Eric Hosmer, the charismatic first baseman who became the face of a franchise revival, is no longer a Royal.
The San Diego Union Tribune reported late Saturday that the Padres reached an agreement with the free agent. Hosmer reportedly agreed to an eight-year, $144 million deal with an opt-out after five years.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore did not return a call from The Star on Saturday night. Manager Ned Yost addressed Hosmer's departure on Sunday morning at Royals camp.
“The emotions, for me, and for Dayton, too, I thought that going into the winter that there were just going to be teams that blow us away. Well, that didn’t develop. I was thinking 10 years, $200 (million) plus; well that didn’t happen. It boiled down to a two-team race,” Yost said. “It’s like, you always hope for the best. But you just don’t know what’s going to happen.
“He made his decision, and now we just move on. Did we want him back? Sure we did, 100 percent. We really did. We just felt that his legacy was going to be cemented in Kansas City. He’s loved there. But at the end of the day, he chose or got a better offer from San Diego. So we just move on. Just control what you can control.”
The departure of Hosmer represents the end of an era in Kansas City. In a decade with the organization, he was a cornerstone for a youth movement that produced two World Series appearances and the second world championship in franchise history. In 49 years of Royals baseball, few players have had a bigger impact.
Hosmer charmed Royals fans with his smile, defensive abilities and clutch hitting in the postseason. He picked up tabs for fans in the Power & Light District after historic postseason victories, spurred area kids to wear faux-hawks and became a front-facing member of the organization.
He was at first base during World Series runs in 2014 and 2015. He became a spokesman for the organization.
The departure of Hosmer also represents a significant loss. The Royals spent much of the offseason pursuing him. They offered a contract that was believed to be worth close to $140 million across seven years. Even as they embarked on a youth movement and a rebuilding project, they publicly announced that Hosmer was a priority.
Moore believed that Hosmer could become a model Royal and guide a young team through a rebuilding process. In the end, it appears that Hosmer chose San Diego, seizing on an additional year and more guaranteed money, electing to play for another organization in the midst of a rebuilding project, though perhaps closer to contention than Kansas City.
Hosmer hit .284 with 127 home runs and 566 RBIs over seven seasons with the Royals. The numbers do not quite describe his impact. Along with Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon and others, Hosmer ushered in a new era of baseball in Kansas City, reviving the sport in a city that had known losing for close to 30 years.
He was drafted with the No. 3 overall pick in 2008. He debuted at Kauffman Stadium in 2011. He weathered the ups and downs of rebuilding process. He forged a close relationships with Perez, his “hermanito” from Venezuela.
In 2014, his RBI triple in extra innings saved the Royals during the AL Wild Card game against the Oakland A’s. In 2015, his RBI double against the Toronto Blue Jays clinched a second-consecutive pennant. And then there was Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, when Hosmer sliced an RBI double to left field against Matt Harvey before sprinting home on a daring display of base running. A few innings later, the Royals were world champions.
By the end of the 2017 season, however, it appeared that the era was over. The Royals did not make the playoffs in 2016. They won just 80 games last season. Cain signed with the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this winter. And now Hosmer has agreed to a deal with the Padres. The Royals will rebuild without a franchise cornerstone.
The process continues in Kansas City.