Should the Royals lock up Eric Hosmer now?

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Eric Hosmer has played exactly five games in the major leagues and has made exactly 22 plate appearances. And Sam Mellinger of the KC Star says the Royals should lock him up right now:

Five games into his big-league career and he’s already batting third and drawing comparisons to Joey Votto and Adrian Gonzalez. That’s all great. It’s the lines to Johnny Damon and Carlos Beltran that make Royals fans nervous, and the ones that are worth addressing this week.

In other words, the Royals should offer Hosmer a long-term and lucrative contract right now.

As he always does, Mellinger makes a compelling argument.  The key points: The Evan Longoria contract shows that you can get a good one signed young to a team-friendly deal. And that while Hosmer may be a Scott Boras client, as evidenced by the Carlos Gonzalez contract, Scott Boras isn’t the same Scott Boras today that he was a few years ago and may not be hellbent on taking everyone to free agency. Mellinger’s idea: try to split the difference between the Longria and Gonzalez contracts with Hosmer.

I wonder how much of the Gonzalez contract, however, was a function of Boras’ own evaluation of Gonzalez as less of a sure thing than a lot of young guys who break onto the scene. In other words, did his advice to Gonzalez to sign now represent an exception that he would not make in the case of Hosmer, who is much more highly touted than Gonzalez was at a similar point in his career?

What say you? If you’re the Royals, do you try to lock him up now or do you wait a bit, realizing that the guy won’t even be arbitration eligible until after the 2012 season, and maybe not even until after 2013?  If you’re Hosmer, do you consider it, realizing that, while guaranteed money is great, you did get a $6 million signing bonus a couple of years ago?

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.