Royals Rumors abound about Eric Hosmer. What would you expect from a Scott Boras client though? Some of that publicity is based, in my opinion, on a false narrative.
Going into the off-season the Kansas City Royals had no idea what it would actually cost to bring Eric Hosmer back. What the front office made known, though, to all of us reading about any and all Royals Rumors, was that Hosmer was going to be the number one target.
After winning his fourth Gold Glove and his first Silver Slugger – on top of a World Baseball Classic Championship, 2015 All-Star MVP, and winning the World Series in 2015 – it was common knowledge that he would be making over $100 million once he hit free agency. Being a Boras client does not hurt his odds either.
Dayton Moore was asked about how aggressive the Royals would be this off-season. His answer was similar to when Alex Gordon was a free agent. The Royals were simply going to let the market move as they watched Hosmer. If he somehow fell into the price range they were comfortable with they would try to sign him. No one knew what that range was, though.
Winter Meetings Debacle
Once the Winter Meetings started, the Royals rumors started flying. One rumor caught a lot of people by surprise. Royals beat writer, Jeffrey Flanagan started the meetings off by tweeting out…
Later it came out that the Royals were seriously listening to offers for bigger named players. This included Danny Duffy, Salvador Perez, Kelvin Herrera, and Whit Merrifield. This is normal, but how serious the Royals are listening is what is surprising. This took fans by surprise, mainly because we did not fully realize what Moore meant by “rebuild”.
Later in the week, Fox Sports contributor, Ken Rosenthal tweeted an update on the Royals/Duffy trade/re-signing Hosmer debacle…
This puts the Royals faithful in an interesting situation. Do they want Hosmer back and accept a trade of Duffy to re-sign Hosmer? Or would they rather have Duffy and let Hosmer sign somewhere else – most likely San Diego?
The Hard Truth
As much as it would hurt, Hosmer should be on the team over Duffy. The simple reason being that Hosmer can play 162 games a year, while Duffy plays 32 games. More bang for your buck. Another reason would be leadership. Throughout the last few years, anytime something needed to be addressed or celebrated Hosmer was the one person who spoke. The leadership and entangles he brings to a team can change an entire team. (Hints why San Diego wants Hosmer so badly.)
The False Narrative of Eric Hosmer
Which leads us to the false narrative. When discussing a Hosmer contract, no one really knew what the range was going to be. Boras wanted a $200M contract, but it was known that a $200M contract was not going to happen. ESPN baseball writer, Buster Olney seemingly had a conversation with Boras about Hosmer’s current price range. Olney tweeted…
What this means, in layman’s terms, is Hosmer might have fallen into the Royals price range. Also, the Royals may not have to move a contract like Duffy’s.
However, now that we have this hypothetical number, a narrative has appeared. The narrative of “If the Royals pay him that money then they won’t have enough money to build around him. This would impact the rebuilding time negatively. They should let Hosmer sign elsewhere.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Without knowing the what the arbitration numbers are, Spotrac has the Royals sitting at a total payroll of $104,300,000. Without Hosmer, the Royals have achieved their goal of being below $110M. Therefore, the Royals would have to find relief somewhere for 2018 if they want to achieve that goal. But do they have to?
Hypothetically, if they sign Hosmer to a $120M deal over six years, that is an average of $20M per year. That would put the Royals at $124M, just over the original top-end of their salary of $120M. This would mean that Royals owner David Glass would have to pay more than he wants. He may not like it, but the one year sacrifice could payoff significantly.
In 2019, the Royals currently – before arbitration is included – sit at $101,950,000. With Hosmer’s $20M added, this in puts the Royals at about $121M. Again, higher than Glass wants to pay and does limit how active the Royals can be during the off-season. However, The Royals have the ability to cut $35M off the payroll. They would have to decline the options for Brandon Moss, Jason Hammel, Joakim Soria, and Wily Peralta to achieve that return. This would put the Royals payroll at about $67M – or $87M with Hosmer.
It gets better. In 2020 the Royals have the ability to cut Gordon. This would lower the Royals known payroll of $73M to $50M. I believe with that kind of payroll, Moore can easily build another dormant team.
Keep in mind as well, the Royals are rounding the corner to negotiating a new TV contract. This means that more money will be coming Kansas City’s way. This will open the teams payroll up significantly.
How the Future Team Looks
If you are wanting the Royals to move on from Hosmer because you want a rebuild to re-bolster the farm system, I can understand that. If you want Hosmer to be re-signed because of what he brings to the team, I can understand that too. The notion that the Royals can not afford Hosmer long-term, or he cripples the team, is simply not true. If the Royals wanted, they could stretch in 2018 and have significant relief from 2019 on.
What do you think? Can the Royals afford Hosmer without crippling the team? Should they trade Duffy to make room for Hosmer? Should the Royals sell all and completely rebuild? Let us know your thoughts.