Two years ago, the rebuilding San Diego Padres made a big free agent splash, signing first baseman Eric Hosmer, late of the Kansas City Royals, to a five-year, $105 million contract. If Hosmer decided not to exercise his opt-out clause after the fifth year, the contract would become an eight-year, $144 million pact, then the largest deal signed in the history of the San Diego Padres.
The argument against the Hosmer signing was pretty simple: Eric Hosmer wasn’t very good. Among first basemen from 2011-2017, the years since Hosmer’s rookie season, he ranked just 17th in WAR. When a rate stat like wRC+ is used, Hosmer drops to 26th among first basemen with 1000 plate appearances:
Top 20 First Basemen by WAR, 2011-2017
The opt-out only complicated matters, resulting in a contract projected to span eight years in most of the scenarios when the Padres would hope it would last five, and the reverse when the Padres felt the opposite. At the time of the signing, ZiPS evaluated San Diego’s deal as being worth $53 million more than the system would offer Hosmer over eight years. Using a model for the likelihood of a player opting out (an educated guess, as there are…