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The Cardinals are exploring multiple options to help their lineup, including Eric Hosmer

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They’re upgrading one corner of the infield, but which one?

Arizona Diamondbacks v Kansas City Royals Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images

Hey, a rumor! Isn’t that fun. This offseason is painfully slow and even trade rumors have been hard to come by, nonetheless actual trades. But here one is, just in time to kick off 2018 by speculating about Eric Hosmer.

The rumor

The Cardinals, who have been on the fringes of the big names in this offseason market so far but haven’t made any huge signings or trades outside of the Marcell Ozuna deal, are reportedly interested in signing Eric Hosmer according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

Why it makes sense for Eric Hosmer

Because this offseason has been absurdly slow for all of the top free agents, and eventually he needs to find a long-term deal that works for him before he’s left to compromise and accept a less lucrative deal with a contender just to lock in a contract that is worth it. Otherwise, he’d be left risking getting stuck in a one-year deal and having to re-enter the free agent market in an even more competitive field a year from now.

The Cardinals can provide that multi-year deal, and they are certainly contenders based on the pitching upgrades they’ve made over the past few weeks. (They’re also always contenders at some level because they are the Cardinals and can make the playoffs with a hint of Magic Baseball Potion and crossing their fingers some years.) It would also mean Hosmer doesn’t have to leave the state of Missouri when switching teams, which is helpful with taxes and mail forwarding and such. Have to think of all the angles here.

Time might be running out for him to find a home that he finds suitable, since multiple teams have engaged in talks but then gone in different directions or prioritized other possible signings rather than brought him on board.

Why it makes sense for the Cardinals

They need either a new first baseman or a new man at third. They’ve already been connected to Manny Machado, who has made it clear he’d like to move to third, and might be available via trade before the offseason is over. But signing Machado is risky in that it might not be a viable long-term option if he just bolts to another team in free agency next year.

So in that way, Eric Hosmer is the safer option while also providing power and a steady presence at first. They can move Matt Carpenter to third base to platoon with Jedd Gyorko if necessary, leaving first wide open for Hosmer to make his own on a regular basis.

Of course, they also have their sights on Josh Donaldson for a trade-and-extend play, who might be a more attractive target that would leave Carpenter at first and remove the need for Hosmer at all. Depending on how any alleged talks with the Blue Jays are going, the Cardinals may end up having to decide between adding power to their lineup with a new first baseman or a hopefully long-term upgrade at third. Both is almost certainly not in the cards. If that’s the decision it comes down to, the crux of the choice will center around when they think either of these options will fall off in productivity over the length of a planned contract ... and whether the money on the table is worth that.

Rumor grade

B. Right now the Cardinals seem to be choosing between two long-term upgrades on either side of the diamond. Whether they go with the easier acquisition — giving Hosmer the money he wants — or the tougher play — giving up assets for Josh Donaldson and hoping he signs an extension later — seems like a toss up at this stage.

The offseason is going so slow (and going in circles at some points) that talks could start and stop on this rumor multiple times before anything gets done. A Hosmer to the Cardinals deal is reliant just as much on how other deals look to be progressing as it is on how much Hosmer fits with the organization.