Red Sox Should Run Away From $100 Million Eric Hosmer Mistake

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2017

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 29: Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals runs to third during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Kauffman Stadium on September 29, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images) *** local caption *** Eric Hosmer
Brian Davidson/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox are going to make moves this winter.

Sure, they've won back-to-back American League East titles, but each time they've failed to advance past the division series. They already fired their manager, John Farrell. 

Now, expect executive Dave Dombrowski and his brain trust to be aggressive in the free-agent and trade markets.

On the free-agent side of the ledger, here's a name you're going to hear linked to Boston: Eric Hosmer.

In fact, it's already happening. According to FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman, "there is an expectation" the Sox will target Hosmer to fill the void at first base. That's not confirmation from the front office, but it's enough of a rumor to hang our hats on. And it's only early November.

On the surface, Hosmer makes sense for Boston. Scratch deeper, however, and the Red Sox should run away from a Hosmer signing—fast and far.

First, to stipulate: Boston needs an upgrade at first base.

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Mitch Moreland got the bulk of the starts last season and acquitted himself well enough, hitting 22 home runs with a .769 OPS. Moreland is also 32 years old and a free agent himself.

Hanley Ramirez made just 18 starts at first last year and is a designated hitter going forward (provided he can still hit). Rookie Sam Travis is intriguing but not a sure bet. Brock Holt is a versatile utility player, yet he's no one's idea of an everyday first baseman. 

Enter Hosmer, who turned 28 in October and posted career highs in average (.318), hits (192) and OPS (.882), and tied a career high with 25 homers in his contract year with the Kansas City Royals.

That's the profile of a guy any team with a need at the position would covet, right? It depends on the price tag.

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

The Royals, Heyman reported, could be willing to offer Hosmer a $100 million pact to remain in K.C. It would be a bold move by general manager Dayton Moore to keep a popular franchise figure in town, and Boston should step aside and let him make it.

An unnamed National League executive said he expects Hosmer's agent—the infamous Scott Boras—to seek eight years and $200 million for his client, per Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star

A nine-figure contract for Hosmer would hamper Boston's ability to upgrade in other areas, including the starting rotation. And it's possible Hosmer's 2017 stat line was more an anomaly and less a harbinger of things to come.

Hosmer was an All-Star in 2016, but he also struck out a career-topping 132 times and posted a respectable but less-robust .761 OPS.

Prior to that, he'd never hit as many as 20 home runs in five full big league seasons. In 2014, even as the Royals won the pennant, he hit just nine.

The Red Sox are looking for thump after hitting the fewest home runs in the American League last season and the 27th fewest in baseball, ahead of only the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants. Hosmer isn't guaranteed to provide it. 

The projection systems aren't bullish. Steamer foretells a .288/.358/.480 slash line with a scant eight home runs, per FanGraphs. Even if you think that's pessimistic—and it is—it shows where the low bar is set.

Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Hosmer is reportedly a great clubhouse presence and a natural leader. Those intangibles count for something. Maybe he could speed up the timetable of Boston's talented young offensive core. 

"What does he mean to a franchise? Well, he means a lot," Moore said in a recent interview with 610 Sports. "I don't know if you can measure that."

Intangibles don't hit the ball over the fence, however, and they aren't worth crippling the budget.

Instead of throwing gobs of cash at Hosmer, the Red Sox should sign a less-expensive player such as Carlos Santana, who has averaged 24 homers a season over the past seven years, owns a solid .365 career on-base percentage and who posted 10 defensive runs saved at first base for the Cleveland Indians in 2017.

Santana is three-and-a-half years older than Hosmer and will likely command far fewer years and dollars. Other options include Logan Morrison, Yonder Alonso and Lucas Duda, all of whom have pop but wouldn't bust the bank.

The Red Sox are going to make moves this winter. They have to if they want to fend off the ascendant New York Yankees for AL East supremacy.

When it comes to Hosmer, however, Boston should move away.


All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.

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