Eric Hosmer Rumors
Jason Vargas and Zach Britton both threw nine shutout innings in a remarkable pitcher's duel tonight in Baltimore. After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the 12th, the Orioles came back to win the game in the bottom half of the inning on a bases-loaded single from J.J. Hardy.
Some news from around the majors...
- "The C.C. Sabathia opt out situation is sure to be messy," predicts Mike Axisa of the River Avenue Blues blog, but Axisa thinks Brian Cashman's upcoming contract negotiations with the Yankees "will be messier." Cashman is in the last year of his deal with New York and, as per club policy, the team won't discuss an extension in mid-season. There has been some speculation about Cashman's future in the Bronx given his disagreements with upper management about the Rafael Soriano and Derek Jeter signings last winter, but Axisa thinks those signings give Cashman the leverage in negotiations, "plus the fact that there’s no ready-made, in-house replacement available."
- As for Sabathia, Axisa thinks he will almost surely opt out of his contract, and the southpaw will look at Cliff Lee's five-year, $120MM deal with Philadelphia "as a starting point."
- The Blue Jays lost Scott Downs to free agency last winter, but as MLB.com's Arden Zwelling writes, Marc Rzepczynski has been a superb fit as Downs' replacement in Toronto's bullpen.
- Fangraphs' Reed MacPhail wonders why teams are still paying top-dollar for relief pitching.
- When the sale of the Astros to Jim Crane is finalized, Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle reports that former Houston Rockets president George Postolos will be the Astros' new CEO. Justice also speculates that Crane may try to get Andrew Friedman to return to his hometown to become the Astros' new GM, but it's extremely doubtful Friedman would leave Tampa Bay just to start another rebuilding process elsewhere.
- In his latest chat with fans, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star would be "astounded" if the Royals didn't quickly pursue signing Eric Hosmer to a long-term extension, though it could be "a tough sell" given that Scott Boras is Hosmer's agent. Earlier today, Dutton's Star colleague Sam Mellinger, proposed a six-year, $25MM extension for Hosmer (with three option years and possibly $40MM more added on), though MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith pointed out that Hosmer and Boras would surely turn down such an offer.
Not only did the Royals beat the Yankees in Yankee Stadium last night, they did so behind Eric Hosmer's first MLB home run. Here's the latest on the Royals, with a focus on Hosmer...
- Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star argues that the Royals should attempt to sign Hosmer to a deal that guarantees him $25MM over six years and includes three club option years that could raise the value of the deal to $65MM over nine years.
- My take: agent Scott Boras would presumably decline the offer, instead of allowing Kansas City to lock Hosmer's free agent years up for below market value. Plus, Hosmer could easily earn more than $25MM for his first three arbitration years if he becomes the player we expect him to be. Ryan Howard, Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols and Mark Teixeira all earned at least $27.9MM for their first three seasons of arbitration. Justin Morneau was inconsistent early in his career, but had still earned over $25MM through his first three arbitration years. Still, as Mellinger says, there’s no harm in asking.
- As Ken Rosenthal points out at FOX Sports, fellow Royals Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur experienced similar hype to Hosmer and they haven't lived up to it. But Gordon and Francoeur like what they see from the rookie and what happened to them won't necessarily happen to Hosmer. Rosenthal's entire piece is worth a read.
- Royals manager Ned Yost told Dick Kaegel of MLB.com that he wants to make sure prospects such as Danny Duffy and Mike Montgomery are "absolutely ready" before calling on them. At this point, Yost says "we're not quite there yet with these kids."
Pirates GM Neal Huntington told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com that he wants “to fight that mentality of, 'We're .500, so we're really on our way.'" Huntington points out that it takes years to develop an elite team and an elite farm system and says one season of .500 ball isn't going to satisfy the Pittsburgh front office. Here are the rest of Stark's rumors from around the league:
- People in the game suggest the Royals' decision to call Eric Hosmer up early may mean they intend to compete in the AL Central this year. Stark hears that the Royals will have money to spend in July if necessary (remember that Gil Meche retired instead of collecting the $12MM he was scheduled to earn).
- The Royals believe Triple-A pitchers Danny Duffy and Mike Montgomery are nearly MLB-ready, so GM Dayton Moore may talk about moving Kyle Davies and Jeff Francis within a few weeks. The Royals probably wouldn't get much for Davies, but Francis could draw interest.
- Erik Bedard could be an attractive trade chip this summer, but one NL executive says the left-hander needs to “prove he can log innings.” Tim Dierkes suggested a month ago that Bedard could have lots of appeal at the deadline.
- Left-hander Randy Flores can opt out of his minor league deal on Sunday if the Padres don't call him up from Triple-A. Cory Luebke is the lone left-hander in the Padres' 'pen at the moment, so they could consider calling on Flores instead of cutting him loose.
- Teams are still skeptical of Francisco Rodriguez, despite his 10 saves and 1.10 ERA. K-Rod has walked 10 of the 73 batters he has faced (16 1/3 innings).
- Stark points out that it's been a while since Giants GM Brian Sabean made win-now midseason trades that cost him top prospects.
