It’s beginning to look a lot like San Diego for Eric Hosmer.
Recent reports suggested that the Padres wanted to sign Hoz by Christmas. Didn’t happen, but when the Phillies signed Carlos Santana and Boston re-signed first baseman Mitch Moreland last week, San Diego became the best fit for Hosmer. His price may have dropped, too, from the crazy $200 million first floated by agent Scott Boras to a more realistic rumor of $120 million over six years.
It might even be Royals-level realistic. But the question must be asked: is he worth $20 million a year? That’s easy: no. Should we pay it anyway? What did Hoz really bring us in his seven seasons here?
He brought us great moments: graceful glove work, daring base-running, and clutch hits, including his 11th-inning homer in Game 2 of the 2015 WS. Most fans remember a lot of such moments. Hosmer is a good player, but not a great one. Let San Diego have him.
That’s a pretty unpopular stance, especially following Hosmer’s best year ever. And we all have a soft spot for his part in postseason excitement—sentimental fans don’t forget. If those fans get their Christmas wish, Hoz will drop down the chimney of 2018 with yet more gifts of silver and gold (he won a Silver Slugger and his fourth Gold Glove last season).
But look past the shiny objects. In 2017 his OPS+ was 132. That’s good, but not in the top 10 for MLB first basemen. And it’s an outlier: his career figure is 111, not even in the top 75 active players). He did walk more and strike out less last season, but he’s no Joey Votto—or, for that matter, Carlos Santana. Hosmer’s reputation in the field outstrips his actual performance: he’s average to below-average in two key metrics, Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved. And let’s not overstate his role in the Royals’ two big postseason runs, both defined more by pitching, speed, and superb defense than by Hosmer’s performance—or lack therof (he didn’t even hit his weight in postseason 2015 and fell off to .250 with little power in the previous year’s WS).
Don’t get me wrong. My memories of Eric Hosmer in the Royals’ glory days of this decade are as fond as anyone’s. But the front office should move on, using those millions to rebuild the pitching staff, re-sign both Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas, and shore up key positions. Start with first base.
Let’s drop Here Comes Santa Hoz from our holiday playlists and replace it with Auld Lang Syne.
Do you think sentiment plays into our desire to keep core Royals players around? Is our collective love for Eric Hosmer about his playing, or are we all just hopelessly softhearted when it comes to him? We’d love to hear your thoughts about our boys in blue. (It couldn’t hurt to have a little heated conversation to keep us all warm in the KC cold, right? Spring training awaits!)
Featured Image Courtesy of Eric Hosmer’s Instagram