Friday evening’s news, reported by FanSided MLB Insider Robert Murray (Twitter link) among others, that Boston had DFA’d former KC Royals star Eric Hosmer, was the kind of juicy tidbit that immediately caught Kansas City fans’ attention and evoked thoughts of a possible reunion.
After all, Hosmer remains a symbol of the franchise, a hero of the team’s 2014 and 2015 World Series runs and a key reason the Royals won it all in 2015. He’s one of the most popular players in Kansas City baseball history.
But even the seven good years he gave KC, or the four Gold Gloves and the Silver Slugger he won as a Royal, don’t guarantee that his former club will make a run at the 12-season big league veteran. The Red Sox, who put Hosmer in DFA limbo to open space on their 40-man roster for Wyatt Mills after, interestingly enough, Kansas City traded him to them Friday, have seven days from the move to trade Hosmer or put him on irrevocable outright waivers.
Hosmer’s future should be known soon. Should Kansas City consider being part of it?
There are reasons the KC Royals may think about bringing Eric Hosmer back.
Hosmer enjoyed a solid Royal career—besides those Gold Gloves and that Silver Slugger, he slashed .284/.342/.439 with 127 home runs and 566 RBIs. He discovered, though, that the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere when, after signing a $144 million free agent deal with San Diego after the 2017 season, his line fell to .265/.325/.411 with 69 homers for the Padres before they shipped him to Boston at last season’s trade deadline.
Proof that they were eager to part ways with Hosmer lies in the fact the Padres agreed to pay all but the major league minimum portion of the $39 million he’s owed through 2025.
That means acquiring Hosmer will be cheap by MLB standards—$720,000 next season, $740,000 the following year, and $760,000 for 2025—for any team he joins via trade or waivers. And such an inexpensive acquisition might suit the Royals, whose commitment to operate on the cheap this winter is well-chronicled.
That’s the first reason KC general manager J.J. Picollo might give Hosmer’s agent a ring.
Eric Hosmer could replace disappointing Ryan O’Hearn with the KC Royals.
Enough said. Other than his good 2018 rookie season (.262/.353/.597 with 12 homers in 44 games) and some recently good pinch hitting, O’Hearn has done little for Kansas City. He’s a .219 career hitter who has no regular position to play.
And even Hosmer’s “worst” full San Diego season, his .269, 12-homer, 65 RBI 2021 effort, is better than anything O’Hearn has put together besides his debut campaign—O’Hearn did club 14 homers in 2021, but drove in only 38 runs and hit .195.
The KC Royals could replace underperforming Hunter Dozier with Eric Hosmer.
Dozier’s case vis-à-vis Hosmer requires a little more study than O’Hearn’s, but the result is the same.
Hosmer isn’t as “versatile” as Dozier, who moves between first base, third base, and the outfield corners, but versatility doesn’t count for much when he’s not particularly good defensively at any position.
And first base, where Dozier’s glove poses the least threat to Kansas City’s well-being, belongs now to Vinnie Pasquantino, or Nick Pratto if the latter soon proves he can handle big league pitching, which would shift Pasquantino to DH.
Yes, Hosmer could reclaim his old position, which would also call for Pasquantino to DH (probably a reasonable trade off considering Hosmer may be better defensively than Pasquantino) but would also force KC to make a career decision about Pratto, a hot prospect who flubbed his major league debut in 2022.
But back to Hosmer vs. Dozier specifically. Hosmer didn’t meet San Diego’s $144 million expectations, but Dozier has seriously underperformed the surprising $25 million, four-year contract KC suddenly gave him before the 2021 season began. And although Dozier’s hit two more home runs (71 to 69) than Hosmer since Hosmer left the Royals, Hosmer’s average is 23 points better (.264 to .241), he’s driven in 84 more runs (309 to 225), and he has four seasons of 100 OPS+ or better to Dozier’s one.
So, if Picollo can find a trade partner for Dozier, Hosmer can more than replace him.
So, should the KC Royals pursue a reunion with former star Eric Hosmer?
The main reason we essentially dismissed the notion of bringing Hosmer back two seasons ago—the heavy burden of his contract—no longer exists. What it would now cost Kansas City to acquire a fiery Gold Glover who has something left in his bat (certainly more than O’Hearn and Dozier seem to have in theirs) and could combine his championship approach with Salvador Perez’s on a young club that must learn how to win, is the bargain price of the major league minimum.
He might not play every day, especially if the Royals remain committed to developing Pratto, but Hosmer returning to Kansas City is something to which the club should give thought. Whether it happens or not is a different matter, but it’s a subject worth broaching with Hosmer.
Should Kansas City go after Eric Hosmer?