It’s no secret the Padres have been interested in Rangers star Joey Gallo for at least the past few weeks. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News sheds some light on the teams’ conversations, reporting that San Diego has inquired about Texas’ willingness to acquire Eric Hosmer as part of the deal. If Texas were willing to take on some of Hosmer’s contract, the Friars could potentially make top outfield prospect Robert Hassell III available, according to Grant.
Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin of the Athletic reported earlier this week that the Padres were discussing potential Hosmer trades. The goal, of course, would be to clear some of the first baseman’s remaining contract from the books. Hosmer signed an eight-year, $144MM deal during the 2017-18 offseason. He’s playing this season on a $20MM salary (of which around $7.2MM remains through the end of the year), and he’ll make the same amount next season. He’ll make $13MM each season from 2023-25, unless he triggers an opt-out clause after the 2022 campaign.
Rosenthal and Lin reported that San Diego currently sits a couple million dollars north of the $210MM luxury tax threshold. While ownership is reportedly willing to exceed that mark, the Padres have also explored ways to duck back underneath, with a potential Hosmer deal part of that equation.
Unsurprisingly, Grant writes that the Friars would have to include some amount of cash to facilitate a swap involving Hosmer and Gallo. Hosmer’s hitting an average .265/.329/.378 through 363 plate appearances this season, hardly enough to hold much appeal to other teams given his significant price tag.
The Rangers’ long-term books are relatively open, which could make Texas more receptive to taking on some of Hosmer’s contract in order to add one of the game’s most dynamic prospects to the farm system. Hassell was the eighth overall pick in last year’s draft, and he’s hitting .307/.403/.455 across 325 plate appearances in Low-A this season. Baseball America ranked the 19-year-old the game’s #50 overall prospect in their midseason top 100 update.
Of course, doing so would require parting with Gallo, who is hitting a fantastic .223/.379/.490 with 25 home runs through 388 trips to the plate this year. With Gallo only controllable through 2022 and Texas looking unlikely to contend as soon as next season, he’s a sensible trade candidate. It doesn’t seem a lock he’ll be moved, as Texas has attempted to broker an extension with the slugger. However, Grant writes the sides have apparently “made little in the way of progress” on a long-term deal in recent days.
Failure to work out an extension wouldn’t make a Gallo trade a foregone conclusion, but it would make a deal seem likely. In addition to the Padres, the Yankees and Blue Jays have previously been tied to Gallo, and Grant adds that the Braves have “inquired” about his availability as well.
Gallo’s athletic enough to handle the outfield or first base, broadening his appeal to potential suitors. If a deal involving Hosmer, cash and prospects sent Gallo to San Diego, the two-time All-Star would likely step in as the Friars regular first baseman. Atlanta already has franchise icon Freddie Freeman entrenched at first and is surely looking at Gallo as a potential outfield option.