It is a long shot, but could Eric Hosmer return to the Kansas City Royals and bring more prospects?
It is a long shot, but listen.
On July 26, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin reported that Eric Hosmer could be on the move. While it is odd for a contender and buyer like the San Diego Padres to trade anyone away, there are some interesting details surrounding the situation.
First, it is all about the money. If it was not an issue, Hosmer would certainly be staying put, either because he is not bad enough to DFA or no one wants to trade for him.
After the 2017 season, Hosmer signed a huge contract, a career-changing eight-year deal worth $144 million. Hosmer has certainly not lived up to his price tag. In summary, Hosmer has a 2021 WAR of -0.4 and only one year in San Digo where he posted a positive WAR. Not even breaking an even WAR is hardly where a big-money player should land.
The big contracts kept stacking up in San Diego, with the likes of Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Yu Darvish taking up much of the money. Each signing has eventually pushed the Padres over the competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold. Once a club crosses that threshold, there is a slew of punishments that will or can happen.
There are two that are worth noting. First, a team is taxed 20% what exceeds the $210 million. For example, a team with a $230 million payroll would have to pay $4 million. That percentage rises each year about that threshold, reaching a 50% tax at three or more consecutive seasons. Second, and most important, is a winding road.
Kansas City Royals: Should the Royals try to bring Eric Hosmer back to Kansas City?
Let’s say the Kansas City Royals extend Danny Duffy a qualifying offer and he turns it down this offseason. Then, Duffy signs with the Padres after they pay the luxury tax. If that scenario works out, the Padres lose their second and fifth-highest draft picks and loses $1 million from the international bonus pools. Both of those can hurt a franchise years down the road and should be avoided at all costs.
Which is where the cost comes in.
Padres beat writer Kevin Acee reported that the Padres are looking to facilitate a Hosmer trade with one of their top four prospects.
Dangling that carrot will certainly get some teams to bite. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that some teams are already out of contention, however. Hosmer currently has a “10 team no-trade clause”, listing the Athletics, Blue Jays, Brewers, Cardinals, Giants, Indians, Mariners, Orioles, Pirates, and Tigers.
While most of those teams would not want Hosmer anyways, it does make a deal harder.
This brings around the original question. Should the Kansas City Royals bite on Hosmer? If the Padres overpay to get his contract off the books, yes. Many teams should.
Hosmer has certainly been a disappointing player since leaving Kansas City, there is no doubt. But, if a return to Kauffman could jumpstart his career, that might make the deal worth it. Many readers might wonder how red-hot prospect Nicky Pratto fits into the picture, and that is a good point. If Hosmer came back, Pratto might not fit in right away. There is some shuffling that could happen.
While this is a headache, it will be worth it getting one or two top prospects from San Diego in return.
Whether it be #6 overall prospect Mackenzie Gore or #46 overall prospect Robert Hassell and one or two more pieces, the Royals should listen to the right offer. This is not a desperation trade, but one that allows Kansas City to gain more prospects while remaining in contention for 2022.