Tomase: Hosmer trade addresses Red Sox' most glaring deficiency


How many games have the Red Sox lost because of atrocious first base defense?

There's the one against the Yankees when Franchy Cordero couldn't catch a pop-up on the infield. There's the one against the Rays when Matt Strahm threw wide of the bag before Cordero inexplicably lollipopped a throw to home plate that allowed the winning run to score. There's the other one against the Rays when Bobby Dalbec failed to glove what should've been the last out from Trevor Story.

There are undoubtedly more; those are just off the top of my head. Thankfully, we shouldn't have to watch any more car wrecks.

On Tuesday, the Red Sox swooped into the breach created by a floundering Juan Soto trade to acquire four-time Gold Glove first baseman Eric Hosmer from the Padres. Hosmer had used his no-trade clause to veto a trade to the Nationals as part of the Soto blockbuster, and San Diego needed to clear at least some of his money to make the Soto trade happen.

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The Red Sox came to the rescue to acquire a player they've been stubbornly linked to for years, a 32-year-old former All-Star who won a World Series with the Royals in 2015. While there are reports that they could flip him now or at the end of the year, let's operate on the assumption that he's staying in Boston for the rest of the season.

If that's the case, acquiring him could help more than losing Christian Vazquez in a trade to the Astros hurts. At least the Red Sox have an experienced backup catcher in Kevin Plawecki to step in for Vazquez, whose offensive contributions were based more on contact than power.

They've gotten nothing all year at first base, offensively or defensively. Red Sox first basemen rank 26th in OPS and are tied for next-to-last in homers (10). They rank 29th defensively at nine runs below average, ahead of only the Rangers.

Hosmer addresses the first problem and eliminates the second. He's little more than a league-average hitter at this point, but he profiles similarly to Vazquez in that he doesn't hit for much power (eight homers), but makes contact. He has struck out just 55 times in 90 games, which is well below last year's pace of 163 Ks in 151 games.

Even if he's no longer the defender he was in his prime, he will make the basic plays that have plagued the Red Sox all year. There's value in that.

He's also the perfect mentor for prospect Triston Casas, should the hulking slugger get the call this month. The two attended the same high school -- American Heritage in Plantation, Fla. -- and have known each other since Casas was a teenager. Casas has worked out at Hosmer's house and looks up to him. There's value in that, too.

What this means as far as the buying vs. selling question remains to be seen. The Red Sox saw an opportunity to exploit San Diego's desperation to complete the Soto trade and smartly took it. Hosmer represents a more impactful everyday addition than outfielder Tommy Pham or catcher Reese McGuire, if the Red Sox want to try to continue selling the idea that they're still going for it this year.

What they decide to do with DH J.D. Martinez and right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will probably determine their fate, but if Hosmer is actually here to stay, he'll help.

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