The Kansas City Royals have a large group of free agents this offseason, including first baseman and face of the franchise in Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, center fielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar, starting pitcher Jason Vargas and reliever Mike Minor.
Hosmer, Moustakas and Cain are core members of the Royals teams that won the American League pennant in 2014 and the World Series in ’15. All three have received the $17.4-million qualifying offer by Kansas City last week, and unofficially the trio will not accept them. Instead, they’ll all seek multi-year deals as free agents.
Hosmer, Moustakas, Cain, should find much bigger deals on the open market, so it’s no surprise that the qualifying offers were not accepted. Should the trio sign elsewhere, the Royals will get the draft-pick compensation attached.
Since Kansas City is a team that received revenue sharing and the trio is expected to sign for more than 50 million, the club will receive compensation picks after the first round. This would obviously help the minor league system and help look to the future.
The players had until Thursday, November 16 to make their decisions official.
The Royals are trying to re-sign Hosmer and Moustakas, two of their big three free agents. But, according to reports, they are prepared to look at a future without them. They’re also realizing that they’ll not be able to keep the third in Cain.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore will meet with agent Scott Boras in Orlando and will try to retain Hosmer and Moustakas. Hosmer is the Royals’ top priority, but the Royals know it’s no slam dunk since he’s expected to get close to the biggest free-agent deal this winter, if not the biggest, and their revenues are in the second half among baseball’s 30 teams.
Hosmer, a team leader who’s spent his entire career with the Royals, had a career year in 2017. The 28-year-old hit .318/.385/.498 with a career-high-tying 25 home runs and 94 RBIs, winning the AL Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards at first base.
Moustakas, another career Royal is coming off his best season. Moustakas set the single-season franchise record with 38 homers in 2017 and the 29-year-old third baseman was named the Players Choice AL Comeback Player of the Year. He appeared in his first All-Star game this season as was the final vote of the fans.
Cain is also coming off a strong season, hitting .300/.363/.440 with 15 homers and 26 stolen bases while playing a stellar center field. His 15 out above average, according to Statcast, was fifth best of any outfielder in the major leagues in 2017.
Teams like the Rangers, Mariners, Giants and Dodgers could pursue Cain, with the Red Sox in on Hosmer. The Angels and Moustakas could be a good fit for both and balance the line up for Los Angeles, plus he’s a Southern California native.
Escobar, Vargas and Minor could be looking to sign elsewhere as well. However, they are not considered top-tier free agents and with Kansas City expected to cut payroll in 2018 their tenure with the organization appears to be over as well. Of the trio, only Vargas had a stellar season, making the All-Star team and posting a career high in wins with 18 and his 134 strikeouts were second highest of his career.
Out of the six players mentioned, Minor could be the only player to don a Royals uniform in 2018. Coming back from a three-year absence with an arm injury, he posted a 6-6 record pitching out of the bullpen, to go along with his six saves and ERA of 2.55. As a reliever, he could still fit in the organization’s budget, but is likely willing to test the market as well.