Here's the latest from Jayson Stark of ESPN.com ...
- Twins lefty Francisco Liriano could be made available via trade in July if Minnesota continues to struggle, but teams will be hesitant to acquire him because of his inconsistencies. One scout told Stark that Liriano has great stuff, but the southpaw's mechanics are a mess. Liriano is under team control through next season.
- Phillies lefty Cole Hamels' three-year, $20.5MM deal expires after this season, leaving him with one year of arbitration eligibility before free agency. Stark wonders how the Phillies will approach a potential extension for Hamels, and Hamels' agent said that the sides haven't yet discussed such a deal. One point of reference to keep in mind, per Stark: Justin Verlander, whose five-year, $80MM pact with the Tigers bought out three years of arbitration eligibility.
- Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer made his Major League debut today amid much fanfare, but several teams told Stark that they would have waited a while longer so as to ensure that the blue-chipper wouldn't be a Super Two. Kansas City, however, has said all along that it would call up its players when they're ready, according to Stark. Earlier today, Ben Nicholson-Smith examined the financial implications of Hosmer's promotion.
- The Mets and Giants maintain that they haven't discussed a potential trade for shortstop Jose Reyes. However, Stark thinks the Giants will need to address the position, and Reyes is a perfect fit.
Eric Hosmer is hitting like someone who deserves to play in the Major Leagues. You don't put up a .439/.525/.582 line as a 21-year-old at Triple-A unless you're pretty talented, so the Royals are rewarding Hosmer’s ability and performance with a spot on the big league roster.
Not only does the decision make a difference for the current Royals team, it has implications for the future, since Hosmer may now go to arbitration four times, instead of the usual three. An extra year of arbitration could cost the Royals millions, but GM Dayton Moore told ESPN.com's Buster Olney that "right now, he helps us put the best team on the field that we can."
Here’s a detailed breakdown of what Hosmer’s callup means for future Kansas City teams:
The current outlook:
- Service time after 2011 - 0 years, 146 days
- Number of arbitration years - 3 or 4
- Additional earnings through arbitration - four years of arbitration could mean $5-15MM in additional earnings
- Hits free agency - after 2017
What an early June callup would have meant:
- Service time after 2011 - 0 years, 116 days
- Number of arbitration years - 3
- Additional earnings through arbitration - none
- Hits free agency - after 2017
Hosmer will pick up 146 days of service time this year if he’s not optioned back to the minors. Recent history suggests that will be enough for super two status after the 2013 season, assuming he picks up full years of service time in ’12 and ’13.
However, there’s no guarantee that the Royals will be stuck paying the former third overall selection for an extra year of arbitration. Early projections for the upcoming super two cutoff place the minimum at two years and 146 days, a couple of weeks more than usual.
Every year is different and it’s far too early to predict how much service time players will need to qualify as super twos after 2013, but it’s possible that two years and 146 days (Hosmer’s pace) won’t be enough. It’s also possible that the Royals will option Hosmer to the minor leagues, where he wouldn’t collect MLB service time.
Though there’s now a distinct possibility that the Royals will go to arbitration four times with Hosmer and pay him millions extra in the process, too many variables - possible demotions, unknown cutoff dates, the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement - exist for anyone to say with certainty that Moore made a poor financial decision by calling on the top prospect when he did.
Here’s some welcome news for those of us who enjoy trades: executives tell ESPN.com’s Buster Olney that trade talk has started between teams. At this point, GMs are checking in with one another about possible needs and real trade talk probably won’t begin for another month. Here’s the latest from Olney:
- Royals GM Dayton Moore says first base prospect Eric Hosmer accelerated his own timetable by hitting .439/.525/.582 at Triple-A. Instead of keeping Hosmer in the minors for another month or so to prevent him from going to arbitration four times, the Royals called him up as soon as he appeared to be ready.
- ”Right now, he helps us put the best team on the field that we can," Moore told Olney.
- The Royals had expected to call Hosmer up after about 250 minor league plate appearances, but he’s in the majors after 118 trips to the plate for Omaha.
- Michael Pineda’s strong pitching is convincing scouts and executives that the Mariners should hold onto Felix Hernandez and look to contend before King Felix’s contract expires after the 2014 season.
The Royals defeated the Orioles this afternoon to earn their fifth victory in their last six games. The big headline of the day for Kansas City, however, has to do with a certain minor league call-up...
- The Royals announced that Eric Hosmer has been called up to the big leagues to replace Kila Ka'aihue at first base. Hosmer was the third overall pick of the 2008 amateur draft and was rated by Baseball America as the eighth-best prospect in the game before this season. He has a career .886 OPS in the minors, and had a superb .439/.525/.582 line in 118 plate appearances for Triple-A Omaha this season.
- MLB.com's Dick Kaegel says the club wanted Hosmer to have around 250 Triple-A at-bats before coming to the majors, but it's interesting that K.C. pulled the trigger now and not next month. The early call-up means that Hosmer is likely to pick up enough service time to become a Super Two player, meaning he'll earn an extra year of salary arbitration. This, of course, depends on if the Super Two rules aren't changed in the next collective bargaining agreement.
