The Eric Hosmer era in Boston is over before it really even began.
On Friday evening, the Red Sox announced they traded minor-league reliever Jacob Wallace to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for reliever Wyatt Mills. To make room on the 40-man roster for Mills, the Red Sox designated Hosmer for assignment.
The Red Sox have seven days to trade Hosmer or place him on irrevocable outright waivers. Hosmer, however, has a full no-trade clause and can veto any trade the Red Sox pursue that includes him. The Red Sox could have a trade lined up that includes Hosmer, or they could have reached an impasse with him over the no-trade clause and decided to cut ties.
If placed on waivers, Hosmer could be picked up given his entire remaining salary (three years, $39 million of an original eight-year, $144 million deal signed with San Diego) is being paid by the Padres. Yet he also has the right to reject any waiver claim and elect free agency.
The Red Sox acquired Hosmer at the trade deadline in hopes his bat could boost the lineup in the second half. The Red Sox sent top-10 pitching prospect Jay Groome to San Diego in exchange for Hosmer as well as minor-league infielder Max Ferguson and outfielder Corey Rosier. As part of the deal, the Padres agreed to pay the remainder of Hosmer’s contract with any future team paying the major league minimum ($700,000 in 2022).
But Hosmer played in just 14 games following a back injury. He went 11-for-45 (.244) with three doubles and drove in four runs.
Unless there is a Hosmer-approved trade in the works, the move comes at an odd time when the Red Sox still have other players on the roster who seemingly could have been designated to make room for Mills, namely Connor Seabold, Josh Taylor, Kaleb Ort, Darwinzon Hernandez and Ryan Brasier. The potential for a trade later in the winter with fewer options on the market could have been enticing for some teams. Instead, they’ve cut ties now.
With Hosmer gone it also signals the Red Sox are all-in with Triston Casas as their starting first baseman next season. Though that was already the assumption, Hosmer’s presence on the roster created a bit of a logjam between the lefty-hitting first basemen and the potential for shared playing time. The Red Sox may still pursue a right-handed hitting first baseman as a backup for Casas, but Bobby Dalbec also remains on the roster.
In 27 games, Casas went 15-for-76 (.197) with a double and five homers while walking 19 times and striking out 23 times.
In Mills, the Red Sox added another reliever to their mix. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said earlier in the week that despite solidifying the bullpen with relievers Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin and Joely Rodriguez, they would continue to look for under-the-radar options. Mills’ big league numbers aren’t impressive, though neither were those of John Schreiber (6.28 ERA with a 25 percent strikeout rate in 28 appearances) in 2021.
Mills, a third-round pick in 2017 by the Mariners, began his career in Seattle and was traded last summer to the Royals along with a minor leaguer in exchange for Carlos Santana. In 27 appearances last year for the Mariners and Padres, he posted a 4.60 ERA and 20 percent strikeout rate, but in 33 1/3 innings in Triple A, he posted a 2.14 ERA and 30 percent strikeout rate.
Wallace, a 2019 third-rounder and Methuen, Mass. native generated some buzz as a local player in the Red Sox system. He posted a 3.81 ERA over 47 appearances for Double-A Portland last year. Though Wallace had a 30 percent strikeout rate, he also had command issues with a nearly 20 percent walk rate.
(Top photo of Hosmer: Tommy Gilligan / USA TODAY)