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Royals Rumblings - News for November 28, 2017

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Could Hosmer change his swing?

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Kansas City Royals Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Rumblings - News for November 28, 2017

Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic writes that Eric Hosmer could change his swing with a new team.

In an article for Fangraphs, Sawchik pointed out that Hosmer’s average launch angle since 2015 ranks 379th out of 399 hitters who have put at least 300 balls in play. Telling numbers, to be sure. Still, who’s to say Hosmer cannot change?

The first baseman’s tendencies likely stemmed, in part, from playing his home games at Kauffman Stadium, which, according to ESPN.com’s park factor, had the fourth lowest rate of homers last season, behind AT&T Park, Petco Park and Citi Field.

It’s reasonable for any owner to ask, “Why should I award Hosmer a monster contract when I’m not sure if he’ll make the necessary swing adjustments?” But it also would be a mistake to simply assume Hosmer cannot alter his approach the way numerous other hitters have in recent seasons.

Mike Petriello at MLB.com looks at the best fits for Hosmer and concludes KC is a pretty good place for him to stay.

If there's 28 imperfect fits, and only one new clearly good free agent fit, then perhaps the strongest fit of all is… right back where Hosmer started. Kansas City has long known that with Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and Mike Moustakas all hitting free agency this year (along with since-departed relievers Wade Davis and Greg Holland), it would lose the core of its 2015 World Series championship team. But the club also indicated it would like to retain at least one, and Hosmer might just be the best fit, for all the reasons laid out here and more. It's unlikely, after all, that Brandon Moss is the everyday first baseman in 2018.

David Lesky at Baseball Prospectus Kansas City thinks the Royals could be moving relievers soon.

I believe the Royals will discuss deals for their two highest paid relievers, Kelvin Herrera and Joakim Soria, early, which makes a lot of sense. As free agency is in the early stages of this season, these relievers on the open market are still in the high demand phase of their search. The Royals would be wise to offer up Soria and Herrera as a much cheaper, much shorter investment alternative. Both pitchers are signed for just one more season. Herrera is estimated to earn $8.3 million in arbitration while Soria will be paid $9 million (and has a $1 million buyout on his 2019 mutual option). The market for Bryan Shaw has been hot and heavy. I expect he’ll sign this week and that’s when the Royals should pounce.

Dan Szymborski at ESPN thinks Jason Vargas is one of many free agents that should try to find a deal quickly.

A lot of times, pitchers can claim luck on batting average on balls in play as a culprit of sudden decline, but not in Vargas's case, with his BABIP blowing up to an elevated-but-not-unusual .309 after the All-Star Game. Vargas's walk rate nearly doubled in the second half and for pitchers, large walk rate (or strikeout rate) changes tend to be predictive numbers. Vargas showing he was healthy again was a big deal, but showing that his early-season performance wasn't a fluke will be a major challenge, and Vargas may best be served with signing a quick one-year deal with a team with a top pitching coach, such as the Pirates (Ray Searage), Mets (Dave Eiland), or the White Sox (Don Cooper) -- all teams that ought to be looking for bargain starting pitchers, for differing reasons. For Vargas, finding the perfect situation and hitting free agency after 2018 may be more lucrative than trying to get max dollars right now; Vargas may have won 18 games, but it's 2017, not 1997, and pitcher wins have never been held in lower esteem by decision-makers.

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