Padres spring training position preview: first base

From now until Spring Training concludes, Fox Sports San Diego will preview each player at each position that is in big league camp.

Previous position previews:

Catchers 

Pitchers

Today we will take a look at first base, a position in which the Padres organization expects stability for the next several years:

Lock to start: Eric Hosmer

Breaking news here.

The Padres’ signing of Eric Hosmer allows Andy Green to pencil him into the lineup on an everyday basis from now until at least 2022. Last year, Hosmer had the best season of his career. He hit .318 with 25 home runs for the Kansas City Royals en route to a career-high 4.1 fWAR. Those numbers might have been even better if not for a poor opening month of the season. From May 1 on, the 28-year-old hit .335/.402/.533 with a 149 wRC+.

San Diego is hoping that is just the beginning.

Hosmer was also brought on for his veteran leadership and intangibles… Or, as Scott Boras called it many times this offseason, “prestige value.” The Padres are banking on Hosmer to be a guiding force for the young players currently on the big league roster as well as the players who will break into the big leagues in the upcoming years.

So far, Hosmer has embraced the role. He has even given everyone #HotTalentLava shirts:

Backup options

Eric Hosmer played in all 162 games last season, which is no small task. He probably wants to do it again, too. But if he cannot, the Padres have a couple of backup options in camp.

With the signing of Hosmer, Wil Myers will move to the outfield full-time in 2018. Whether it is in right or left, that has not yet been determined. Despite the transition, his experience at first (157 games played in 2016, 155 in ’17) makes him a viable candidate to spell Hosmer a day here and there. Last season, Myers hit a career-high 30 home runs and stole 20 bags. However, he did strike out at a career high clip (27.7%), hit only .243, and his 1B defense fell off from what it was in 2016.

A.J. Preller has not been shy in telling Chase Headley that he may be traded prior to Opening Day. But if he stays with the organization, he provides versatility and an ability to get on base. Headley played 328 innings at first base for the Yankees in 2017, and has the experience to play the position if needed. Playing for a Yankees team that finished a win away from a World Series appearance, Headley hit .273/.352/.406 with 12 home runs and 61 RBI.

Allen Craig is a bit of a wild card. He signed a minor-league contract with an invitation to Spring Training in January. The 33-year-old has not played in Major League Baseball since 2015, but he does bring championship pedigree. In 2011, he helped the St. Louis Cardinals win a World Series title.  In 2013, he hit .315/.373/.457 en route to an appearance in the All Star Game.

On the farm

Josh Naylor came out of the gates strong for the Lake Elsinore Storm in 2017, hitting .297 with a 119 wRC+ in the first half. His performance earned him a spot in the California League All Star Game as well as a spot in the 2017 MLB Futures Game. In the second half, Naylor was called up to AA San Antonio; where hit .250 with two home runs in 175 at bats. With the arrival of Eric Hosmer, Naylor is seemingly blocked at first base for the foreseeable future. The 20-year-old has been taking some defensive reps in left field this spring, however.

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