For many Kansas City Royals fans, Joey Votto’s 12-year $251-million deal with the Cincinnati Reds was the worst news they had heard all spring. Fans speculated on Twitter that this would make Eric Hosmer worth at least $300 million in 4 years. Sam Mellinger wrote of how the Reds could afford such a deal, and yet the Kansas City Royals (with a slightly larger TV market) have put themselves in a position where they could not. For many the idea that Eric Hosmer is destined to leave Kansas City in 4-5 short years is just further proof that this team will never compete, the Kool Aid Drinker says not so fast.
Now it’s certainly possible that I am a little more optimistic about Hosmer’s prospects than most. I did predict he would break Steve Balboni’s HR record and win an MVP this season. While that may seem a little bit far-fetched, the odds of him doing both within in the next 4 years may be better than anyone that has ever put on a Royals uniform. If he does, the Royals have virtually no shot of locking him up long term, short of him giving the club one of the biggest hometown discounts ever. Who amongst us would fault him for not doing that? Who thinks the Royals should really lock up $250-$300 million in one player?
I’m sure a large percentage of Royals fans wonder how losing a player of this caliber could not be a complete disaster for a franchise, and to them I would suggest looking at the Texas Rangers after they lost Mark Teixeira. In 2007, the Rangers traded 1 ½ years of Tex for Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Jarros Saltamacchia. Andrus, Feliz and Harrison all contributed heavily to last year’s AL pennant winning club. Now sure, there’s no guarantee when trading for “prospects” that things will turn that well, but I’d like to think that Dayton Moore’s success in dealing Zack Greinke bodes well.
The Rangers had learned of the perils of a $200 million contract before anyone else thanks to Alex Rodriguez. The also had the foresight to see that a Scott Boras client of his caliber was going to test the free agent market and end up with a ridiculous contract. I’m sure at the time it was a terrible feeling for Rangers fans, but do you think the last two years have been?
While it may be depressing to think about, the fact is the Royals were probably never going to have Eric Hosmer for more than the 6 years that they are guaranteed, and that is not a complete disaster. Dayton Moore has set this club up to make a serious run over the next 4-5 years, and the nucleus is almost completely locked up over that time frame. Eric Hosmer looks to be one of those rare players that hits the ground running, and should only improve over that time frame. As Royals fans we should not be worried about Hosmer being so good that he becomes too expensive in 5 years, we should be hoping he does exactly that because it will most likely lead to our best chance at a World Championship in nearly 30 years.
For far too long we as Royals fans have had to manufacture reasons to get excited about this club as plan after plan failed miserably. Today, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas homered, our starting pitching shut down the Angels for a second consecutive day, and we fielded a lineup of (mostly) homegrown up-and-coming players that are virtually guaranteed to stay together and improve over the next 4 seasons. Our minor league system is second only to last year’s in the history of the franchise. We may very well be standing in line for what proves to be the greatest ride this club has ever given us. Let’s not start crying now about being sad that it’s over, it’s only just begun.