The Royals traded Brandon Moss to the Oakland Athletics on Monday, leaving them with just one first baseman on the 40-man roster, young Samir Duenez, who has yet to play above AA. That has led to wild speculation that the Royals are about to re-sign Eric Hosmer.
We are nearly into February, when teams will begin reporting to spring training in just a few weeks, and Hosmer remains unsigned. The Padres have been the most visible suitor, with bigger market contenders like the Yankees and Red Sox presumably passing on the chance to land Hosmer’s “Prestige Value.” But according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Padres don’t believe they are the top bidder.
But even before Monday’s trade, one source said the Padres believed the Royals may have made a more lucrative proposal to Hosmer.
The Padres’ offer, extended weeks ago, is for seven years and less than $140 million, though the exact margin remains unknown. A report that the Royals offered seven years and $147 million has been refuted, but team officials have been public about their interest in retaining Hosmer.
He reports the Padres could tweak their offer - which owner Ron Fowler stated publicly was a “creative” one - but were not expected to significantly increase their offer. Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star refuted a report by Bob Nightengale of USA Today that the Royals had offered $147 million, but indicated that the club continues to be interested in bringing back their All-Star first baseman. Dayton Moore has made clear the team is taking a “wait-and-see” approach with Hosmer, and with the market seemingly drying up, the Royals could swoop in and sign him.
The Royals have cut payroll to about $110 million, according to Cot’s Contracts, a figure Dayton Moore targeted earlier this off-season, although he seemed to indicate there was some wiggle room. The addition of some young starting pitching depth this off-season - Trevor Oaks, Jesse Hahn, Scott Barlow, Brad Keller, and Burch Smith - may make it more feasible to dump the $9 million salary of Jason Hammel. Reliever Kelvin Herrera and his $7.9 million salary could also be on the trading block.
Clearing that much payroll may make it more palatable to sign Hosmer to a $140 million contract, particularly if the deal is backloaded. The Royals may also figure that Hosmer is the kind of player they can bust their planned budget on.
Is Hosmer headed home? The signs certainly indicate the Royals will be acquiring a first baseman soon. We’ll just have to wait and see if we’re due for a Royals reunion.