For most Royals fans, the announcement that Eric Hosmer had signed to play baseball somewhere other than Kansas City was one that has been expected for years. We had the same thoughts about Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas, sure, but Hosmer was more pronounced.
He had the superstar vibe to him. He had the charisma, the swagger, the hair. And while his performance hasn’t elevated him to that superstar claim, we all knew that he would get a massive payday and some of us were thinking it all the way back in 2011 when he finished 3rd in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
This day was inevitable.
It would sting more if there weren’t flags flying over the Hall of Fame, but it still stings. Given the run he and the Royals took us on in 2014 and 2015, the way things ended just doesn’t sit right with many people. Back-to-back mediocre seasons wasn’t how the run was supposed to end and it wasn’t how the Core Four’s last season together was supposed to end.
The run they took us on was a fairy tale and Kansas City wanted another.
However, while his departure, and even how he handled it, might sting, I think most people would agree that it was for the best. In other words, Eric Hosmer choosing to sign an 8-year, $144 million contract with the Padres is a win-win for both Hosmer and the Royals.
For Eric, the win is a clear one: the man got paid. While there are still fans out there who get angry at players who leave for money (if that’s you, then this will make you angry), most people can agree that this contract is fantastic for Hosmer and as such, we should happy for him. Hosmer and his family are set for life and that’s awesome.
For the Royals, the win is more bittersweet, but it’s also clear: it was time to rebuild. I was pretty firmly in the boat that wanted Hosmer back but also understood how bad of a baseball move bringing him back would have been. The Royals had the core of their 2014 and 2015 pennants intact for both 2016 and 2017 but managed only 81 and 80 wins in those respective seasons.
And while the Royals injury-marred 81 wins in 2016 gave fans hope for rejuvenation in 2017, the results that followed were a clear indication that the run was over. Hosmer and Moustakas had career years offensively, while Cain stayed healthy and was a 4-fWAR player for the third time in four seasons. Despite these strong performances, the Royals finished below .500 for the first time since 2012.
Even if the Royals had managed to retain Hosmer, Cain, and Moustakas, they wouldn’t have been legitimate contenders and would have been putting off the inevitable. With Hosmer now gone and Moustakas no longer a target, the Royals are free to give Jorge Soler, Hunter Dozier, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Jorge Bonifacio the at-bats they wouldn’t have gotten with those guys in town.
Dayton Moore is now projected to possess at least four of the first 45 picks in the upcoming draft and could get another if Moustakas signs for more than $50 million.
It is time for a rebuild and even though it sucks, Hosmer going to San Diego was the best case scenario for both sides. The 2015 championship made it easier to overlook how poorly the Royals have drafted in recent years and re-signing Hosmer wouldn’t have fixed that. It was time to move on.
And the Royals will be better for it.