The calendar has flipped to 2018 and it appears the market foris finally starting to heat up.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer has seven-year contract offers in hand from the Kansas City Royals, his former club, and the San Diego Padres, the team most connected to him this winter. From Nightengale:
The Kansas City Royals have offered Hosmer a franchise-record seven-year, $147 million contract, persons close to Hosmer told USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity since negotiations are still undergoing.
Hosmer also has a seven-year, $140 million offer from the Padres, people close to Hosmer say, which is $1 million less a year than the Royals' deal.
The length of the proposals were confirmed by high-ranking members of the Padres and Royals, but they declined to divulge the total guarantee, or whether opt-out provisions or buyouts are in the offers.
Hosmer is seeking at least an eight-year or nine-year deal, but it's unknown whether either team will increase their offer to meet Hosmer's request.
The seven-year contract offers are on par with the deals signed by Jacoby Ellsbury (seven years, $153 million) and Chris Davis (seven years, $161 million) in recent years. The $20 million to $21 million average annual value would be in line with fellow first baseman Carlos Santana ($20 million), who signed a few weeks ago.
Hosmer, who turned only 28 in October, is a divisive player seen in different lights by baseball people and the stat community. Baseball folks see a franchise type player thanks to Hosmer's leadership, his athleticism, and his all-around play. The numbers, meanwhile, suggest Hosmer is a very inconsistent player from year-to-year with a short track record of being the kind of offensive force typically associated with big money first basemen.
- 2011: 118 OPS+ and +1.5 WAR
- 2012: 81 OPS+ and -0.4 WAR
- 2013: 118 OPS+ and +3.5 WAR
- 2014: 99 OPS+ and +0.8 WAR
- 2015: 122 OPS+ and +3.6 WAR
- 2016: 102 OPS+ and +1.0 WAR
- 2017: 132 OPS+ and +4.0 WAR
The biggest knock on Hosmer offensively is his high ground ball rate. He is one of the most extreme ground ball hitters in baseball. Check out his year-to-year grounder rates:
Ground balls do not go for extra-base hits often and they never go for home runs. Whichever team signs Hosmer figures to sign him with the idea that they can tap into his offensive potential by getting him to hit the ball in the air more often. Hosmer is right smack in the prime of his career right now. It's not crazy to think more fly balls could turn him into an MVP caliber producer.
That said, will a team bet seven years and $20-plus million per season on Hosmer hitting more fly balls? Maybe! The Royals and Padres sure seem willing to do so. Or maybe they're happy with the player Hosmer is right now and wouldn't change anything because they value his clubhouse skills that highly.
. The questions now are whether any other teams will get involved, and whether agent Scott Boras can leverage the two offers against each other to get Hosmer an eighth guaranteed year.