For two years, we didn’t have to worry about what the offseason was like when nothing was going to happen. Your favorite team not making the playoffs is no fun in October. Sure, the postseason is actually fun to watch and you don’t go gray because you aren’t as into the outcome, but there just isn’t much going on outside of the playoffs, which is how MLB wants it. So we’ll just have to forge on and have the front office/coaching staff news fuel us for the next few weeks before we get to qualifying offers and free agency and all that good stuff.
- All the rumors indicate the Royals are going to make a push to re-sign Eric Hosmer out of their group of pending free agents, which is noteworthy even if it’s just talk because he’s going to be, by far, the most expensive one of the bunch. And I do get it. He hit .318/.385/.498 with a .302 TAv. He is and was the face of the Royals run through the postseason for those two years where they were a World Series team. And he has shown that the moment is never too big for him. I know it was ultimately meaningless, but the guys who hit a home run in the way he did on Sunday are guys who aren’t intimidated by the moment. He has plenty of better examples of not being intimidated by the moment, but that’s just the latest. And in a way, I have a hard time seeing how the Royals can’t bring Hosmer back. It’s likely going to cost between $125 million and $175 million to be the highest bidder for Hosmer. That doesn’t mean that’s how high the Royals will have to go because he might take a slight discount to stay with the team he knows and loves, but they’ll probably have to at least double the largest contract they’ve ever given out. My point here, before I get even more long-winded than normal, is that I get it and I get why they might do that. I even see how they could do it. Money starts coming off the books after 2018 and they’re getting a big check for the MLB Advanced Media deal and they’re probably signing a new TV deal soon enough. But unless budget is no longer going to be a concern for the Royals, I just can’t see putting that much of your payroll on the shoulders of one player, no matter how great he could be. It’s a harsh reality of baseball today, but I’m just not sure I see the ultimate wisdom in re-signing Hosmer for the money it’s likely to take.
- It’s sort of cheating now, but I figure I should give my postseason picks. In the preseason, I had Astros against the Nationals in the World Series, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice because that’s still possible. I had the Nationals winning it all, which I think I do like every other year only to see them get ousted in the division series for some stupid reason. This year’s stupid reason might be Max Scherzer’s hamstring or maybe Bryce Harper’s return from injury. The smart play for me is to now predict someone else wins to give me better odds of picking the correct winner at some point. I actually am going to pick the Astros out of the American League still, even though the popular pick is the red hot Indians. I’m saying they end up playing the Dodgers. My gut just tells me that the Dodgers are the best team out there in spite of what we saw from them for the last month-plus of the season. They have star bats, the best pitcher in the world and a lockdown closer. Of course, the playoffs are largely a crapshoot, so we’ll probably have Yankees/Diamondbacks or something, but give me Dodgers vs. Astros, I guess.
- I don’t want to dwell on why the Royals didn’t make the playoffs. Normally, it’d be a good thought exercise because they’d need to overcome whatever mistakes they made in 2017 to get over the hump in 2018, but this is a different situation because next year’s team won’t be the same team or the same group trying to do it. That said, I do want to make one point that I haven’t seen much of. We’ve seen so much of April and August and Soria and Herrera and all the reasons why they didn’t make it to the dance. And those are all correct, along with about 27 other things. That’s sort of what happens when you miss the playoffs by a handful of games as they did in 2017. But one thing that I just can’t get out of my head is that they went 9-10 against a White Sox team that finished 28 games under .500. I know they were much improved late in the season, but if you think you are a playoff team, you make it very difficult on yourself when you have a losing record against a division opponent that is open and honest about their rebuild and traded most of their best players either before or during the season. Just add that to the list, I guess.
- I think I’ve talked about this before, but since the pending free agents are about to just be free agents, it’s worth discussing again. The Royals corner spots (and DH) will be really interesting to see how they work it. They have Cheslor Cuthbert, Brandon Moss, Hunter Dozier, Alex Gordon, Jorge Bonifacio and Jorge Soler to fill five spots on the field at a time. What’s nice is there’s a pretty fair amount of versatility in the group. Obviously they can all work as the designated hitter, but Cuthbert can handle both corner spots in the infield while Moss can handle first and both corner outfield spots. Dozier can actually play all four spots and the Jorges could work in either corner outfield spot, as could Alex Gordon (and he can probably still handle first). What that means is there are 800 games at the five spots (10 games without DH in NL parks) to split among the six. With an even split, that’s about 133 games apiece, so I think it can really work for them. I’m just interested to see just how they handle it or if they make a move with one or more of these players to open up more playing time for the others.