Now that Giancarlo Stanton is in the Bronx and Shohei Ohtani has signed with the Angels, it’s time to look out for big name free agents to sign with ball clubs over the next few weeks. Eric Hosmer is the biggest first baseman on the market now that Carlos Santana signed with the Philadelphia Phillies and Mitch Moreland stayed with the Boston Red Sox.
It looked as if Hosmer and the Red Sox would be a good fit but with Boston bringing back Moreland, that leaves fewer options regarding where Hosmer will play next season. The Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres appear to be the most likely potential landing places for Hosmer, but which team would be the better fit?
Kansas City Royals: A clubhouse leader
Hosmer has been praised by the Kansas City coaching staff and front office for his leadership in the clubhouse over the last couple of years. With the team possibly going through a rebuilding stage, Hosmer would be a great fit to bring back since he was the centerpiece of the rebuilding process that led to back-to-back World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015, the latter of which resulted in KC winning.
The Royals could also bring back Mike Moustakas or Lorenzo Cain, but Hosmer provides more tools than Moustakas and Cain. He has a .995 career fielding percentage, which is ten points better than Cain’s .985 and 35 points better than Moustakas’ .960, and he provides a decent batting average with consistent power.
Moustakas and Cain are great clubhouse leaders too but Hosmer is the better player of the three. The only other option for the Royals at first base unless they were to sign someone else, is Brandon Moss, who hit a mere .207 and holds a career .990 fielding percentage at the position. Moss’s veteran presence is good for a young Royals team, but Hosmer can play the field and be a leader better than anyone on the club.
San Diego Padres: The need for an upgrade and leadership in the clubhouse
The Padres are in the same position as the Royals as they too are amid rebuilding their club to compete in an already competitive NL West. The Padres have the money to sign Hosmer and the young talent to persuade him he could be the key piece behind some future winning years in San Diego.
The Padres have Wil Myers, who was converted to first base from the outfield in 2016, but Myers is better in the outfield than at first. Myers is a great defender, posting a .996 career fielding percentage at first but has a perfect fielding percentage as a center fielder and left fielder. Hosmer wouldn’t be a huge upgrade defensively, but offensively is a different story.
Myers may be a better power hitter over Hosmer, blasting a career-high 30 home runs last season versus Hosmer’s career high of 25 both in 2016 and 2017, but Hosmer is a lifetime .284 hitter versus Myers’ career .254 average. Hosmer is an upgrade in that he has better tools than Myers but how long would he stay in San Diego, especially if things go south while he’s there?
Better fit: Royals
The Royals have said they want to bring back any players they can from their successful World Series teams and with the team looking to go on another run like they did in 2014 and 2015; they are the best team for Hosmer to play for in 2018. Hosmer’s leadership skills and ability to play the field better than the average ballplayer should make him more appealing to the Royals than Moustakas and Cain.
As for the Padres, they aren’t in desperate need of a first baseman unless they want someone who can hit consistently, unlike Myers. The Padres have made good trades this offseason by acquiring shortstop Freddy Galvis from the Phillies and third baseman Chase Headley from the New York Yankees. If the Padres want to move Myers back to the outfield, Headley could theoretically take over first base duties and Cory Spangenberg or Yangervis Solarte can handle the hot corner.
The Padres are also risking more than the Royals because if things go downhill, like they did in 2015 and 2016, Hosmer will be on another club less than two years from now and the money will have gone to waste. If he stays with the Royals, he will be around until the club feels future prospects can take on his leadership role and develop into a winning team by themselves.
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