St. Louis Cardinals: Carlos Santana or Eric Hosmer?

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Carlos Santana
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Carlos Santana /

The St. Louis Cardinals have been rumored as a candidate to sign free agent Eric Hosmer, especially if a Giancarlo Stanton trade doesn’t work out. Carlos Santana is also an interesting option at 1B.

The St. Louis Cardinals have submitted an official trade offer to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton. Hopefully, it works out and the Cardinals acquire the National League MVP and his tremendous power.

But what if it doesn’t and they have to look elsewhere to find an offensive upgrade? Two free agent first basemen are appealing options: Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana.

First, let’s take a look at Eric Hosmer. It’s predicted he will sign a six year, $132 million deal. He’s 28 years old and could be entering his prime. He’s also coming off a career-year for the Royals in which he hit .318 with 25 home runs and 94 RBI. He had a career-high .882 OPS. He also just won his 4th Gold Glove. He has won a World Series and his said to be a great teammate and leader. There is a lot to like there.

His career numbers aren’t as appealing though. His career .781 OPS ranks 21st among all MLB first basemen with at least 2000 plate appearances since 2011 (Hosmer’s first year in the league). He has 127 home runs, good for 22nd. And, his 9.9 fWAR ranks 17th during that same span.

Now, let’s take a look at Carlos Santana. He will turn 32 during the 2018 season. It’s predicted that he signs a 3 year, $45 million deal. He is coming off a year in which he hit .259 with 23 home runs and 79 RBI, good for a .818 OPS. Hosmer’s 2017 was much better. There is no argument there.

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But, for his career, many of his metrics are better than Hosmer’s. Santana entered the league in 2010 but only played 46 games (he did have a .868 OPS though). So, we’ll throw that out and look at 2011 (the year Hosmer entered the league) to now. He has a .808 OPS during that span, which ranks 13th among all 1B. He has 168 home runs, which ranks 8th. And, his 23.4 fWAR ranks 6th in Major League Baseball from 2011-2017.

Carlos Santana has never been one to hit for a high average. People can look at his .249 career batting average and knock him for it. But, he walks A LOT, trailing only Joey Votto from 2011-2017. He’s walked at least 88 times in each of his seven full seasons. Eric Hosmer has a much better batting average for his career, but hasn’t gotten on base as much either.

There are pros and cons to each player.

Negatives for Santana: he is 32 and may be starting the inevitable decline in his career. He doesn’t hit for a high average. Positives: he is much cheaper. He hits for more power and gets on base more. He is also a switch hitter.

Negatives for Hosmer: he doesn’t get on base as much and doesn’t hit for as much power. He is more expensive. Positives: he hits for a much higher average. He’s coming off a career year and is arguably in his prime. He is only 28.

For the money each is predicted to get, Santana might be the safer sign. However, Hosmer has way more upside and a higher ceiling. If he continues to replicate 2017 numbers, his contract will be well worth the $130+ million.

It’s now been reported/rumored that the Giants have the upper-hand in the Stanton trade. If that is true, one of these first basemen becomes a more realistic and needed option.

Next: Keep Weaver, Deal Weaver

Time will tell. Stay tuned.