The future of Eric Hosmer with the Royals has been a focus of both local and national media, with writers at sites like ESPN dropping comments or ideas every now and then. So, with all the building attention Hosmer is getting, it only makes sense that we think about the effect of all these monster deals for first basemen on Hosmer signing in Kansas City. With Joey Votto joining the ranks, there are quite a few guys with varied history to consider.
Even with differences between them, there’s one thing in common: money.
These are big deals. I’m not sure I emphasized that enough. These are BIG deals. Ridiculously huge. Ungodly contracts. I can think of six first basemen since the offseason after the 2008 season that have signed some substantially monstrous contracts: Votto, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira, and Ryan Howard. I may have missed someone, but I think these are the big six, if you don’t include Joe Mauer as a first basemen (which I don’t).
For those keeping track at home, these guys got about $23.1 million per year on average. Howard, Teixeira, and Gonzalez signed for under $200 million, but they also signed for fewer years than the other three. Coincidentally, the other three are also more recent than those three and will earn more per year than those three. Potentially less coincidentally, four of the six teams that signed these guys were the top four teams in overall salary in 2011. The other two ranked at 10th and 19th, but we can be sure those ranks will climb when these deals kick in.
Like I said, those are big, big deals. But there’s a catch. The average age of these guys was 28 1/3 years, significantly older than Hosmer’s current age of 22. That age span makes a difference. Three of the guys above have won at least one MVP award and all of them have finished in the top four at least once in their careers. They’ve had time to make their mark and make a name for themselves.
Hosmer, while an incredible athlete and budding star, isn’t quite there yet.
Still, Hosmer is a client of Scott Boras, who we all know and fear. Boras was the agent for two of the contracts above, with others engineered by guys like Casey Close and Dan Lozano. Does that mean Hosmer will command that contract right away? No, not at all. But it does mean that we can expect some holding-out until Hosmer is more on the plane of those guys above. With prices skyrocketing beyond reason, Boras will likely put the pressure on Hosmer to stand pat until he can get a monster deal in the future. With several analysts predicting a big season from him, it could happen sooner than later.
If we have to wait a few years before getting a deal done with Hosmer, is it still worth it? Would it just cripple the team to sign him to a deal like that?
By that time, Hosmer will be 25 or 26 and likely established as one of the best talents in the league, if projections hold. He’ll probably be in contention for an MVP, if not already owning the trophy, and will be raking in cash in arbitration. When do we cut ties if no deal is emerging?
Being a proponent of the whole organizational rebuild through the draft, I want to keep Hosmer around forever. I think everyone does. However, we’ll eventually get to the point that Milwaukee reached with Prince. That’s the “he’s not signing, so we’re going all in” point, which resulted in the Greinke trade, among others. If we get to that point and the team is competitive, do you give Hosmer the big bucks to stick around or let him walk away to a team like, say, the Yankees, his favorite team since he was a kid? Teixeira’s deal ends after the 2016 season, and we should all expect them to be watching Hosmer like hawks for that moment. Seems like a good time to cash in to me, should Hosmer not give the Royals any attention in talks or demand ridiculous rates.
The Reds just signed Votto to keep their biggest star in town and in a Cincinnati jersey for 10 years beyond his current deal. He’ll be there until 2023. I’m all for keeping homegrown stars, but I’m not all for giving a quarter of a team’s salary to one guy. In my mind, if Hosmer and Boras keep out of reach of the Royals in anticipation of Hosmer’s free agency, we trade him for a big return. I just can’t see any other way around that. I’d much prefer that to giving the guy $20+ million per year for 10 years.
Of course, this all only takes place if Hosmer doesn’t sign. It’s very possible that the Royals get something done in the meantime and that Hosmer goes the way of Jered Weaver, signing a smaller deal than Boras suggests just to stay in town. It’s possible and I obviously encourage him to stick around. I think we all do.
It just struck me yesterday that we could be seeing our future in the Prince and Votto deals this offseason. They’re the two alternatives: lose your star because he wants megabucks or sign him for the deal he wants to ensure the biggest name on the team never leaves. It’s not an easy decision, but it’s one the Royals may face with Hosmer.
Here’s hoping Hosmer puts the pressure on, but is open to a deal.
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