The Opener: Royals, Hosmer, Weaknesses


With 2023 officially underway, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:

1. Where can the Royals look for pitching?

Recently, Royals GM J.J. Picollo told reporters that the team is still interested in adding to their rotation, even following deals with righty Jordan Lyles and lefty Ryan Yarbrough. While a deal for another starter makes sense for the club, the best available arms, such as Pablo Lopez and Chris Sale, reside on the trade market at this point in the offseason. It seems unlikely that Kansas City would go to the level of prospect (in the case of Lopez) or financial (in the case of Sale) commitment necessary to land either of those arms, or any other top arm that could become available, for that matter. Given this reality, it seems the best option for Picollo’s front office would be scouring what’s left on the free agent market.

Few quality free agent starting pitchers remain, but a reunion with future Hall of Famer Zack Greinke might make the most sense if the Royals are going to continue adding pitching. Greinke was a stabilizing force in the Kansas City rotation in 2022, posting a solid 3.68 ERA over 137 innings. Failing a Greinke reunion, the Royals could look to take a flier on a pitcher with a solid track record who battled injuries in 2022, such as Wade Miley or former Royal Danny Duffy. Either pitcher comes with durability concerns, but Kansas City should have enough young depth to cover for those potentially missed innings.

2. Could a Hosmer deal be imminent?

Following the Red Sox decision to release Eric Hosmer, other clubs have expressed interest in adding the first baseman to their roster. In particular, the Cubs and Orioles have been connected to Hosmer since his release by Boston, with Jon Heyman of the New York Post describing the prospects of a deal between Hosmer and the Cubs, specifically, as “promising” in a tweet over the weekend. A Hosmer signing would allow the Cubs to give first base prospect Matt Mervis more time in the minors should he not win a big league job out of camp this spring. Hosmer can hold down first base at Wrigley until Mervis is ready and afterwards could act as an additional lefty bat in the DH mix for a team that saw only Ian Happ take regular at-bats from the left side in 2022. A deal with Hosmer could take the Cubs out of the market for the likes of Dominic Smith and Trey Mancini, to whom Chicago had previously been connected this offseason.

As for the Orioles, Hosmer would provide a veteran clubhouse presence to a young roster that exceeded expectations in 2023 on a league-minimum salary. He could share time with Ryan Mountcastle at first base while joining Kyle Stowers and Terrin Vavra in the mix for DH at bats. The Orioles are far from the only club who could be interested in Hosmer’s combination of veteran leadership and cheap acquisition cost, however, even in spite of his release by Boston.

3. Which teams have the biggest weaknesses left to address?

Yesterday, MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk took a look at how each AL and NL club has addressed their weakest positions in 2022 by bWAR, and a few weaknesses on contenders stick out as potential places the clubs could look to address headed into the next phase of the offseason. As has been mentioned in previous Openers, perhaps the most glaring needs remaining on teams looking to contend in 2022 are that of the Rangers and Braves in left field, where each club got negative contributions in terms of bWAR. Jurickson Profar is the last everyday player on the free agent market, but even a part time addition like David Peralta or Andrew McCutchen could improve either team’s production at the position.

Looking elsewhere around the league, the Rays have pursued a handful of potential upgrades at catcher throughout the offseason, but as of now are set to go into the season with Francisco Mejia and Christian Bethancourt as their tandem behind the plate. And a handful of catchers remain on the free agent market, however, so it’s possible the club could see a potential upgrade in a player like Jorge Alfaro or Gary Sanchez. By contrast, the Diamondbacks have made several additions to their weakest 2022 position, adding Miguel Castro and Scott McGough (among others) to their MLB-worst bullpen. Still, given the massive struggles of Arizona’s relief corps in 2022 (-4.4 bWAR), more additions could make sense, with former Diamondback Andrew Chafin leading the pack of relief options still on the market.

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