But what else did we learn? Let’s get to the mailbag as the Royals enter the pre-Winter Meetings portion of the offseason. The music recommendation is M. Ward’s “To Go Home.” Happy Thanksgiving.
On to the questions.
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As we reported last week, the Royals remain determined to find a way to re-sign Eric Hosmer and make him part of what could be a three- to four-year rebuilding process. Just a guess here: But something like a seven-year deal would keep Hosmer in Kansas City until the Royals are theoretically positioned to contend again. Yet that doesn’t change the realities of the market. Kansas City officials have to hope things break just right. The Red Sox sign J.D. Martinez, the Yankees pass, and clubs that need a first baseman (like the Cardinals) don’t value Hosmer as much as the Royals do. In other words, they have to hope the market comes back to them in the same way it did with Alex Gordon. But to answer your question, here’s one guess:
27 percent: Eric Hosmer
21 percent: Free Agent
21 percent: Brandon Moss
21 percent: Cheslor Cuthbert/Hunter Dozier
10 percent: Other/younger prospect
To this point, the Royals have not signaled much interest in long-term extensions for Mike Moustakas or Lorenzo Cain. Things could change. But the reasons for this are different for each player.
Cain will be 32 in April and will likely sign a four-year deal worth at least $15 million per year in average annual value. That’s a slight guess. It could be a little more. Maybe some team feels forced to give a fifth year to win the bidding. The Royals are hesitant to commit significant dollars to another outfielder aging into his 30s, in part because the health of the organization and the pitching staff does not offer much hope for 2018 or 2019.
Cain has been the Royals’ best all-around player for the last four seasons. He likely could be their best player in 2018. But why pay a free-agent premium for an aging outfielder when his prime is not quite going to line up with your timeline to contend? At least, that’s the argument against it.
Moustakas’ case is slightly different. His market could possibly fluctuate, though it appears likely he’ll have enough suitors to command a high price. The Royals have internal options at third base, beginning with Cheslor Cuthbert. Those options likely won’t be as good as Moustakas in 2018. But some of the logic from the Cain situation pertains here.
How is Moustakas, 29, going to age? Will he see any decline as he gets into his 30s? If the Royals see their next window to be competitive or even contend beginning in 2020 or 2021, will Moustakas still be a valuable player and worth his price in free agency?
“When we assess our team, we’ve got to do it in the context of what we have on the horizon,” Moore said at the GM meetings, offering a few clues. “Who do we have that can possibly transition into the major leagues? And that’s going to dictate how aggressively we pursue certain free agents.”
For now, the most likely scenario includes the Royals pursuing Hosmer, and then embracing a full rebuild (and walking away from Moustakas and Cain) if they lose out.
To describe Dale Sveum as the manager in waiting might be a little strong. I do think he is positioned to be the internal option for a replacement if Yost walks away after the 2018 season. There could be other considerations, though.
In past interviews, Yost has indicated that the Royals have a possible successor in-house already. That could be Sveum. But a lot could happen in the time between this offseason and when Yost opts to walk away.
A disclaimer: This is mostly just an exercise to entertain the question — and maybe see how close I can get — because the opening day roster, for now, remains a mystery. There are a lot of possibilities. The Royals could sign some cheap veterans to fill holes in center and at first base toward the end of free agency. They could find some younger reclamation projects. They could just strip it down and go full rebuild, looking at young players from their own system.
It’s also possible they could look for ways to unload salary — Brandon Moss, Joakim Soria and Jason Hammel are all veterans entering the final years of contracts.
But at first glance, a projected lineup is somewhat clear:
Catcher: Salvador Perez
First base: Brandon Moss
Second base: Whit Merrifield
Shortstop: Raul Mondesi
Third base: Cheslor Cuthbert
Left field: Alex Gordon
Center field: Paulo Orlando
Right field: Jorge Bonifacio
Designated hitter: Jorge Soler
Younger prospects who could be in line for a look: Hunter Dozier, Bubba Starling, Donnie Dewees, Nicky Lopez, Ryan O’Hearn, Frank Schwindel.
You’d have to think so. Soler is under club control for three more seasons. The Royals still view him as a talented and potentially valuable piece. The question, especially if Brandon Moss is on the roster, is how do the Royals dole out time in right field and at DH? In a rebuild scenario, it’s hard to see the allowing Moss to block Bonifacio or Soler from playing every day.
That could be overly bullish — unless a handful of homegrown pitchers in the system takes significant steps across the next two seasons.
“You’ve Got Mail.”
If you take your question literally, “starting on opening day” is different than who plays most of the time in center next season. Injuries can play a role. So can timing. Somebody could go crazy during spring training. For instance: I don’t expect Alex Gordon to play a lot of center field next year. But maybe something strange happens and he’s slotted there on opening day. Here’s one guess on odds:
51 percent: Paulo Orlando
21 percent: A low-cost, short-term free agent (Somebody like Jon Jay, Jarrod Dyson or Cameron Maybin. And yes, this is just a listing of free-agent center fielders, not an indication of interest.)
13 percent: Billy Burns
6 percent: Alex Gordon
4 percent: Bubba Starling
2.5 percent: Lorenzo Cain
2.5 percent: Donnie Dewees
The short answer is yes. The longer answer is complicated. In the end, these decisions are deeply personal and are dependent on family, money, loyalty to the rest of the players’ association, winning, lifestyle, comfort and tons of other factors.
I thought Jason Vargas actually put it really well on the final day of the season: “”Everybody wants things to work out in the perfect fashion,” he said. “But they usually don’t. It’s like family getting broken up and having to go make their own way.”
Actually, yes. I haven’t spent much time in Orlando, but a couple of us found Punjab Kitchen in a strip mall in Kissimmee and it was very good.
Let’s not overthink it.
2. Mashed sweet potatoes
More specifically, any potatoes.
1. Jellied cranberry sauce
2. Most casseroles
Of all casseroles, green bean casserole is the best. But I’d prefer to save room for other things.