The Royals knew this day was coming. Four of the everyday players from their 2014-15 AL champ/World Series championship team — Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas — are free agents, and all but Escobar were made qualifying offers that will be rejected by the players.

Royals GM Dayton Moore has indicated he would like to try to keep at least one of the core guys, and the player Kansas City would prefer to retain is Hosmer, not just a high-level performer but a leader and face of the team.

But Moore recognizes even with Hosmer, the Royals are almost certainly facing a few lean years of rebuilding again without either a strong 25-man roster projected for next year or a deep farm system. Thus, it would only make sense to retain Hosmer if he would sign a six- or seven-year deal so he serves as a mentor through the tough times and still is close to his prime afterward.

Hosmer is just 28, but there is a lot of risk to believe he still will offer enough impact when Kansas City is good enough — and that is even believing the Royals could come up with enough money to retain a star-level Scott Boras client, which is unlikely.

“We do have to ask ourselves if this makes sense,” Moore said. “When we were successful, we had a balanced team, and can we have a balanced team if [so much is spent on Hosmer]? We are asking ourselves that.”

Moore was the Braves’ priority to become their next GM, but Royals owner David Glass would not give permission for him to interview for a position that instead went to Alex Anthopoulos.

“I was intrigued [by the job], but I am really happy in Kansas City,” Moore said. “I love the community. I was born in Kansas. My family has roots now in the area. Mr. Glass has been great to me. He stayed with us [when the team was struggling] for a long time. He is great to work for.”