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Jim Bowden ranks Royals among the top free agents in next winter’s class

Hosmer is ranked the best position player

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The look to next winter has already begun, at least for ESPN’s Jim Bowden, who decided to rank the likely free agents for next year’s class in his ESPN Insider article. To no surprise, the list is littered with Royals free agents, with Eric Hosmer coming in at #3, behind only Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish and Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta. Bowden writes:

Hosmer has already been to two World Series, won three Gold Gloves, and played in an All-Star Game. He is just 27 years old and is entering his prime years. Hosmer is coming off one of his best seasons for power, belting a career-high 25 home runs. There are big-market teams that have a long-term need at first base -- the Red Sox, Phillies, Nationals, Rangers and Mets. Hosmer is such a great clubhouse presence and complete player that he’s starting to separate himself as next offseason’s best free-agent position player.

Hosmer’s agent, Scott Boras has already floated the idea of a ten-year, $200 million deal, and the Royals are at least negotiating with him. However Hosmer has been very inconsistent with the bat, and he rates poorly in advanced defensive analytics, making some skeptical he is the elite superstar first baseman Scott Boras is suggesting.

Former Royals closer Wade Davis comes in at #7, behind catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and outfielders J.D. Martinez and Carlos Gonzalez. Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain is at #8, with Bowden writing that injuries and inconsistency will hurt Cain, but that he could “follow in the footsteps” of free agents like Michael Bourn, Melvin Upton, and Dexter Fowler.

Mike Moustakas is ranked #9, with Bowden writing that he will have to prove his 2015 season is not a fluke. Shortstop Alcides Escobar comes in at #19, with Bowden citing his “special” defense. He suggests Escobar could be a good fit in Baltimore to replace J.J. Hardy, or Washington if Trea Turner moves to second base and Daniel Murphy moves to first base.

Other top 20 free agents include Seung-Hwan Oh, Marco Estrada, Matt Wieters, Carlos Santana, Todd Frazier, Lance Lynn, Chris Tillman, Michael Pineda, Jay Bruce, and Eduardo Nunez. Here is a complete list of free agents for next winter from MLB Trade Rumors. Do you agree with Bowden’s rankings?