- Noel Arguelles is pitching well in his first month of pro baseball, writes Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star.
- You can follow all the latest Kansas City news on MLBTR's Royals-centric Facebook page, RSS and Twitter feeds.
Teams like saving money and extending their control over top young players. Why wouldn't they? Having impact players on affordable contracts simplifies a GM's job. As a result, teams call top young players up strategically every season to control their service time and, in doing so, delay their free agency and/or limit their earnings.
Though service time is a consideration all season long, it's most evident at two times: in April and again midseason, around early June. If teams wait until a few weeks after the season has begun to call a prospect up for his MLB debut, the player doesn't collect a full year of service time, which delays his free agency by a year.
The precise date until which teams must wait before calling prospects up varies each year and according to whether players are on the 40-man roster. Now that we're nearly three weeks into the season, even prospects on the 40-man roster can be called up, since they have spent the requisite 20-day period in the minor leagues.
None of the following prospects have big league service time, which means that their teams can call them up at any point and keep them through the 2017 season, if not longer: Dustin Ackley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas, Jesus Montero, Eric Hosmer, Julio Teheran, Manny Banuelos, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles.
On the other hand, Michael Pineda, Zach Britton and Brandon Belt are now in the majors, picking up service time. Because those players are now on MLB rosters, they're currently on track to hit free agency after the 2016 season. However, if their respective teams option them to the minors for 20 days or more, their path to free agency could be slowed as well (that's an immediate possibility for Belt and a long-term one for the pair of impressive rookie hurlers).
That may sounds complicated, but it's the easy part. Later this spring, in late May and early June, the guessing game begins. Teams do not (and can not) know exactly when future cutoffs for super two status will be, so if they want to play it safe and ensure that prospects like Montero and Ackley only go to arbitration three times, they'll want to wait until at least the middle of June before calling them up.
Royals GM Dayton Moore told John Sickels of Minor League Ball that it takes time to develop prospects and turn them into major leaguers. Moore says he understands fans' concerns about the Royals' recent history of losing and shares their excitement about the players currently in the Royals' highly touted system. Here are the details:
- Moore says players can take a few years to develop, pointing to Billy Butler. The Royals extended Butler earlier in the year because he has improved every year and they "think he's about to take that to another level."
- Hitters take time to develop, since it's hard for them "to develop beyond their level of competition." In other words they need to face good pitching to learn to hit it.
- The Royals are "very optimistic" about Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, partly because the two top prospects have experienced failure.
- Moustakas "can stick at third base, no question," according to Moore, who likes the infielder's arm and body control.
- Hosmer and Moustakas could push Kila Ka'aihue into a reserve role, but the Royals say he's capable of more. "We think he can hit .240-.260, hit 20-25 homers, .370 OBP," Moore said. "It will be a nice problem fitting all these guys in the lineup."
- Christian Colon, the team's top pick in 2010, "can be an Orlando Cabrera type at short, or a Placido Polanco if he moves to second," Moore said.
- Moore says the Royals need more speed and athleticism. The GM says his ideal team would have a center fielder like Adam Jones or Torii Hunter - someone with speed, defense and power.
Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star answered a number of Royals-related questions during an online chat with fans today. Here are a few of the more notable items...
- The Royals' highly-touted farm system has more depth than ever, so Dutton explains that this wave of prospects will be different than past (failed) "youth movements" in Kansas City. "Will some guys flop? Absolutely," Dutton writes. "But the depth is so good that not ALL of them will flop. Some should be really good."
- Dutton thinks Mike Moustakas will be in the majors by June, but Eric Hosmer may be a September call-up at best since K.C. wants to give Kila Ka'aihue "an extended look."
- Speaking of Ka'aihue, Dutton notes that if Hosmer lives up to expectations, the question for Kansas City becomes whether Ka'aihue or Billy Butler is the better long-term DH. You'd expect Butler would have the edge given his proven hitting abilty and recent contract extension, but that team-friendly deal (four years/$30MM, plus a 2015 team option) could make Butler very attractive on the trade market.
- Moustakas' arrival could turn Wilson Betemit into "trade bait," but Dutton notes that Betemit could take over at second if Chris Getz can't handle the job.
- The Royals have no interest in Michael Young. He's both too costly and would block "high-quality alternatives" from the minors at various infield positions.
- "The Royals appear committed to opening the season with Melky Cabrera in center," Dutton writes. Kansas City signed Cabrera before they acquired Lorenzo Cain from Milwaukee, but Dutton notes that Cain could he called up from the minors should he play well. Cabrera is only slated to earn $1.25MM in 2011, so the Royals wouldn't be sending a lot of money to the bench if Cain usurped the center field job. Dutton mentions later in the chat that the Royals can be flexible with Cain since he has minor league options left.
- Dutton thinks the Blue Jays and Braves will regret trading minor league left-hander Tim Collins. The 21-year-old was sent to Atlanta in the Yunel Escobar deal last summer and then became a Royal at the trade deadline as part of the package that sent Kyle Farnsworth and Rick Ankiel to the Braves.
- "It's a long shot" that the Royals would try to sign Zack Greinke after the right-hander's contract expires after 2012.