At some point during the next six weeks or so, first baseman Eric Hosmer will sign a free agent contract that will make him a very wealthy young man. Well, it'll make him an even wealthier young man. Hosmer, who turned only 28 in October, has already banked more than $35 million in career earnings between salaries and his $6 million draft signing bonus.
Hosmer is a rather divisive player. The numbers say he is an average-ish player who has been worth more than 1.5 WAR only three times in seven MLB seasons. Baseball people talk about him as if he's a top-10 player in the game thanks to his leadership and intangibles, which are obvious assets. Hosmer was a key member of a World Series champion, after all.
One American League manager: 'If you were going to ask me three players to start a team with, Eric Hosmer would be one of them'— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) December 13, 2017
One thing is for certain: Hosmer does not have many suitors, realistically. You can always find a decent first baseman in free agency, and because of that, teams have become reluctant to spend big on the position. Hosmer will get paid. There's no doubt about that. But he has yet to generate the same sort of bidding war as, say, Yu Darvish.
So, with in mind, let's look at all 30 MLB teams and rank them according to how well Hosmer fits their roster. Some teams just have no room for him, which limits his market. Here is our 1-30 ranking -- or, really, a 30-1 ranking -- of potential Hosmer suitors.
30. Miami Marlins
Hosmer grew up in South Florida, so while a homecoming may appeal to him, the Marlins have made it clear they are not spending money this winter. They're subtracting money. Lots of it.
29. Cincinnati Reds
28. Houston Astros
The defending World Series champion Astros have too many first basemen as it is. There's Yuli Gurriel, the starter. Marwin Gonzalez is a high-end utility man with lots of experience at first base. A.J. Reed and Tyler White are buried in the minors. I don't see much reason to think Hosmer to Houston is even remotely possible.
27. Chicago Cubs
In a mad scientist sort of way, the Cubs could work for Hosmer. They could put him in right field -- Hosmer has played five career games in right -- and Jason Heyward in center field, something like that. Realistically though, this isn't happening. If the Cubs spend big this winter, it'll be on pitching.
26. Washington Nationals
Ryan Zimmerman is coming off a very strong 2017 season and the Nationals just signed Matt Adams for the bench, so there's no room for Hosmer here. They can't even play him in right field because of that Bryce Harper guy.
25. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies currently have three first basemen on their roster: Rhys Hoskins, Tommy Joseph, and the recently signed Carlos Santana. They can't even squeeze Hosmer into the outfield since Hoskins has to play out there along with Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr, and Odubel Herrera.
24. Arizona Diamondbacks
23. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles have Chris Davis at first and Mark Trumbo at DH, and Trey Mancini in left field when he should be playing first base or DH. Any money they spend will go to pitching and/or a Manny Machado extension.
22. Pittsburgh Pirates
There's no reason to think the Pirates would spend the kind of money necessary to sign Hosmer, and, even if there were, they wouldn't spend it on a first baseman. Josh Bell just had a fine rookie season at the position.
21. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers are rebuilding and they have to play Miguel Cabrera at first base because Victor Martinez is still locked in at DH. Sign Hosmer for the outfield? Okay, but why? The Tigers are still tearing things down. This is no time to add a big free agent.
20. Cleveland Indians
The recent Yonder Alonso signing takes the Indians out of the running -- they have Alonso for first and Edwin Encarnacion at DH -- though I suppose they could really go all in and sign Hosmer for right field. This is only marginally more likely than the rebuilding Tigers signing Hosmer to play right field.
19. Milwaukee Brewers
I've said several times this offseason the Brewers are my sleeper team. I think they have a stealth big signing in them. The problem with Hosmer is the fact Eric Thames is locked in at first base, and Milwaukee has more outfielders than they could possibly roster. If they spend big, it figures to be on a pitcher.
18. New York Mets
The Mets have spent the offseason crying poor, making a Hosmer signing unlikely. They've also spent the offseason looking for a veteran first baseman, indicating they aren't ready to roll with rookie Dominic Smith full-time. Possible? Sure. Unlikely? Yup.
17. Toronto Blue Jays
16. Texas Rangers
Hosmer at first, Joey Gallo at DH, Shin-Soo Choo in left field, Willie Calhoun in Triple-A? It is doable. The Rangers could spend the money to sign Hosmer and fit him into their roster, if they really want to.
15. Oakland Athletics
Hey, don't laugh at the Athletics ranking this high. They made a run at Encarnacion last winter -- they offered him a higher average annual value than the Indians -- and could put Hosmer at first base with Matt Olson at DH and Khris Davis in left field. The A's have been known to sneak up on everyone to make surprise signings.
14. Atlanta Braves
This past season the Braves played Freddie Freeman at third base so Adams could play first. Would they keep Freeman at third full-time and sign Hosmer for first? Unlikely! But new GM Alex Anthopoulos is known to do crazy things, and this would qualify.
13. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays do not have a first baseman right now -- both Lucas Duda and Logan Morrison are free agents -- so there's an obvious opening in the lineup. Tampa did just trade franchise player Evan Longoria, however. Would they trade Longoria and use the savings to sign Hosmer? Hey, why not?
