The Padres’ pursuit of Eric Hosmer has been one of the more surprising storylines of the 2017-18 offseason, and executive chairman Ron Fowler directly acknowledged his team’s pursuit of the longtime Royals star in an interview on the Mighty 1090 Morning Show in San Diego (link with full audio of the interview).
“We’ve had a lot of dialogue on it — [GM A.J. Preller, manager Andy Green and assistant GM Josh Stein] obviously lead the discussions as it relates to players,” said Fowler. “They talked to me probably six months or so ago when they looked at who the free agents would be for 2018. They like him. They like his makeup, they like his leadership in the clubhouse, and obviously they like him as an athlete. We met with him, and he’s a very impressive individual.”
The Padres are reported to have made a seven-year offer to Hosmer and agent Scott Boras, and while word of that offer came in earlier this month, Fowler didn’t suggest that there’ve been any changes to what has been proposed. Moreover, he implied that he’s not exactly comfortable stretching the deal much further. Asked about concerns of paying for too much of a player’s decline phase, Fowler indicated that Boras may have a hard time selling him on a lengthier deal.
“I think you’re taking my side of the discussions I’ve had with [Green, Preller and Stein],” Fowler replied. “They feel that this guy is so focused, he has all of the exercise stuff, all of the elements in place to take care of himself like few players have. He would be 28 in the first year, obviously 34 would be his last year if it’s seven, but I can’t really get into it more than that. But I think we were pretty creative in the way we put a contract proposal together. We like it. I don’t know if Mr. Boras likes it, but that’s probably another story.”
The pursuit of Hosmer is just one of the many elements of the Padres’ offseason that some feel have clashed with the team’s rebuilding direction. In addition to putting forth a (presumed) nine-figure offer to Hosmer, San Diego has also traded a fairly well-regarded pitching prospect (right-hander Enyel De Los Santos) for a one-year rental of Freddy Galvis and taken on the final year of Chase Headley’s contract as a means of landing Bryan Mitchell from the Yankees. Fowler confirmed that Headley trade was almost entirely about Mitchell and stressed that the team is still focused on the development of young talent.
“We still are looking for the young guys to get up here that we either picked through the draft or signed internationally,” he explained. “But A.J. looked at who the pitchers were out there, and some of the guys were getting three-year contracts … [H]e felt that Bryan Mitchell, the guy we got from the Yankees, was worth taking the last year of the contract for Chase. We’re happy that Chase will be here — we think he’ll be here — but it was really for Mitchell that we paid that money, it wasn’t for Chase.”
Fowler went on to add that the team’s preference was to add players that will remain under control for several seasons. While Galvis, of course, does not match that description — he’ll be a free agent next winter — Fowler revealed that he hopes the switch-hitting shortstop can be retained beyond 2018.
“I’m hoping Galvis will be here for more than a year, take some pressure off some of the young guys coming up,” he stated. “…We’re feeling very good about that trade and what he might be able to do for us over the next few years.”
Of course, Fernando Tatis Jr. is widely expected to be the Padres’ shortstop of the future, though the vaunted top prospect isn’t yet ready for the Majors after spending most of 2017 in A-ball. If the team were able to retain Galvis beyond the upcoming season, it wouldn’t necessarily indicate a change of plans as pertains to Tatis, however; Galvis could provide some reasonably priced insurance and could potentially see time at other positions. That could further a current “problem” the organization is facing, which Fowler described as having “too many people at second and third right now” before noting that the logjam would likely work itself out.
The Padres have already traded Yangervis Solarte to the Blue Jays, but they still have Carlos Asuaje, Cory Spangenberg and Headley as options that figure to be on the 25-man roster come Opening Day, while Allen Cordoba, Tatis and Luis Urias loom in the minors.
The interview with Fowler covers considerably more topics, ranging from the team’s recent hiring of former Fangraphs managing editor Dave Cameron, to the team’s uniforms and their failed pursuit of Shohei Ohtani. (Fowler reveals that Preller began the team’s presentation to Ohtani by speaking in Japanese for the first five minutes or so and expresses immense pride for the work his team put into that pursuit.) The San Diego chairman also weighs in on the stalled free agent market, suggesting a belief that the luxury tax and a number of players whose asking prices are simply “really beyond their value” have combined to grind free agency to a halt.
Suffice it to say, the 16-minute interview is packed with topics that’ll be of interest not only to Padres fans but to baseball and hot stove fans in general. It’s well worth a full listen.