Kansas City Royals: Team prepares for difficult offseason
Three key players from KC’s World Series seasons hit the free agent market this winter. Who will they keep and who will walk?
As the offseason approaches, everyone will keep their eyes on where this year’s free agents sign. Three of the biggest names on the market happen to play for the Kansas City Royals: Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer. They were arguably the three core pieces behind the team’s World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015, the latter of which resulted in a championship. The Royals won’t be able to keep all three guys unless they take considerable pay cuts, and the decision becomes more difficult with all three putting up career seasons. So who should they keep, let walk, and attempt to bring back if they can?
Keep: Eric Hosmer
Eric Hosmer is having an unbelievable bounce-back season after hitting .266 last year. He’s hitting a career-high .321 and also has 24 home runs at this point in the season. Hosmer hasn’t reached his peak yet at just 27 years old, meaning the Royals could easily sign him to a four-year deal or lock him up on a long-term contract.
Hosmer is arguably the face of the franchise and he could take on a great leadership role for the upcoming young talent in the likes of Whit Merrifield, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Jorge Bonifacio. Plus, the first base market is very crowded, meaning it’ll be difficult for Hosmer to find a job anywhere outside the organization. That gives the Royals more reason to sign him to a healthy contract this offseason.
Let Walk: Mike Moustakas
Moustakas finally figured things out at the major league level after a mid-season demotion to the minors in 2014. Now, he’s arguably the best power hitter for the Royals. He holds the new single-season Royals home run record with 38, passing Steve Balboni’s record of 36 set in 1975, and has a career-high 85 RBI.
The reason to let Moustakas go is that he’s turned into a power slugger and power sluggers aren’t getting paid like a regular hitter, thus why it makes more sense for Hosmer to get paid. Besides, the Royals have Cheslor Cuthbert, who filled in for Moustakas in 2016 after he tore his ACL. Cuthbert hasn’t played a lot this year, but he’s a viable option over the next few seasons for a team looking to bring a winning culture back to Kansas City. Unlike first base, there are several other free agents at third base this offseason, meaning Moustakas will get a lot of attention from other clubs, such as the Los Angeles Angels and Toronto Blue Jays.
Try to bring back: Lorenzo Cain
Lorenzo Cain is nearing the wrong side of 30, meaning his days as an elite center fielder may be numbered. He hasn’t lost a beat on the hitting spectrum, however, which is why the Royals should bring back the 31-year-old for a couple more seasons. If it weren’t for the Royals giving veteran Alex Gordon a four-year deal in 2015, which hasn’t looked good at all, Cain would have probably received a contract sooner.
Signing Cain to a deal with only two years on it would fit in the Royals budget but if they can move Gordon and his awful contract, the team might sign Cain for more years. He has great leadership abilities too, making him and Hosmer ideal players to bring back to help mentor young and upcoming talent. It wouldn’t hurt the Royals by not bringing Cain back, but he’s definitely a fan and clubhouse favorite.