Today may mark the dawning of a new era in Kansas City. In more ways than one.
The promotion of Eric Hosmer signals more than just the natural progression of a talented player to the highest level. The repercussions of the move will be many.
First, it likely signals the end of the Kila Ka’aihue experiment. Great a guy as he is, his window was very small. When he didn’t hit instantly, you knew his days were numbered. Kila will return to Omaha with nothing left to prove. He’s destroyed AAA pitching, and probably will again. But unless Hosmer flops, there is no way Kila will return. I would guess the Royals will try to deal Kila in order to give Clint Robinson all the at-bats at Omaha.
The move backs up Ned Yost’s recent comments regarding his lineup. He has said that a lineup can accommodate one or two negatives at the plate, if they are positives in the field. He was probably referring to Alcides Escobar and Matt Treanor. He was probably not giving such an exemption to Chris Getz, and certainly not to Kila.
In addition, Jason Kendall was bumped from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL. No surprise there. The message sent is that Kendall is older and more frail than the Royals wanted to admit.
And of enormous importance, the promotion starts the clock on Hosmer’s road to arbitration a year earlier than expected. Due to a complicated system that dictates when a player is eligible for arbitration and free agency, it has long been assumed that Hosmer would not be called up before the “Super Two” deadline in mid-June. Such a delay would have prolonged Hosmer’s obligation to the franchise.
Now the Royals will have to negotiate with Hosmer a year earlier than necessary. That move says two things quite loudly:
One, the team is more serious about winning this year than was previously believed.
And two, the Royals can probably be expected to try to negotiate with Hosmer well before his contract with the team expires, a la Evan Longoria and the Tampa Bay Rays.
By promoting Hosmer now, the Royals are also provoking some questions:
If they were willing to dump a weak link on the field and promote a prospect, are they willing to do the same with a pitcher? If you think Kila was bad, what about Kyle Davies and Luke Hochevar?
Would the team consider bringing up Mike Montgomery or Danny Duffy before the Super Two deadline in order to bolster the pitching staff?
It has been said that prospects may be more motivated when they see they will not be held back due to financial considerations. Have the Royals just sent a message to the farm system that big payoffs are available to prospects who can get promoted over lackluster veterans?
What may not seem like good business sense may just be that in the long run. By giving young players a chance to break into the bigs more quickly, and thus cashing in earlier, the Royals may actually finally cut some of the dead weight that has hung around the KC lockerroom. Veterans will know they must perform or they won’t be tolerated.
And the youngsters may get more hungry. And they might also feel some sense of loyalty to the club in the long run. The Royals may become known as a “player-friendly” club where guys want to play.
Best of luck to you, Hosmer. All eyes will be on you for the rest of the season.
We have seen youngsters with high expectations come up and struggle in the past. David DeJesus did. Mark Teahen did. Alex Gordon certainly did. I hope you don’t go through the same growing pains. But regardless of how you do, a strong message has already been sent.