Come Together?

Yonder Alonso signed with the Cleveland Indians as their answer to replacing Carlos Santana, who signed with the Phillies. If your interest is entirely Royal-centric, what this means to you is that landing spots for free agent Eric Hosmer continue to dwindle. While entirely accurate, one can almost feel like the Royals are almost going to be obligated to sign Hosmer. I mean, the guy has to play baseball somewhere for someone for some amount of pocket change.

As has been discussed here, there and everywhere, the wisdom of committing $20 million per year to Eric Hosmer for some sizable number of seasons is questionable.  There is the allure (especially for us old guys) of players being Royals for life or at least close to it. Heck, there is allure – when looking at the potential lineup for next season – to having a player with a .385 on-base percentage come back and play for Kansas City. Let’s face it, Eric Hosmer is good, but is is 6/$120 million good?  And even if he is THAT good, is that good for the Kansas City Royals?

Craig deftly pointed out the business side of life yesterday. If the budget for payroll really is $120 million, the post-arbitration situation will leave Dayton Moore hard pressed to stay under that number even if he fills out a number of roster spots with major league minimum players. Craig’s calculations obviously do not include an Eric Hosmer contract and therein lies the rub. The list of things that would have to happen for the current Royals’ roster with Eric Hosmer to be a playoff team is too long to note or be logical enough to even consider.

So, the baseball gods simply make the Royals sign Hosmer and let’s play a game and say he really wants to come back and cuts the boys a break:  say $18 million per year for five or six years.  Boom, payroll, assuming the Royals arbitrate with Kelvin Herrera, is now banging on $130 million.  I think maybe at last, we have established that David Glass is not cheap….as long as he thinks the team can win, but this group might not be a winner.  Maybe it sounds silly, maybe it does not, but if you are going to spend $130 million to win 82 games it almost seems to make more sense to spend $150 million to win 90.

Contrary to what some may think, I get wins above replacement and the dollar value thereof. As constructed with Hosmer back, the Royals probably still need a number of things to go right to be just a winning team, much less a contender.  Even if they go big and spend $150 million in 2018, there remains a list of ‘have to go right’ items to be taste 90 wins. That list is considerably shorter at that point, far shorter than the one associated with signing Hosmer and calling it a winter.

If Dayton Moore and the Royals really are in the hunt for Hosmer..iff he really is going to basically fall back into the organization’s lap, then doesn’t that really almost force Glass and Moore to dive back into the fray for even more?

With Hosmer back, then the Royals might as well go get Mike Moustakas as well (who has generated virtually no buzz this off-season). Sure, he comes with warts and risk, and maybe he spends more time at designated hitter than third over the life of his contract, but the options are currently Cuthbert, Moss and Dozier. Now you have Hosmer and Moustakas and the idea of ‘hoping’ someone in house can manage centerfield seems inappropriate. There remain suitors out there for Lorenzo Cain, so he may not be an option even in my fantasy world of a $150 million payroll, but Moore would have to think about upgrading there as well.

I hear you out there, with all that, this Royals team still has too many ifs and buts.

The starting rotation is not confidence inspiring, but the brave new world Moore has embarked on by signing Hosmer includes keeping Danny Duffy and Jason Hammel and, gulp, Ian Kennedy (as if there was someone out there who wanted to trade for him!). To be honest, there is not a great option to invigorate this group unless we get completely – and I may be there already! – nuts. Assuming some semblance of sanity remains and since the Royals are getting the band back together, the next best thing is to return to the super bullpen.

In doing so, it would have been nice to retain Mike Minor, but that ship has left the barn. Wade Davis is out there longing to be wanted by someone (so is Greg Holland, but don’t be greedy – it’s the holiday season). If the Royals change their mindset from rebuilding to reloading, maybe you bring back the World Series closer, shuffle Kelvin Herrera back into his comfort zone, ride the Soria roller coaster and return Scott Alexander and Peter Moylan to fill in the cracks and, in the latter case, fend off any rogue kangaroos.

Without question, we are well down the rabbit hole at this point and, for the record, I do not expect the 2018 Kansas City Royals to boast a payroll in the $150 million range. What this exercise in fantasy revealed, however, is that signing just Eric Hosmer simply does not make much sense. It would feel good and it would look good, but it doesn’t put the Royals (barring multiple lightning strikes) in playoff contention in 2018…or 2019. Are you prepared to bank on a 30-year old Eric Hosmer leading a yet to be determined group of developed draftees back to relevance in 2020-2021?  That is a lot of dollars and time between now and the end of the rainbow.

For this winter, if David Glass is going to allow Dayton Moore to spend some money, then he might as well let him spend a LOT of money. I am fully prepare to admit that in itself is a dicey prospect and I am certainly ready to agree that none of the above should really take place. I am, however, adamant that if you start down this road by bringing Eric Hosmer back, you cannot then put the car in neutral.

All in or all out. There is no in between.

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