Of the four longtime Royals regulars that hit the open market this winter, Alcides Escobar has re-upped with the team on a one-year deal while Lorenzo Cain has gone back to the organization that drafted him (the Brewers) on a five-year pact — the largest of the offseason to date. The other two, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, remain available for anyone to sign, and Kansas City GM Dayton Moore spoke about the reunion possibilities in an interview with Soren Petro of 810 AM’s The Program (all links to Twitter).
Hosmer, of course, has been a priority for the Royals all offseason. Moore made no effort to hide the fact that a long-term deal with Hosmer remains at the top of the team’s wishlist, with the two sides continuing to try to work out a deal. “We’ve had a lot of discussion over the last week,” said Moore of his talks with Hosmer’s camp. “I can’t say we’ve made much progress, but whenever you’re talking that not a bad thing.”
Kansas City’s offer was reported last week to be larger than the only other known seven-year offer received by Hosmer, which came from San Diego. And, much like Padres chairman Ron Fowler did last month, Moore suggested that there’s some hesitation from his own organization to push the envelope further.
“We’ve exchanged contract numbers,” the GM stated. “It doesn’t make sense for a team like us to set the market on a player like Hosmer.”
The Padres and Royals, to this point, essentially are the market for Hosmer, it seems — at least as far as teams willing to commit seven years. Both have made offers to the 28-year-old, and while it’s certainly possible that other teams would jump into the mix should Hosmer’s camp pivot and seek a shorter deal at a larger annual value, Hosmer’s agent Scott Boras is reportedly still pushing for a larger and longer offer than those presented to this point.
Despite the lack of movement on the Hosmer front, it doesn’t seem as if the Royals have a strong desire to change trajectory and re-engage with Moustakas — at least not until the Hosmer situation has been resolved one way or another. Moore made it clear that Hosmer is the team’s priority, while suggesting also that the feeling is somewhat mutual.
“We have options at third,” said Moore. “I wouldn’t say absolutely not. We want to make it clear that Hos is the player that fits us for the future. I want to get through the Hosmer negotiations before we work on Moustakas. … Moustakas had some expectations that were a little different, places he wanted to play. It was clear from the beginning that we weren’t a high priority.”
Indeed, the Royals do have players such as Cheslor Cuthbert and Hunter Dozier as options at the hot corner, to say nothing of some potential action there for Whit Merrifield or Raul Mondesi Jr., depending on how the organization decides to divide up infield time now that Escobar has been re-signed to handle the bulk of the playing time at shortstop. In theory, either Cuthbert or Dozier could play first base as well should Hosmer sign elsewhere, as assistant GM J.J. Piccolo has already suggested as much this offseason. But, the Royals reportedly relish the idea of keeping Hosmer in Kansas City and leveraging his leadership skills as a mentor for the next wave of young Royals talent.
For Moustakas, that marks the second time a general manager has gone on record in the past week to somewhat downplay the possibility of signing him — Mets GM Sandy Alderson did so last week — in addition to last night’s report that the Cardinals don’t seem to be a likely landing spot. While many free agents are struggling to find deals to their liking, many of the top names have at least received fairly lucrative offers, it seems. In addition to Hosmer’s pair of seven-year offers, Yu Darvish has reportedly received at least one five-year offer. The same holds true for J.D. Martinez, while Alex Cobb reportedly turned down a three-year offer from the Cubs worth about $42MM.
So far as has been reported publicly, Moustakas has not yet drawn clear interest or significant offers over the course of the offseason. Several on-paper fits for his services simply don’t have much in the way of financial flexibility, have addressed their needs via trade, or are in the midst of a rebuilding phase and may not be keen on the idea of parting with the requisite draft picks to sign him. Market forces haven’t helped, either. In particular, the Angels signed Zack Cozart to play third — occupying one plausible landing spot — while other teams may prefer the idea of pursuing the older Todd Frazier on a shorter contract.
If Moustakas elects to drop his asking price, it’s possible that his market could accelerate, and there’s certainly the possibility that a Spring Training injury to an established third baseman (especially on a contending club) could open the door for a new destination. For now, though, it still seems to be a waiting game.