Hosmer sweepstakes a guessing game

Royals, Padres both reportedly offer first baseman seven-year deal

January 5th, 2018

The fact that in this quiet offseason there is a reported bidding war going on for -- and a bidding war between two teams that pretty much never get into bidding wars -- is fascinating.
It has been reported that the Padres and Royals have both offered Hosmer a seven-year deal worth at least $140 million. This is startling for many reasons, one being that none of the big-money teams -- the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Giants and Angels -- have expressed interest; they have first basemen. The Red Sox, a team that was predicted to be the likely high bidder, seemed to drop out when they re-signed Mitch Moreland.
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So, who exactly pushed up the Hosmer bidding to these prices?
Have the Royals and Padres been high-bidding each other? It doesn't make a lot of sense. The largest contract the Padres have given in their history was $83 million, and they just gave that to , who happens to play first base.
The largest contract the Royals have given was the $72 million they gave to , a stifling contract that -- as the Royals head into rebuilding mode -- stands as a hard reminder of what can happen when you let your heart guide your decisions.
None of this really stands up to reason. The only explanations I can come up with are:

  1. Agent Scott Boras is some sort of James Bond villain supergenius.
  2. Some people really, really, really like Eric Hosmer.
  3. The bidding war report is overblown.
    There are reasons to at least partially accept each explanation.
    Boras can be a Bond supervillain; he's blown up the moon before for players. This is a guy who got Prince Fielder more than $200 million as the slugger headed into his 30s. This is a guy who got Barry Zito the largest contract given to a pitcher, just as he was coming off three average seasons. He certainly has a lot more to work with with Hosmer.

And that's the second point: Hosmer is certainly a great player. He's coming off his best season, during which he hit .318, slugged .498 and won his fourth career American League Gold Glove Award at first base. He just turned 28, and there are those who believe he will still get better.
But even more than Hosmer's production, there are a lot of people around baseball who love what he means to a team. He's always positive and enthusiastic. He lifts up his teammates, but is also not afraid to call them out if he senses a lack of effort. He takes blame and passes on credit. He's aggressive, and that aggressiveness is contagious. He is absolutely someone you want in your clubhouse. You could see the right kind of team paying a premium for those qualities.
But I'm going with No. 3 -- the overblown theory. I'm not saying the Padres are without interest. I know the Royals would like to bring Hosmer back. I am saying that until I see it signed, something doesn't add up about the reported offers on the table.
Start with the Royals: General manager Dayton Moore and Co. know that their future -- certainly for the next two or three years -- will be spent rebuilding. Sure, it would be nice to have a guy like Hosmer to help out the younger players, but $140 million for that? I can't see it.
In some ways, the Padres make even less sense. They want to take a step forward next year, and Hosmer could help their lineup. But acquiring Hosmer would mean moving Myers back to the outfield, where he struggled. That's partially why they moved him to first base. Why would San Diego give out the largest contract in franchise history in order to rearrange its roster?
I could be wrong. Maybe the Padres and Royals are having some feverish bidding war for Hosmer, and some other team like the Cardinals is looking to dive in. I don't see it. But if it's real, I will tip my cap to Boras for blowing up another moon.