A pair of ex-San Diego Padres appeared in the news on Monday in a move that could potentially alter the team’s pursuit of free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Buchter and Hahn were both pitchers with the Padres organization at one time. The team traded Buchter to the Royals last July along with Trevor Cahill and Brandon Maurer. Hahn was traded to Oakland before the start of the 2015 season.
The move clears up nearly $5 million from the Royals’ payroll. This move potentially makes room for the Royals to retain Hosmer in a long-term deal, although that is nothing more than speculation at this point.
Hosmer became a fan favorite among Kansas City fans during his tenure with the Royals. His mad dash from third base to home plate in the 2015 World Series will be forever remembered in the City of Fountains.
The Royals have made it known that they want to retain Hosmer. It’s also no secret that the Padres wish to sign the left-handed first baseman. Where Hosmer will sign is one of the biggest mysteries in this slow offseason, where the most relevant news so far is Lorenzo Cain signing a 5-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers.
When the free agency period began, agent Scott Boras, who represents Hosmer, along with other high-profile free agents, said his client desired an 8-year deal worth $200 million. No one has offered either of those numbers to Hosmer.
Royals have traded LHP Ryan Buchter and DH/1B Brandon Moss to Oakland for right-hander Jesse Hahn and Minor League right-hander Heath Fillmyer. This could clear some payroll space for a certain free-agent first baseman you know.
— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) January 30, 2018
In early January, two reports came out about offers made to the first baseman. One report said that San Diego offered a 7-year deal worth $140 million. Soon after, another report surfaced that the Royals countered with a 7-year, $147 million offer, worth $1 million more per year. Both reports were proven to be false.
San Diego owner Ron Fowler said recently in an interview with 1090 AM that the Padres have a 7-year offer on the table, but did not say how much it was worth. He did, however, say that the money offer is less than $140 million.
Fowler included a statement about Boras by saying they like their offer, but he doesn’t know if Mr. Boras likes it. One theory in baseball circles is that Boras is the reason as to why this offseason has been so quiet. His clients are not receiving the offers they desire.
The Royals have not revealed any information about an offer made to Hosmer. Instead, they dropped a subtle hint at retaining Hosmer by clearing payroll. The franchise could look to clearing even more payroll. Starting pitcher Danny Duffy is owed $15 million over the next four seasons. If the Royals are going to give Hosmer $20 million-plus over several years during a rebuild, they likely will have to move Duffy’s contract.
“He’s in play. The #Royals are listening on him. If there’s a tear down, he’s the guy that would likely bring the most back in return.” – Jeff Passan on the Danny Duffy trade rumors.
— 610 Sports Radio- KC (@610SportsKC) December 13, 2017
Kansas City already retained one player from their “core four” that won the 2015 World Series. They signed shortstop Alcides Escobar to a 1-year, $2.5 million contract. That signing sent a signal that shortstop Raul Mondesi either is not ready to take over at shortstop, or he may not be the player the Royals were expecting.
The Kansas City Star reported recently that Mondesi hasn’t played winter ball in his native Dominican Republic the past two seasons due to back issues. He also served a 50-game suspension after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2016.
The Royals now have Escobar at short and Whit Merrifield at second base. They acquired Ryan Goins over the winter for infield depth. Mondesi appears to be the odd man out, and is likely headed to the minors for another season.
While Hosmer is a fan favorite, the Royals fan base appears to be split on retaining him due to his price tag, much like the Padres fan base. Padres fans on social media have shown mixed reviews about signing the first baseman. Some say it moves the team closer to contention, while others say that the move is too expensive, makes no sense, and the team should save their money for next offseason, when a much deeper free agent class becomes available.
Royals fans on social media have shown similar mixed reviews. Some are all for Hosmer staying with the Royals. With him being the darling of the city, that’s no surprise. However, others don’t think signing him to a large contract is worth it, and that the Royals should wish him well and start a new process towards another shot at a World Series.
With spring training two weeks away, free agents should start signing contracts soon. The key word here is “should.” San Diego has been on “Hosmer Watch” since December. Some weird things have happened, like Hosmer’s picture randomly appearing on the team’s Instagram account. A similar oddity occurred when the Padres’ twitter account mentioned Hosmer and tweeted “stay tuned….” Hours later, the organization released a statement which said their social media accounts were hacked.
The Royals cleared some salary for their pursuit of Eric Hosmer. The Padres already believed Kansas City might have made the larger offer. https://t.co/RTPXk20sMg
— Dennis Lin (@sdutdennislin) January 30, 2018
Dennis Lin, of the San Diego Union-Tribune, reported on Jan. 29 that the Padres believe Kansas City made a larger offer, according to a source. It is not known how much more their offer is than the one from the Padres. Fowler said in his radio interview that the organization won’t make any changes to their offer. Lin reported that this could change if “negotiations come down to a relatively small sum.” He added that a significant overhaul seems unlikely.
Perhaps clearing payroll puts the Royals over the hump in terms of out-bidding the Padres. That is one likely scenario. In another scenario, moving payroll could be a desperation move by Kansas City to try to retain Hosmer. Another scenario is that this move is completely unrelated, being that they cleared only $5 million, as opposed to moving a larger chunk of money.
Spring training is two weeks away. We should have an answer soon enough.