Kansas City Royals: How letting Eric Hosmer leave would benefit team
It might be hard to see it now, but the Kansas City Royals would benefit from letting Eric Hosmer leave this offseason. Here’s why it’s the right move for the club.
The Kansas City Royals and their fans have had one main goal for this offseason: re-sign Eric Hosmer. It’s the kind of move that signals to a fanbase that David Glass is willing to spend money to keep the team relevant. But what if the quickest way back to the postseason was to let Hosmer leave?
That’s right. The Kansas City Royals would be better off — assuming the ultimate goal is to make the postseason — if the team lets their top free agent and his enormous price tag walk out the door. Sure, re-signing Hosmer would give the franchise a better chance to compete in the next couple of years. But the reality is that he alone won’t get them to the playoffs. Considering the other free agents set to leave, the Royals won’t be better in 2018 than they were in 2017.
It’s one reason why the team would benefit from attempting to rebuild, as opposed to remaining mediocre. If Hosmer signs for $150 million, which would be more than Alex Gordon and Ian Kennedy will earn from their current contracts combined, that leaves little wiggle room for the team to add pieces in the coming seasons.
Instead of using that money to sign Hosmer and try to fill deficiencies with subpar prospects or cheap stopgaps, the organization should save its money. Save that $150 million earmarked for one player — whose actual on-field value varies based on who you listen to — until it can truly help you. Invest some of it in rebuilding the farm system. Use it to replenish the bullpen, add a top-line reliever or bring in younger, better outfielders. There are so many better ways to spend that money.
The team has too many holes to expect Hosmer and a bunch of replacement-level players to get the Royals back in postseason contention. Obviously, signing Logan Morrison or Lucas Duda instead of Hosmer at first base would be seen as a step backward. Neither of those players would boost the team into the playoffs. If they decide to pursue a cheap free agent at the position in the short-term, that’s fine. In reality, though, the organization should be focused on finding the next Hosmer from within.
This is where the draft comes into play, specifically the 2018 one. According to Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, the franchise could be in line for five picks inside the top 50. Three of those picks hinge on Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain leaving and signing for more than $50 million. Those compensatory picks are the only reason Moore shouldn’t be crucified for refusing to sell at the trade deadline.
For the Kansas City Royals to make it back to the postseason, they will need another great crop of prospects to come through. It took Salvador Perez, Moustakas and Hosmer, among others, to come through the system to send the franchise to consecutive World Series appearances. The next group that could rival it will hopefully consist of the 2017 and 2018 draft classes.
Regardless of whether the team re-signs Hosmer, the Royals most likely won’t compete until roughly 2023. That number comes from the previous crop of talent. The organization drafted Moustakas in 2007 and Hosmer in 2008; it took until 2013 for the Royals to begin competing for a playoff spot. If 2023 indeed marks the time when the next great generation is ready, Hosmer would be nearing the end of his mega contract.
With the left-handed hitter likely to sign a six- or seven-year deal, 2023 would represent either the final or penultimate season for Hosmer. If he is still around, he’d probably be the highest paid player on the team, thanks to back-loading. He also would likely be on the bench with Nick Pratto at first base. His role would probably emulate the one Carlos Beltran had for the Astros in 2017.
Nailing down Hosmer’s signature this offseason would show the Kansas City Royals value his intangibles and leadership ability. However, those would arguably be his most important (read: only) contributions for the back-end of his deal. For what it’s worth, Beltran had a negative WAR and batted just three times in the World Series.
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The club would hope that Hosmer has the talent to help the team sell tickets in the short-term and be a key veteran when the next great Kansas City Royals era comes in the long-term. To them, that might make Hosmer seem like a good investment.
But the Royals would be wise to let Hosmer head elsewhere this winter. Hopefully, that doesn’t cost the franchise a sizable portion of its fanbase, because if they stick around, those fans could be celebrating another playoff appearance in the not-so-distant future. It might not be as soon as they would like. But it would be sooner than if the team invests a ton of money in Hosmer.
Next: Where free agents will sign during rebuild
What do you think? Would you be upset if the Royals didn’t re-sign Hosmer? Would you stop following the team? Let us know your thoughts.