The Royals are at a crossroads this off-season, given the choice of either trying to bring back their free agent stars to compete again in the near future, or tearing it all down and rebuilding in a process that will likely take several seasons. Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger has written that this decision will rest largely with whether or not the Royals feel they can re-sign Eric Hosmer, a free agent that will likely command in excess of $100 million. If the Royals cannot sign Hosmer, then most likely they will undergo some sort of rebuild.
However FanRag reporter Jon Heyman wrote over the weekend that the Royals are leaning against a rebuild at this point, and not only will try to bring back Hosmer, but Mike Moustakas may be in their sights as well.
The Royals, who now seem less inclined to do a rebuild, are looking closely at potential returns for star infielders Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas but appear to have all but given up hope of retaining star center fielder Lorenzo Cain.
Kansas City has been thought to be weighing a real rebuilding job considering their long list of star free agents and the expected prices in this year’s market, but at least for now seem more focused on doing what they can to keep some of their core together in a winter in which they have the potential to be decimated by free agency. It has long been known that Hosmer has topped their list of free agents they’d like to bring back, but it appears, too, that they are seriously weighing re-signing Mike Moustakas, as well, if possible.
Heyman reasons that the Glass family does not want to disappoint fans after a stretch of success.
It is likely true that the Royals are at least considering pursuing Hosmer and Moustakas this off-season. The club has $120 million in salary obligations for next year, but if they get creative, they could try to make it work. The Royals would not be doing their due diligence if they were not exploring all situations.
But I suppose I am pretty skeptical they are giving up on a rebuild to pursue these two players, well, because of the source. Jon Heyman is a national baseball writer, who is fantastic in getting scoops. How do reporters get scoops? By being well-connected. And there is one agent Jon Heyman is known to be very well-connected to - Scott Boras. Guess who represents both Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas? Scott Boras.
Rich Lederer at Baseball Analysts explains the Heyman phenomenon here, when talking about some of the free agents from back in 2009.
You see, Boras throws Heyman a bone on a Tek or Tex signing but also uses him to spread rumors about the level of interest and terms in ongoing free agent negotiations to create a false sense of demand. Teams that fall for this trick wind up competing against themselves, which is exactly what Boras desires.
While Boras is no fool, Heyman is a tool for the Scott Boras Corporation. Boras knows how to game the system to get the best deals for his clients and will gladly use Heyman as long as the latter plays along or until the market realizes what is going on. As it stands now, it's almost as if Heyman, who is no stranger to the Boras suites during the winter meetings, is on the SBC payroll.
Lederer cites some anecdotal evidence for Heyman’s bias, but Michael Eder at Yankees Analysts took it a step further and provided hard data.
The chart above shows that Jon Heyman wrote about Scott Boras clients at a rate well above double Buster Olney’s or Ken Rosenthal’s. When doing my research, it was the consistency of Boras pieces that most astounded me. While Rosenthal and Olney’s articles would often come with Fielder and Madson updates or signings, Heyman wrote regularly about other agents like Carlos Pena, Edwin Jackson, and Carlos Beltran. Even more amazing was the rate at which he linked Boras clients to the Yankees. Even though Rosenthal and Heyman both wrote the same number of articles, Rosenthal only linked them once, with Heyman linking them nine times. That means that 32% of the time that Heyman wrote about Boras clients, the Yankees were involved. As many clients as Boras has, when two of every five articles are about Boras clients, and more than one of every eight are linking Boras clients to the Yankees, something suspicious is happening.
What seems to be happening here is Heyman is drumming up some interest in Hosmer and Moustakas by hyping up the market for them. You probably won’t be surprised to know that Heyman has written about Hosmer’s great market quite a bit, saying Hosmer could ask for $200 million, the Yankees “love” Hosmer, and the Red Sox will target him. You won’t be surprised to see Heyman ranked Hosmer as the top free agent this winter, whereas other rankings him lower like MLB Trade Rumors (#3), Jim Duquette of MLB.com (#5), CBS Sports (#5), Nick Stellini at The Sporting News (#6), Keith Law (#7), and Neil Greenberg at the Washington Post (#10).
I’m not saying this is “fake news” or disinformation from Vladimir Putin. Some of Heyman’s reports may actually be true. Just recognize there may be an agenda behind his pieces. The local reporters who have connections to this front office - Rustin Dodd, Sam Mellinger, Jeffrey Flanagan - have a far better idea of what Royals management think.