The Boston Red Sox have re-signed first baseman Mitch Moreland to a two-year contract, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The Red Sox had been considered to be strong favorites to land Eric Hosmer, but this almost certainly takes them out of that running, and they could instead focus their efforts on free agent slugger J.D. Martinez.
So where does that leave Hosmer? The only suitor that has shown a great deal of public interest is the Padres, who Hosmer visited with in San Diego two weeks ago. The Yankees have Greg Bird, who struggled his rookie season, but they can probably better afford to be patient with now that they have acquired slugger Giancarlo Stanton. The Cardinals have been talked about as a dark horse if they re-arrange their infield and move Matt Carpenter elsewhere. Also lingering out there are free agent first basemen Logan Morrison and Yonder Alonso who can give similar offensive production at a fraction of the price.
Two teams that have been quiet thus far but that I could see jumping in if the price gets right is the Rockies and Indians. The Rockies may want to bring back free agent Mark Reynolds, or turn to rookie Ryan McMahon, but they could see Hosmer as the final piece for a team in contention. The Indians lost Carlos Santana to Philadelphia, but also have no obvious replacement, although Edwin Encarnacion could see some time at first base.
But that also leaves the Royals. The Royals were reportedly discouraged that the market seems to have passed them by, but that report came from Jon Heyman, who is known a bit for his puffery for Scott Boras clients. With Boston out, the number of suitors is dwindling, and the market could be collapsing. Hosmer may not make sense for a rebuild, but the Royals may see him as a bridge from the championship era to the next generation of Royals players, and his contract should be long enough that the Royals could bounce back while he is still a productive player.
While this development is a good sign that Hosmer could return to Kansas City at a cheaper price than previously thought, it still looks like an uphill battle. The Royals are looking to cut payroll, although they may make an exception for a guy like Hosmer. Scott Boras is very good at his job, and it only takes one team to swoop in and outbid the Royals. With Carlos Santana setting the market at $20 million per year, Hosmer will certainly be looking for more.
Still, it does not look like we should expect a ridiculous bidding war for Hosmer. The Royals should be able to make a reasonably competitive offer. Whether Hosmer decides to jump on it and come back or wait it out remains to be seen. But every day this plays out only works in Kansas City’s favor.