a lot of things here that don’t make a lot of sense for the Cubs. The first is that Hosmer has a clause in his contract that grants him full no-trade rights when it comes to a second trade. He’s got limited rights against an initial deal, but neither the Mets or Cubs are on his blocked list. The other issue here is the logic, or lack thereof, behind a deal for the Cubs.

The whole reason they were interested in Hosmer in the first place was to buy a premium prospect from the Padres in exchange for taking a big chunk of his payroll off the books. If the Padres are already paying down $30 million of his remaining salary, there’s neither as much left to eat nor the same need to get a top-rated youngster in return. For a team desperate for left-handed pop, even a diminished Hosmer would be a positive addition.

But just like the deal the Mets could make, it feels like doing something for the sake of doing it. I suppose it would make a little more sense if the Cubs included some other players of their own to yield a better return from New York and clear up some of the glut they’ve got. Still seems odd though.

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