Here’s the latest baseball news from the Show Me State…
- Of all the Royals’ big free agents this winter, Eric Hosmer seems to be the team’s top priority, and Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star looks at what would need to happen for the team to re-sign the star first baseman. In short, Hosmer’s market would need to be much softer than expected, which would allow the Royals to stay in the bidding — the scenario would be akin to how K.C. was able to bring back another homegrown star in Alex Gordon two years ago. Realistically, the Royals need both Hosmer to find a thin market and for him to be willing to accept a slight discount on his asking price, and “even internally, club officials acknowledge this is unlikely,” Mellinger writes.
- Should Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas all leave in free agency, the club “would effectively be admitting a rebuild” by having to rely on internal options or lower-tier free agents to fill the holes, Mellinger notes. On the other hand, GM Dayton Moore “would never commit to a virtual tank” in the fashion of the Astros, Cubs, or White Sox. Instead, Mellinger suggests that the Royals could try to stay competitive enough in 2018 to take advantage of a weakened AL Central, such as how the Twins gained a surprise wild card berth this season.
- If the Royals are hoping for a cooler market for Hosmer, they could be helped by the fact that so many big-market teams are already set at first base, ESPN’s Buster Olney observes in his latest subscription-only column. The Red Sox and Yankees could use upgrades at first but are both looking to get under the luxury tax threshold, while the Angels would probably only be in the Hosmer mix if Justin Upton opted out of his deal. One intriguing scenario Olney floats (based on just his own speculation) is the Cardinals trading Matt Carpenter and signing Hosmer as the everyday first baseman. This move would, on paper, address the Cards’ wish to be more athletic and better defensively, though it should be noted that the Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150 metrics have actually presented Hosmer as a below-average defender over the last two seasons.
- “Whether it’s the bullpen or the lineup, the Cardinals stated goals for 2018 are fortify and simplify,” Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes in an overview of the team’s offseason plans. The roster was often in flux last season thanks to injuries, some unexpected dropoffs in performance and some new faces earning increased playing time, so the Cardinals are planning on more lineup stability next year. There hasn’t been any consideration given to a rebuild, as the Cards feel they have both the money and farm system depth to stay competitive while remaking the roster at the same time.
- Clubhouse issues and a lack of fundamentals plagued the Cards all season, as Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch argues that the team needs to re-commit to its Cardinal Way mantra. Some players were annoyed by a “lackadaisical atmosphere” inside the clubhouse throughout the season, though a players-only dinner arranged by Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright in early August served as a good wakeup call for the team.