The Padres have found their Adrian Gonzalez replacement.
Brad Hawpe's deal to become the new first baseman of the Padres is done, reports Bernie Wilson of the Associated Press. The deal is worth $3 million guaranteed. Hawpe, who turns 32 during the upcoming season, will earn $2 million in 2011 with a $6 million mutual option for 2012 that can be bought out for $1 million.
Hawpe will replace Gonzalez and his career .284/.368/.507 at first base. The outfielder has just 72 innings of experience at the position in the big leagues, but has said that he is looking forward to returning to his natural position at first base, where he played throughout high school, college and high-A-ball.
Hawpe also said that he is looking forward to playing at Petco Park. His numbers seem to back that up, as Hawpe has a .281 (43-for-153) career average in San Diego, with a .371 on-base percentage and five home runs in 42 career games.
At .279/.373/.490, Hawpe's a career hitter who's consistently shown good pop, hitting no less than 22 home runs in from 2006 to 2009. The Padres are expected to bring in a platoon partner for the lefty, who is a .245/.322/.438 career hitter against southpaws.
According to Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribune, Padres general manager Jed Hoyer was impressed with Hawpe's 2009 season, when he hit .285 overall with 14 of his 23 homers coming away from Coors Field in Denver.
Last season was mostly a loss for the outfielder, who suffered a myriad of injuries, including a quad strain and a rib issue that hurt his production and led to his eventual release from the Rockies in August. The Rays and Padres showed interest in Hawpe, who ultimately signed with Tampa Bay on Aug. 27.
Hawpe's down season continued with the Rays (.179/.304/.333 in 46 plate appearances). His biggest contribution may have been the supplemental first-round pick the Rays receive, due to his Type B free- agent status. San Diego will not have to surrender a pick for the signing.
For those of you who may remember, this is not the first time in Hawpe’s career that he's replaced the face of a franchise, as he took over for former MVP Larry Walker in right field when first breaking into the big leagues in 2004 with the Rockies.