CHICAGO (AP) — Eric Hosmer agreed to a $720,000, one-year contract with the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, giving the team another option at first base and designated hitter.
A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a successful physical.
Hosmer’s contract is for the major league minimum while the San Diego Padres are on the hook for the last part of a $144 million, eight-year deal that was finalized in February 2018.
The Cubs have been active this offseason, also agreeing to free agent deals with shortstop Dansby Swanson, right-hander Jameson Taillon, outfielder Cody Bellinger, reliever Brad Boxberger and catcher Tucker Barnhart. They also brought back left-hander Drew Smyly after he had a 3.47 ERA in 22 starts for the team last year.
Hosmer, Swanson, Bellinger and Barnhart have all won at least one Gold Glove. Cubs outfielder Ian Happ also won his first Gold Glove last season.
“I mean we’re going to have Gold Glovers all over the field, and that says something,” Barnhart said earlier Wednesday in his first public comments since his contract was finalized. “I think it gives pitchers a lot of confidence, to know they don’t have to be super fine and pitch for the strikeout all the time.”
Bellinger can play first, but he is lined up for center field. The Cubs also have Matt Mervis, who bashed 36 homers over three minor league stops last season, but he is looking for his big league debut.
The addition of Hosmer gives Chicago an experienced first baseman who also could contribute at DH if Mervis plays his way into a regular role.
The 33-year-old Hosmer played for San Diego and Boston last season, batting .268 with eight homers and 44 RBIs in 104 games. He was traded to Boston in August, and then he was designated for assignment by the Red Sox last month.
Hosmer was drafted by Kansas City with the No. 3 pick in the 2008 amateur draft and made his big league debut with the Royals in 2011. He was a key performer on Kansas City’s 2015 World Series championship team.
Hosmer is a .277 hitter with 196 homers and 879 RBIs in 1,658 career games. He hit a career-best 25 homers in 2016 and 2017, and he set a career high with 104 RBIs in 2017.
Barnhart, who turns 32 on Saturday, said he was told by Cubs manager David Ross that he basically would split time behind the plate with Yan Gomes. Willson Contreras was the starting catcher for Chicago last season, but he signed an $87.5 million, five-year contract with St. Louis during free agency.
Barnhart returns to the NL Central after struggling in his only season with Detroit. He spent his first eight seasons with Cincinnati, winning Gold Gloves in 2017 and 2020.
“I had a bad year. I’ll be the first one to tell you, and I don’t mind saying that,” said Barnhart, who batted .221 in 94 games with the Tigers. “But I think when you’re in spots where you have to kind of dig yourself out, you learn the most about yourself, and you learn how to persevere through those situations.”
Also Wednesday, the Cubs announced they had traded right-hander Erich Uelmen to Philadelphia for a cash consideration. Uelmen was designed for assignment when the team finalized its contract with Smyly on Dec. 24.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
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