Up until yesterday’s trade, the rumor mill was a-swirlin’ for a couple days after a report surfaced that the Royals had offered Eric Hosmer a seven-year deal for $147 million. I was skeptical that the report was correct given both the source and the lack of confirmation from any other reporter around the country. The Padres offer that was reported at seven years and $140 million was slightly debunked, with the Padres beat reporter saying that they had offered the years, but not that money. Then Sam Mellinger from The Kansas City Star had a similar sentiment, writing that the offer reported does not exist but then implying on Twitter that there is an offer out there. I buy that.
- The deal to send Scott Alexander to the Dodgers and Joakim Soria to the White Sox for Trevor Oaks and Erick Mejia was unexpected and interesting. Clint did a fantastic job writing up the deal yesterday, but I wanted to throw my two cents in. I like Oaks because I think cheap starters who can give innings are really important, especially for rebuilding teams. His upside isn’t especially great, but a quality number four starter is worth plenty. Just think if the Royals didn’t need to hit the free agent market for one in Jason Hammel. I like that he gets ground balls and I think he’ll be a nice fit with the Royals. Speaking of Hammel, if I had to guess, I’d say he’s dealt within the next few days. One year of Hammel can absolutely be traded. And that’ll clear a little more salary, which would make room for that Hosmer deal we’ve been talking about this week. I’ll get to that in a second. I’ve believed pretty strongly that the Royals needed to add rotation depth, and while this definitely does that, I don’t think they should be done. Though I will say that Oaks, Scott Barlow, Brad Keller and incumbents Eric Skoglund, Foster Griffin and others do give the Royals a lot of options at the very least.
- There was a pretty mixed reaction from Royals fans when thinking about the idea that the Royals had offered that kind of money to Hosmer, and I run the risk of being a fence sitter here, but I see both sides. On one hand, why spend that kind of money for those kind of years on a player who isn’t likely to put the team over the top in any of the next few seasons? On the other hand, signing a player who is coming off the best year of his career when he’s theoretically in the middle of his prime years is something every team wants to do. My belief is that it’s best to let him go elsewhere and take the draft compensation to add the pick and about $2 million to the draft pool. But in trying to see it from the Royals perspective, I have to say that I at least understand their side. In Hosmer, they have a face of the franchise and someone who they’ve deemed a great leader. With young players likely to be coming to the big leagues over the next few seasons, it helps to have that. It also gives them a veteran to slot in the middle of the order to take pressure off these young players as they arrive so they don’t have to be “the guy” right away.
- There is another longer-term factors. You may scoff now, but if he plays long enough, there will be a Hall of Fame case for him. He currently has 1,132 hits, 127 home runs and 206 doubles. If he can get to 3,000, 300 and 500, I think it’d be hard to keep him out, no matter what you think of counting stats. And if he plays through his age-38 season, that’s 11 more years. Basically if you see three more seasons like his 2017, he’s up to 1,700 hits, 300 doubles and 200 homers, giving him eight seasons to average 162 hits, 25 doubles and 13 homers. There are a lot of factors that will stop him from getting there. It’s just hard to last that long for anyone, especially a player with a long swing like Hosmer has. And it also counts on him continuing what he did in 2017 for multiple seasons in a row when he’s yet to put together even back-to-back above average seasons to this point. So yeah, I’m not saying it’s the likeliest path, but the numbers are there that if he can consistently put it together year to year, he’s on a path to at least being a big argument on a ballot in like 2034. There’s value in having another player in the franchise who at least could be a Hall of Famer. That was kind of rambling, but there’s an argument to keep him for sure.
- The Royals payroll is an interesting talking point because they keep mentioning that they have a budget of around $115 million or so for the 2018 season. They’re already up against that, as we all know, but other than having to be creative this season and in 2019, things actually do open up a bit moving forward as they have just about $46 million committed in 2020 and $30 million committed in 2021 before going down to $0 in commitments in 2022 as of right now. There are arbitration eligible players who will factor in and all that, but we can only go by what we know right now. The point is that if they can shed a little salary this season and maybe some for next season, they could fit in a big contract moving forward. I would guess the organizational belief is that the roster will feature enough 0-3 players that the payroll can be top heavy with guys like Danny Duffy, Salvador Perez and a big contract like Hosmer would command. That may be pie in the sky thinking, but that’s the way it’ll have to work if it’s going to work. So fast forward to 2020, if the Royals have $46 million for Duffy, Perez, Jorge Soler and Ian Kennedy and were to add, say, $23 million for Hosmer, they’d have $69 million for five players. Add in some combination of Khalil Lee, Michael Gigliotti, Donnie Dewees, Raul Mondesi, Nicky Lopez, Jake Junis Josh Staumont, Griffin, Chase Vallot and any other young guys in the bullpen, and they could be looking at about $8 million for 12 or so guys with eight spots left to fill. If they’re willing to run a $130 million payroll (and that might be light if there’s a new TV deal), they’d have $50 million or so for those eight players. Sure it would take some shrewd signings/trades, but that’s doable. Is it likely? I don’t think so, but that’s not what the question is here.