Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer has rejected a trade to the Nationals, tweets MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Both reporters have made clear that the Padres’ blockbuster deal to acquire Juan Soto from the Nats remains in place.
Hosmer’s eight-year contract with the Padres, signed in February 2018, includes limited no-trade protection of which the Nationals are a part. It appears the Nationals and Padres agreed to versions of the Soto trade with and without Hosmer, word of the larger Soto trade leaked to the baseball media, and then the Padres took it to Hosmer to decide. As is his contractual right, Hosmer chose not to move from the Padres, the team he chose as a free agent, to the last-place Nationals.
2022 marks Hosmer’s fifth year as a Padre, a tenure that has mostly disappointed outside of the shortened 2020 season. Hosmer has a 104 wRC+ in 934 plate appearances since the beginning of the 2021 campaign, so he’s still modestly above-average with the bat. He’s owed about $7MM for the remainder of this season, plus $39MM for 2023-25. He can opt out after this season, but that’s an unlikely scenario.
More importantly, upon the completion of the 2022 season, Hosmer will become a 10-and-5 player with the right to reject a trade to any team, not just the ten currently on his list. With first baseman Josh Bell apparently still headed to the Padres in the Soto deal and about four hours remaining until the no-trade deadline, Padres GM A.J. Preller is surely motivated to make the best deal he can for Hosmer, whether to one of the 19 teams not covered in his no-trade clause, or at least with a team to which Hosmer is willing to go. The Padres are set to host the Rockies at 3:10pm central time today, the only game starting prior to the 5pm deadline.
With Hosmer’s contract generally considered to be underwater, the Padres would likely have to include a good prospect (of which they’ve surrendered many in the last few days) to find a taker. Even with a Hosmer trade, getting under the $230MM competitive balance tax is likely impossible for the Padres given the additions of Soto, Bell, and Josh Hader. Last year, only the Dodgers and Padres paid the competitive balance tax, then set at $210MM. That marked the first time the Padres paid the tax since it was instituted.