One version of the proposed trade, as first reported by The Athletic, would have Paddack, Hosmer, reliever Emilio Pagán and cash going to the Mets for Dominic Smith. Such a deal would provide the Mets with a much-needed starting pitcher, albeit one who produced a 5.07 ERA last season. The Mets would also take on the veteran Hosmer but receive money to offset part of the $60 million he’s owed over the next four seasons.
The return would be Smith, a well-liked player within the Mets’ clubhouse who doesn’t have an obvious path to playing time. The Mets intend to find Smith at-bats at his natural position of first base, as well as at designated hitter and in left field. But they probably won’t be able to play him every day — given their commitments to Pete Alonso, Robinson Canó, JD Davis and Mark Canha. Then again, finding at-bats for Hosmer would be difficult, as well — unless the Mets made Alonso a full-time DH, a move he has expressed no interest in making.
The Padres, with a talented but flawed roster, have been looking to move Hosmer dating back to last summer’s Trade Deadline, in an effort to find payroll flexibility — perhaps so they can make further deals. Hosmer, who signed an eight-year deal in 2018, arrived at Padres camp on Saturday aware of the trade rumors, but he was hesitant to address them.
“If I’m packing my bags up right now, then maybe those thoughts come through my mind,” Hosmer said. “But I’m just treating this as a normal day, coming in here, getting my work in. If I get a tap on my shoulder later on in the day, then we’ll see what’s going on.”
They Padres remain optimistic about a bounce-back season for Paddack and team decision-makers were reluctant to part with the right-hander earlier in camp. But sources say that reluctancy has subsided of late, as top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore has made a strong push for the roster, while the newly signed Nick Martinez has essentially sewn up a rotation spot. As such, San Diego believes it would be dealing from a position of strength.
If the Mets don’t love the deal, they could also wait and try to acquire pitching later in the season. Although the deGrom’s right shoulder injury and Scherzer’s right hamstring tweak have the Mets concerned, general manager Billy Eppler said on Friday that he feels “really good about the depth that we have.” That depth most prominently includes Tylor Megill, David Peterson and Trevor Williams, all of whom are now candidates to make the season-opening rotation.
Paddack could provide a boost to that group, despite his lack of success in 2021. His FIP, which aims to measure a pitcher’s effectiveness within the context of things he can control, was more than a run lower than his ERA, suggesting that poor luck played into his struggles. A change of scenery and a change in teaching methods could unlock some of his potential.
But to take that chance, the Mets would have to part with Smith, who has rebounded from a down year in 2021 to enjoy significant success this spring.
“When you’re a good player like Dom, I think you’re used to having different scenarios discussed,” said Mets manager Buck Showalter, who acknowledged that he has been paying attention to the rumors. “I look at it … that it’s nice to be liked or wanted or whatever, if that’s the case. But just because you view it that way, doesn’t mean he views it that way. I might look at it differently. But bad players don’t get talked about much, right?”
Smith’s left-handed bat is an obvious fit in the Padres’ lineup. Earlier this week, San Diego traded for the lefty-hitting Matt Beaty, who fills a similar role, so it stands to reason that one of those two would play left field and one would play first base — with Jurickson Profar filling in occasionally, while reverting to his role as super-utility man.
For now, however, it’s Hosmer at first with Beaty and Profar slated to share time in left field. In his four years in San Diego, Hosmer has underperformed what was then a franchise-record contract, posting a .264/.323/.415 slash line. But he’s beloved in the Padres’ clubhouse and currently slated to slot into the middle of their Opening Day lineup.
“I have him on this team right now,” said Padres manager Bob Melvin. “I’ve been hearing Eric Hosmer rumors since before I even got here. It’s that time of spring. It’s been a spring where there’s been a lot of movement, so there’s naturally going to be some talk. With a few days left, there’s going to be more talk. They’re just rumors.”