Prepare for Kansas City Royals Core to Split after 2017

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KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 28: Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on September 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

The 2018 Kansas City Royals will surely look different than the 2017 model. First baseman Eric Hosmer, shortstop Alcides Escobar, center fielder Lorenzo Cain, and third baseman Mike Moustakas are all set to hit the open market at the end of the season. The Kansas City Royals core may very well split up after 2017.

Prepare for Kansas City Royals Core to Split

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Royals are certainly doing their part to try and keep Eric Hosmer. Agent Scott Boras and the organization are discussing a contract extension, but Hosmer indicated that he’ll test free agency if no extension is agreed upon by Opening Day.

The Hosmer Quandary

At only 28 years old, Hosmer will be the most attractive first baseman on the market. Not only is his age enticing, but the three-time Gold Glove winner also has a 277/.335/.428 slash line, with 102 homers and 472 RBI in six seasons in the majors.

Other first basemen entering their age-28 seasons garnered high pay grades. Prince Fielder signed a nine-year, $214 million deal with the Detroit Tigers in 2012. Four months later, Joey Votto signed a 10-year, $225 million extension with the Cincinnati Reds. The Royals expect Hosmer to go after a 10-year deal, and other high-revenue clubs could be on the hunt for a first baseman next offseason.

The main problem with signing Hosmer to a long-term deal will be the length of contract. Under owner David Glass, the Royals finished last season with a $177 million payroll for their 40-man roster, the ninth-highest in the majors. With budgetary restrictions keeping his hands tied, general manager Dayton Moore traded Jarrod Dyson and Wade Davis before re-signing Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million extension.

Fitting the Free Agent Puzzle

This hints that the Royals front office was preparing for the eventual free agent dilemma that it’ll face after 2017. Unfortunately, four free agents still remain. It’s unlikely the Royals can keep the entire group intact. Cain put the chances at “slim to none”.

The Royals, held down by small-market realities and a meager television contract that runs through 2019, would likely feel apprehensive about such a long-term financial commitment. The Royals led the majors in local ratings the past two seasons, a noteworthy achievement. However, even if their television revenue is expected to grow in the future, its unlikely that it will be enough to keep the entire core together.

For the Love of Kansas City

Perhaps one positive thing fans should consider is that, thanks back-to-back World Series appearances and renewed excitement in the Royals, the players have also strengthened their connection with the community, something important that is often overlooked. Hosmer was quoted as saying:

“There is no better feeling than giving back to the organization, giving back to the community that kind of saw you as a young guy, a young prospect, and basically watched you develop into a professional and maybe even a veteran player.”

The friendship between a lot of these teammates runs deep. Hosmer and Moustakas arrived as the Royals first round picks in 2007 and 2008. Escobar and Cain came from the Milwaukee Brewers in a trade for Zack Greinke in 2010. These guys have reveled in success together. They have mourned together. They’ve been through it all, and fans feel like they have been with them every step of the way. Sadly, nothing lasts forever. Decisions will soon have to be made. Until then, let’s enjoy this last ride.

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