The KC Royals signed a one-year, $12.24 million deal with first baseman Eric Hosmer on Friday afternoon to avoid arbitration.
Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore continued his unblemished record of never taking a player to arbitration since he took over in Kansas City. Moore secured Eric Hosmer‘s last year of team control before free agency for $12.24 million. That price proved to be a cool $1 million in savings over MLB Trade Rumors salary projection of $13.3 million.
Hosmer set career highs with 25 home runs and 104 RBIs in 2016. But, he slashed a mediocre (for a first baseman) .266/.328/.433 for the season. He did, however, earn his first all-star nod due to a hot start that saw him hit .330/.376/.553 through May 31. Hosmer needs to figure out what went wrong in the second half to put up a strong performance in his contract year.
Moore has two more potential arbitration cases to resolve before spring training begins next month in Kelvin Herrera and Danny Duffy. MLB Trade Rumors projects those contracts to run $8.2 million for Duffy and $5.3 million for Herrera. Hopefully, Moore can shave some more money off those projected salaries in order to make offers for bargain free agents as spring training begins.
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So far, Moore has done a fine job cutting salary while fielding what should be a team that competes for a playoff berth. He traded off impending free agents Wade Davis and Jarrod Dyson for players with four years of team control in outfielder Jorge Soler and pitcher Nate Karns. Those deals netted close to $9 million in payroll savings. Add the $1 million from Hosmer’s expected arbitration value, and Moore has sliced $10 million from the expected 2017 payroll.
Those deals have also shored up two weaknesses: right handed power hitter, plus a potential starting pitcher. Moore has also brought in former top power prospect Peter O’Brien in return for minor league pitcher Sam Lewis. The 26-year-old O’Brien is more of a late-blooming lottery ticket rather than a bat the KC Royals can count on. However, O’Brien could possibly become part of the DH picture in 2017 and perhaps serve as a stopgap solution at first base if Eric Hosmer leaves next winter.
The biggest shortcoming so far is that Moore has done little to shore up his bullpen aside from signing a horde of veteran comeback candidates in Jonathan Sanchez, Bobby Parnell, Brandon League, Al Alburquerque, and Chris Withrow. I expect Moore attempts to add pieces to his bullpen after Greg Holland either returns to the Kansas City Royals or moves on.