12. Chicago White Sox
It seems unlikely the White Sox will trade Jose Abreu, so he and Hosmer would have to share first base and DH duties. I keep thinking back to two things. One, the Nationals signing Jayson Werth to show they are a real destination for marquee free agents. And two, Chicago's reported interest in Machado. They want a young star. Could that young star be Hosmer as part of a Werth-esque signing?
11. San Francisco Giants
Even after going 64-98 in 2017, the Giants are clearly making an effort to be competitive in 2017. They made a run at Giancarlo Stanton, have added Longoria, and seem destined to add at least one outfielder. Would they sign Hosmer for first base and play Brandon Belt in left field full-time? Belt does have 67 career games of experience in left. Or maybe Belt stays at first and Hosmer plays the outfield? San Francisco seems pretty desperate to win while Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey are in their primes. Desperation can lead to crazy things.
10. Los Angeles Dodgers
Cody Bellinger can play the outfield. He showed it this year. The Dodgers were not willing to move him out there full-time to make room for an aging Adrian Gonzalez. But for Hosmer? That's a much different story. The big obstacle here is money, as crazy as that sounds. The Dodgers are trying to get under the $197 million luxury tax threshold -- that's what the big Gonzalez-Matt Kemp trade was about, getting under the threshold -- and signing Hosmer would mean blowing that plan up.
9. Seattle Mariners
I might have the Mariners too low. They are slated to platoon Ryon Healy and Rule 5 Draft pick Mike Ford at first base, but those two should be no obstacle for Hosmer, especially with Seattle looking to end baseball's longest postseason drought. After whiffing on Shohei Ohtani, would GM Jerry Dipoto react by making a big splash with Hosmer? I don't think it's as crazy as it sounds.
8. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals went hard after Stanton and "settled" for Marcell Ozuna. There is still room for improvement, of course. Hosmer at first base would mean Matt Carpenter at third base and Jose Martinez serving as a high-end reserve. St. Louis has been connected to third basemen like Machado and Josh Donaldson lately. If that doesn't work out, going for a first baseman like Hosmer and sliding Carpenter over to the hot corner could be Plan B.
7. Minnesota Twins
Joe Mauer's monster contract ends next season, meaning first base is open long-term. In the short-term, Eduardo Escobar is holding down the DH spot, and while he had a fine 2017 season, Hosmer would make the Twins better. Minnesota has been connected to top free agent starters like Darvish and Alex Cobb. If they miss out on the pitchers, the Twins could shift gears and look at Hosmer.
6. Colorado Rockies
Coors Field would certainly help Hosmer's power numbers, if nothing else. The Rockies do have an opening at first base, at least in theory. Rookie Ryan McMahon is slated to play the position next season, and it was only a year ago that Colorado signed Ian Desmond to play first base. That Desmond signing is why I wouldn't rule out the Rockies signing Hosmer, no matter how promising McMahon looks. This team has a knack for coming out of nowhere to make big signings.
5. Los Angeles Angels
Already this offseason the Angels have added Ohtani, Ian Kinsler, and Zack Cozart, and they extended Justin Upton as well. They're clearly trying to win while Mike Trout is still in his prime and under contract. Albert Pujols isn't going anywhere, his contract ensures that, but C.J. Cron shouldn't be enough to deter the Halos from Hosmer, who is the better player at the plate, in the field, and on the bases. Would there be a better way to cap off their offseason?
4. New York Yankees
The Evil Empire is back. The Yankees added Stanton this winter even though they already have a Stanton facsimile (Aaron Judge) in right field. Greg Bird has promise, but he's been unable to stay healthy the last few years, and the Yankees could opt for more of a sure thing at first base. New manager Aaron Boone could also employ a wide-ranging DH rotation with Stanton, Judge, Bird, and Hosmer. The Yankees are trying to get under the $197 million luxury tax threshold, yet they reportedly have enough payroll space for one Hosmer-sized signing, conveniently enough.
3. Boston Red Sox
It is a foregone conclusion the Red Sox will add a big bat this offseason. J.D. Martinez is the most likely candidate, especially after the BoSox re-signed Mitch Moreland earlier this week. Given how the Pablo Sandoval situation played out, would it be that surprising if the Red Sox cut Hanley Ramirez and used Hosmer and Moreland at first base and DH? President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is known to do wild things. He once gave Prince Fielder a nine-year contract and moved Miguel Cabrera to third base, remember.
2. San Diego Padres
Wil Myers has already said to make room for Hosmer, so that's not a problem. The Padres have been after Hosmer all winter and seem to want him to be the center piece of their rebuild, similar to Werth and the Nationals years ago. San Diego can not offer Hosmer the chance to win immediately, but they can offer him the chance to get in on the ground floor of what could be a very good team in two or three years. The Padres have a top farm system, a great ballpark, and they play in a great city. There are worst places to land.
1. Kansas City Royals
In the end, there is no better fit for Hosmer than the Royals, and vice versa. He is a hero and a rock star in Kansas City, he knows the coaching staff and the front office, as well as most of the players, and they offer him a chance to be one of the rare players who spends his entire career with one team. Chances are Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain won't be around going forward, but bringing Hosmer back allows the team to move forward with a core of Hosmer, Salvador Perez, and Danny Duffy. Could be worse. A lot worse.