The Runner Sports

Eric Hosmer: A Short-Term Solution To The Lone Yankees’ Offensive Problem

When looking at the New York Yankees, there are (surprisingly) few weak spots on the team right now. The starting rotation is a bit weak on paper, but the five pitchers have been overperforming. The bullpen is as good as advertised while the offense has been one of the best in the MLB. In fact, the Yankees rank first in home runs, runs scored, batting average, and stolen bases in the AL. Powered behind the rookie sensation Aaron Judge and MLB hits leader Starlin Castro, the offense is clicking on almost all cylinders. In theory, if the Yankees were looking to improve, it must be in the starting rotation.

While it is true that the Yankees should look to add an ace to the rotation, there is a glaring hole in the offense. Chase Headley could be said to be that, who has been slumping since May began. However, Headley provides a good glove and has been serviceable at the plate. Honestly, that is all Headley has to do on offense. Currently, Headley sits at a .256 batting average. If he can keep that up, then he will be perfect for the season. Meanwhile, the other corner of the infield has been a problem for the Yankees.

First Base Needs to be Addressed

As of Friday, Chris Carter is batting .221 with only 2 home runs and 11 RBIs. Greg Bird, the player who won the starting job during Spring Training, is currently on the DL with his batting average sitting at .100. First base seemed to be the position that the Yankees could have penciled in some sort of production to start the season. Either Bird was going to keep his hot streak from Spring Training heading into the season or Carter would belt home runs at a constant rate. Neither one of those two things happened. Instead, Carter is batting ninth in the batting order.

That might be a testament to how good the Yankees’ lineup is that the powerful Chris Carter can bat in the nine spot while he slumps. However, first base should be a position where there is power or run production happening. As of right now, that is not occurring.

More Than a Yankee Problem

What is very surprising about the 2017 season across the entire league is the difference of one position between the two leagues. In the NL, first base is the best position going right now. Ryan Zimmerman is playing out of his mind (.376 with 13 HRs), Eric Thames brought over his success from South Korea, and Freddie Freeman was playing at an MVP level before being hit by a pitch on Wednesday. That does not include Paul Goldschmidt, Mark Reynolds, Joey Votto, and Wil Myers, who are also having great seasons.

Meanwhile, there are the AL first basemen. When looking over the different first basemen in the AL, it is hard to find numerous players who are playing well. Chris Davis has hit with some power (9 HRs) as well as Yonder Alonso (12 HRs). But other than that, the first base position in the AL has not been impressive at all. Eric Hosmer, who started off the season in a massive slump, has rebounded to be batting around .300, which leads all AL first basemen.

Bird is Slow to Recover

Greg Bird went on the DL with a bone bruise on his right leg. He was placed on the 10-day DL, but he is not recovering as quickly as the Yankees were hoping. Currently, he has no timetable for returning back to the MLB squad. Even with all of this extra playing time, Carter has not grabbed the starting job outright while Bird is working through his injury. Despite the Yankees wanting Bird to be the man at first, if Carter was putting up good numbers, it would be hard to take him out of the lineup.

The shocking thing about Carter’s struggles is that he is worse against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching. Against lefties, Carter is batting .194. Before Bird’s hot Spring Training, the thought with Carter was that he would platoon with Bird against lefties. That has not been the case. With Carter struggling and Bird down with injury, the Yankees need to find an answer to the first base problem.

What About Tyler Austin?

This Friday, Tyler Austin will begin his rehab stint in Tampa. Austin, who was supposed to be competing with Bird for the first base job in Spring Training, injured himself in the early days after fouling a ball off of his foot. If his rehab assignment goes well, why not throw him over at first?

It is true that the Yankees want to stay with the younger players given how deep the organization is with prospects. However, Austin does not rank high on the prospect list in any metric. Plus, his short stint last season did not set the world on fire. He batted .241 with 5 home runs in the 31 games he played in last season. Austin started his MLB career with a bang by hitting a home run in his first plate appreance, but that did not carry over for the rest of his MLB tenure. After his rehab stint, Austin should remain in Triple-A to continue to develop rather than be thrust into a starting lineup of a postseason contending team.

