First baseman Eric Hosmer is a free agent after seven seasons and a World Series ring with the Kansas City Royals and teams should line up to sign him. But in a shallow free agent class where Hosmer is easily the biggest fish, which team will be lucky enough to land his services?
Hosmer had a career year in 2017. Not only did he match a career high with 25 home runs and 94 RBI, but he also appeared in all 162 games and hit a career-best .318. Hosmer also won his third Gold Glove and first Silver Slugger while posting a 4.1 WAR.
Make no mistake, there are plenty of teams that could seek an upgrade at first base via the free agent market, but those that have the cash necessary to ink Hosmer are few and far between.
1 Texas Rangers
Texas has internal options to fill its hole at first base, particularly in Joey Gallo and the 41 home runs he hit last year, but GM Jon Daniels would probably prefer a more experienced player who can hit better than .209.
There's also prospect Ronald Guzman, who hit .298 with 12 home runs at Triple-A Round Rock in 2017, but he'll need another year of development before joining the big league roster.
This leaves the Rangers as an extreme dark horse to sign Hosmer, whose champion experience and lefty swing could be a prime fit for Globe Life Park in Arlington. His power numbers there could have him hitting north of 30 home runs while maintaining a strong batting average. Texas could subsequently flip Guzman for some pitching, but it's really a question of if ownership wants to spend the money in free agency with payroll for next year already slated to be over $108m, of which $20.75m is in retained salary.
That said, though the odds of Hosmer ending up in the Lone Star State are slim, don't be surprised if they emerge as a mystery team.
2 St. Louis Cardinals
It was reported yesterday by Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports that the Cardinals were looking to add a bat to plug into the middle of their order. Though it isn't like the team to spend big in free agency, with few exceptions, Hosmer fits this mold perfectly.
Keep in mind that St. Louis also played seven different players at first base last season, with Matt Carpenter leading the way with 120 games at the position. He was moved back to third base towards season's end despite being a defensive liability there, and St. Louis may choose to assume that risk next year if it means adding a reliable bat in Hosmer to man first base.
The Cardinals have the money to sign him and he would bring a championship pedigree to a team one bat away from contending for the NL Central crown, so this could just come down to simple dollars.
3 Seattle Mariners
Seattle is looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001 and though pitching should be the team's first priority, adding a big bat at first base could be what the team needs in case GM Jerry Dipoto strikes out in adding an arm.
The Mariners have plenty of money to spend thanks to a lucrative TV deal, and odds are greater than none that Yonder Alonso will not be back in a Seattle uniform in 2018, and the same goes for Danny Valencia.
Hosmer's power numbers would take a hit in spacious Safeco Field, as would his batting average, but he could still put up respectable numbers and provide respectable defense that signing him would make him worth the price. Hosmer is also the clubhouse leader that Seattle needs and adding his championship experience could be the missing piece.
4 Kansas City Royals
Royals GM Dayton Moore has publicly said he would love to bring back both Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas on new contracts. That would be great for Kansas City, but Moore is also aware he cannot offer the same amount per year as some bigger market teams.
Look, Hosmer will get paid. It's just a matter of how much. By that token, it wouldn't be a shock to see him take a hometown discount to remain with the team he helped bring from cellar-dweller to World Series Champion. If that were to happen, it would seriously be the shock of free agency season.
5 Boston Red Sox
If there's one team that could throw a ton of money at Hosmer hoping he'll sign with them, it's the Red Sox. Boston will let Mitch Moreland walk in free agency and will look to fill that hole with a slick fielder and reliable hitter.
Hosmer's bat would be just what the doctor ordered for a Red Sox lineup that ranked 10th in runs scored, but 27th in team home runs. Boston won the AL East, yes, but that can be attributed to the New York Yankees' midseason slump. Had Boston had a bat to help compensate for losing David Ortiz, they easily could have run away with the division.
Adding Hosmer would be an instant upgrade for Boston and make them an early favorite for the AL East despite the Yankees' youthful core, although team president Dave Dombrowski would surely have to overpay him. Given Hosmer's talent, it would be worth it.
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