Tom Verducci: If his market doesn’t develop, the Royals still have a shot at signing him as part of their rebuild to be the “face of the franchise,” which may be smart from a loyalty perspective but not from a baseball sense. But I like the fit with the Rockies, where he would give them one of the best infield defenses in baseball, leadership and a complementary bat in a deep lineup.
Jay Jaffe: Boston. From a positional and age standpoint, Hosmer makes far more sense for the Red Sox than Martinez. It's true that he's never had two good seasons in a row, which makes him a big risk, but the more favorable hitting environment of Fenway Park could help level off his production. He’s one of the best in the game at hitting the ball to the opposite field, which in this case means taking aim at the Green Monster. The metrics don't love his defense despite the four Gold Gloves, but I can see Dombrowski being more swayed by the hardware.
Stephanie Apstein: Even though Hosmer is a Scott Boras guy, I could see him staying in Kansas City. That has been a really good fit thus far and there are not too many holes at first base around the majors.
Jack Dickey: Does it really make sense to pay Eric Hosmer? These are the facts: over the last five seasons, 38 men have accumulated at least 1,500 plate appearances while playing most of their time at first base or DH. Hosmer ranks 17th among them in adjusted OPS+. His defense, touted as exemplary (four Gold Gloves), is considered well below average by advanced metrics. He may look the part of a complete baseball player more than, say, fellow free-agent first baseman Lucas Duda, but for his career Duda has 20 points of slugging on Hosmer with an essentially identical OBP. How much do those singles get you, really, relative to walks? Hosmer also hits too many ground balls—53.4 percent of the balls he has put in play for his career, according to Fangraphs. A return to Kansas City is rational if the smartest teams stay away.
Jon Tayler: The wave that was the Royals crested with the 2015 World Series and broke slowly but surely over the last two years as they flopped out of contention. And with Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain all hitting free agency at once, it’s hard to imagine the Royals coming anywhere near those heights any time soon unless they can keep at least one of that trio. Hosmer is a hard one to peg, with his underwhelming stats clashing against his superstar potential. At 28 and with at least a few All-Star years likely still ahead of him, the bidding will be fierce, but here’s betting that Hosmer will feel some sympathy for the only team he’s ever known and return to Kansas City to try to lead the next generation.
Gabriel Baumgaertner: This is the toughest free agency to peg out of them all. Hosmer's underwhelming power but high contact rates make him a great option in a deep lineup. He's not, however, a marquee option for a team that struggles to score. I'll guess that Hosmer returns to the Royals to help raise the new crop of prospects. If he wants to win another title, however, he should look to Colorado, which has a hole at first base in an otherwise terrifying lineup.
Connor Grossman: In this case I’ll take the bait on a small fish nabbing a relatively big one. Hosmer will sign a sizable deal with the Padres. Yes, the Padres. They hardly have any payroll commitments outside of first baseman Wil Meyers, who reportedly OK’d a move to the outfield if the team signs Hosmer. Despite losing 91 games, San Diego played better than most expected them to in 2017 and they just handed manager Andy Green a contract extension through the 2021 season.
Clearly the franchise is excited about the direction it’s headed. With the surprise emergence of teams like the 2015 Cubs and the 2017 Yankees, both of which blossomed sooner than expected, don’t be stunned if the Padres believe they’re next and take a chance on signing an expensive asset like Hosmer.