Crazy Idea, Trade for Eric Hosmer

Will the Yankees do this? Probably not. But they should seriously consider acquiring the two-time Gold Glove winner for first base. This should not be the only move they consider, but it is one that they might need to do. Also, it does make sense.

Why Rush the Youth?

An obvious reaction to this idea is that why would the Yankees trade for Hosmer when there is a wealth of young prospect who could fill-in. With Bird and Austin on the DL right now, there are no other true prospects at first in the Yankees’ organization. Currently, the starting first basemen for the Triple-A club is Ji-Man Choi. Though Choi is batting .358, he is not a player that the Yankees are expecting to contribute to the club. Meanwhile, prized prospects such as Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo are not even in Triple-A.

At this point, why rush along young prospects? The Yankees are ahead of schedule currently (if they keep up their current pace). Bird and Austin are still trying to recover from injuries, Choi is not an ideal replacement, and Carter is not doing it. Hosmer would provide instant relief for the Yankees at first.

Obvious Caveat, Do Not Overspend

When it comes to the Yankees, it seems that this caveat will be attached to almost any trade rumor, whisper, idea, or theory. However, it is important to point this out. Despite the fact that Hosmer is a two-time Gold Glove winner and an All-Star, the Yankees should not sell the farm in order to rent him. Key word there was “rent.” Hosmer is a free agent after this season, which makes him an ideal first baseman to acquire. With that said, the Yankees should not be giving up any of the top 5 prospects that they have in their organization.

If there was a trade to be had for Hosmer, the Yankees should trade away from a position of strength. That would either be the outfield or middle infield. That is where the Yankees are having great success at the MLB level with plenty of prospects in the organization to boot. Maybe one top 10 prospects, but other than that, Brian Cashman cannot give away too many young players for a rental player.

Rental Player Will Not Prevent Growth

Another obvious statement that can be made against this idea is that trading for Eric Hosmer would stunt the growth of Tyler Austin or Greg Bird. That would be true if Hosmer had another season on his current contract. However, he does not. Realistically, Hosmer would only be holding down Bird or Austin for two months of this season. If the Yankees are going to make a postseason run, it is more important to have a key player acquired rather than worry about stepping on the younger players. After the 2017 season, the Yankees can fully get behind Bird or Austin moving forward as they allow Hosmer to leave somewhere else in free agency.

The Royals Could Make a Reasonable Deal

Once again, the fact that Eric Hosmer will be a free agent at the end of the season can help the Yankees in making a smart deal. With how bad the Royals have been this season, the odds of Hosmer re-signing with the team are dwindling as the season goes on. Currently, the Royals sit in the basement of the AL Central with a 17-23 record. There is little hope that they will rebound to compete for the postseason this season. With other key players in their contact seasons (Lorenzo Cain, Jason Vargas, Mike Moustakas), the Royals might be looking to deal some players.

Between all of the players who are going to be free agents, Hosmer probably ranks as top priority for the Royals. If they feel like they can retain him, then the price tag for Hosmer will be sky high. However, if there is a feeling that he will be leaving no matter what, then GM Dayton Moore might be wanting to deal Hosmer to make sure that the Royals receive something before Hosmer leaves. Depending on desperation, Moore might make a decent deal for the Yankees.

Odds Are Not Favorable

Realistically, this deal will never happen. If the Yankees are going to go to outside sources for first base help, it will be on a cheaper option. Perhaps someone like Yonder Alonso could be added at a cheaper price than Hosmer. However, the odds are that the Yankees will wait for Bird or Austin to prove that they are not the guys rather than be proactive. Honestly, that is okay if the rest of the offense keeps rolling as they are right now. The better option is to go after an ace for the rotation rather than fix the one cog in the offense.

Griffin Fuller
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Griffin Fuller

Former Division 1 pitcher at Stetson University with an immense passion for the game of baseball. Grew up playing baseball from the age of 3. Student of the game of baseball in every aspect.Located out of Debary, Florida.
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Griffin Fuller
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