While the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer will discuss a contract extension until Opening Day, there’s only a “remote” chance a deal will come together by then, per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star.
Kansas City has “been nothing but supportive,” Hosmer said Monday, but Dodd writes that the Scott Boras client regards the idea of reaching the open market next winter as intriguing. Hosmer could end up with a $100MM-plus deal between now and the 2018 campaign, Dodd notes, though the 27-year-old indicated that rumors he’s pushing for a decadelong accord are false.
“That’s where you guys get everything mixed up,” Hosmer said. “I never said anything about that. I never said anything about a 10-year deal.”
It’s debatable whether Hosmer would be worth a major investment. After all, the former star prospect hasn’t exhibited much consistency since breaking into the league in 2011, having mixed productive offensive seasons with underwhelming ones. Hosmer was at his best in 2015, when he posted a .297/.363/.459, 3.4-fWAR season in 667 plate appearances and helped the Royals to their first World Series title since 1985. But he took sizable steps backward last year, another 667-PA campaign, as he slashed a mediocre .266/.328/.433 and logged a negative fWAR (minus-0.2) despite swatting a career-high 25 home runs.
Across 3,722 major league plate trips, Hosmer has recorded an unspectacular .277/.335/.428 line to go with just 5.6 fWAR. As FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan pointed out earlier Tuesday, Hosmer has been as valuable per 600 PAs as Mitch Moreland since 2014. Moreover, projections for 2017 place Hosmer in the same company as Mike Napoli and Chris Carter. Moreland, Napoli and Carter, all first basemen, had to settle for one-year pacts ranging from $3.5MM to $8.5MM guaranteed in free agency this winter. Those are obviously far cries from substantial paydays in today’s league.
Hosmer, in fairness, is several years younger than each of those 30-somethings, and Sullivan noted there could be reason to expect better from him going forward. Whether it will hold up is debatable, but Hosmer has performed well in clutch situations. He also could be a better defender than the metrics give him credit for, and there might be untapped potential on the offensive end, Sullivan observes. Still, as Sullivan concluded, it doesn’t seem as if Hosmer has done enough up to now to justify an enormous contract.
For the Royals, locking Hosmer up by April would likely mean awarding him a deal more valuable than the franchise record-setting, $72MM pact they gave outfielder Alex Gordon as a free agent last year. That would be difficult for a medium-payroll club that also has decisions to make on soon-to-be free agents like outfielder Lorenzo Cain and third baseman Mike Moustakas by next winter.