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Red Sox play surprise hand dealt to them at trading deadline, acquire Eric Hosmer – The Boston Globe

The Sox landed Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer and two prospects in exchange for left-handed triple-A Jay Groome. San Diego will pay almost all of the $44 million owed to Hosmer, with the Sox only having to pay major league minimum wage to acquire the four-time Gold Glover.

The Sox saw the addition of Hosmer — in addition to Monday’s offers for outfielder Tommy Pham and receiver Reese McGuire — as making up for the loss of Vázquez and reliever Jake Diekman, while considering the addition of four prospects (despite Groome’s subtraction) as a health gain for the agricultural system.

With the addition of Hosmer, the Sox entered into a partial action deadline. They didn’t gut their club for the prospects. They haven’t lost the payroll needed to fall under the luxury tax threshold. They did not tackle their deficient bullpen, but instead thinned out their relief corps by dealing with Diekman. While Hosmer will improve his defense, he also introduced an element of uncertainty by parting ways with Vázquez.

The collective moves seemed indecisive — perhaps appropriate for a team that was 52-52 going into Tuesday’s game, good enough for a playoff shot but no guarantee of contention.

“If you had asked me [Monday] At night, I would’ve thought we’d make more moves than we did [Tuesday]said Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom. “[But] when you have a chance in the playoffs, a real chance, even if it’s not the chance you hoped to have, or even the chance you had a month ago, it’s not something that we take lightly. And we wanted to do what we could to bolster that opportunity while making the right choices for the organization.

“At the end of the day, we weren’t going to force anything that didn’t fit those goals.”

Eric Hosmer, a Gold Glover, should provide immediate defensive improvement at first base.Richard W. Rodriguez/Associated Press

Still, the Sox explored many scenarios leading up to the deadline. But it quickly became apparent that player demands from Juan Soto to Shohei Ohtani to A wide receiver Sean Murphy would far exceed anything the team was comfortable doing.

More recently, according to multiple industry sources, the Sox discussed potential trades involving Eovaldi, Martinez and Hill on Tuesday. But the Sox were looking for what other teams saw as extremely high returns — top prospects in some proposals, both big leaguers and prospects in others.

“[It] felt like they just wanted to see if anyone would go stupid,” an AL reviewer said.

With no teams willing to pay such rental fees, the Sox kept their big league roster together, hoping deadline additions and players soon to return from injury (Hill, Michael Wacha, Trevor Story and Kiké Hernández) can propel a playoff series. offer.

“Put simply, we think we have a shot at a run,” Bloom said. “When we have a shot like this, even if it’s not the shot we were hoping to get in April, we set the bar high before we throw that shot.”

When the deadline passed with the addition of Hosmer and no other departures, the Sox players in Houston experienced relief and some excitement.

“It’s like New Year’s Eve – 3, 2, 1, fireworks,” manager Alex Cora said of the deadline. “We get a phone call [saying no one else has been traded] Here we go again. There’s a lot of excitement. For how much we were [after the Vázquez trade on Monday]there’s a lot of horny people in the clubhouse guarding some of these guys for a push.

The Hosmer deal was the unexpected side result of a blockbuster that did not initially involve the Sox.

Early Tuesday, the Padres landed megastar Juan Soto and first baseman Josh Bell from the Nationals. Hosmer, who has more than three years left on the eight-year, $144 million contract, was initially among the players heading to Washington. But the first baseman, who had the Nationals on a 10-team no-trade slate, vetoed the deal, leaving the Padres to scramble.

In previous years, teams had discussed deals in which the Sox would assume Hosmer’s contract and receive a better prospect in return. More recently, San Diego and the Sox discussed deals, including a receiver trade from Vázquez for Austin Nola with Hosmer and other parties.

But on Tuesday, San Diego — anxious to avoid a conflagration at the clubhouse — returned to the Sox with a new proposal. The Padres would pay all of Hosmer’s roughly $44 million, except for the big league minimum.

San Diego will pay almost all of the $44 million owed to Hosmer, with the Sox only expected to pay major league minimum wage.Derrick Tuskan/Associated Press

The teams then found a prospect swap, with San Diego sending a pair of lower-tier prospects — infielder Max Ferguson (the No. 23 prospect in the Padres system, according to Baseball America) and outfielder Corey Rosier (no ranked) – while recovering Groome, a 2016 first-round pick who never returned to his top-flight potential after Tommy John’s 2018 surgery.

The ability to add Hosmer at no real salary cost gave the Sox an obvious chance to level up. The team’s first base production this year has been abysmal, near the bottom of average MLB (.203, 29th), OBP (.278, 27th) and slugging (.349, 28th) teams, with abysmal defense .

Hosmer, 32, is hitting .272/.336/.391 with eight homers — good for a 112 OPS+. He won his last Gold Glove in 2017 and now ranks as an average defenseman, a description that’s a huge improvement for the Sox.

“Without saying anything that isn’t obvious, we’ve struggled to find stability at first base this year and we believe Eric will provide that,” Bloom said.

With the additions of Hosmer, Pham and McGuire, along with the prospects, the Sox believe they’ve done justice to any wrestling hopes while adding to their farm system. It wasn’t necessarily the path the team was planning, but ultimately the Sox decided it was their best path to take.

“I think we have a roster that I hope will be more functional than what we’ve seen in these first four months, especially since we’re healthier,” Bloom said. “[And] I think we have also strengthened the organization in the future.


Alex Speier can be contacted at alex.speier@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.


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