The Kansas City Royals have made it clear Eric Hosmer is their No. 1 target this offseason. The negative narrative surrounding him could help their pursuit.
Scott Boras has tried his hardest to control the offseason narrative surrounding Eric Hosmer, highlighted by his Playoffville soliloquy when the owners and general managers convened last month. In spite of that — or maybe spurred on by his brazen praise for Hosmer — there is still a sizable portion of the baseball community who think teams would be smart to stay clear of the Kansas City Royals first baseman this offseason.
The latest example came from CBS Sports writer Dayn Perry this weekend. In his piece, Perry had the following line that would likely start a fistfight with more than a few Kansas City Royals fans: “Hosmer’s a good player and a useful upgrade for a limited number of teams, but he’s not a star.” Now, he’s far from the first national writer to take this stance. There’s also been several team-specific writers — across FanSided and elsewhere — who have adopted what we’ll call the Hosmer-as-overrated narrative.
Initial reaction to reading these articles is generally a hope that Hosmer earns what he deserves this winter. It’s fair to say that’s not $200 million over seven years. But he should make a nice sum. A team somewhere out there will pay him a lot of money to play first base for them. However, the terms of his contract could vary greatly depending on whether front offices feel similarly to the writers.
The Hosmer-as-overrated narrative generally hinges on a few valid points surrounding the 28-year-old. One point of contention is his defense. Gold Gloves suggest superb play. Advanced metrics suggest moving him to designated hitter. As Perry even admits, the truth is likely somewhere in between. The second thing leading the narrative is Hosmer’s inability to put together consecutive great seasons. It leads many to believe his contract year is at worst an aberration and at best an odd-year expectation.
Benefit to Kansas City Royals
The negative narrative might not directly impact Hosmer’s bottom line, but it could lead to backlash from a new fanbase. That being said, the polarizing nature of Hosmer’s narrative and the fact that teams will lose a draft pick as well as money to sign him could scare some teams away. In turn, the Kansas City Royals could have an increased chance to retain a player they know is a star.
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The free agent market never ceases to surprise. A couple of years ago, fans had already given up hope in Alex Gordon re-signing. Just a few things happened elsewhere and suddenly Gordon was back in the fold. That situation shows the volatility of a process even the best forecasters have a hard time predicting.
Hosmer always seemed the most likely player for the Kansas City Royals to target. His age and lack of injury history made him a safer bet than Mike Moustakas or Lorenzo Cain. The way he carries himself off the field made it icing on the cake. Even still, the franchise knows its limitations. The payroll has increased to an almost unsustainable level, meaning the price for Hosmer would have to be just right to get a deal done.
Perhaps, the narrative that he’s an overrated player will be enough to set the Hosmer market up exactly the right way. Only time will tell. But either way, the narrative, as much as it may hurt Hosmer, has given Kansas City Royals fans renewed hope for retaining their star.