Meet Mr. Player to be Named Later.
With Elliot Johnson, the Royals and Rays have completed the December 9th trade that saw the Royals give up Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi (plus two others) for James Shields and Wade Davis.
Johnson, who will be 29 on opening day, is known more for his versatility on the field than his presence at the plate. Although he’s spent most of his time at shortstop (154 games), he’s logged time at second base (23), third base (7), left field (4), center field (2), right field (1), and first base (1).
A switch-hitter, Johnson took part in 123 games last season for Tampa Bay – managing a .242/.304/.350 slash with 10 doubles, 2 triples, 6 HR, and 33 RBI in 297 official ABs. He also managed to swipe 18 bases in 24 total chances.
In parts of three big league seasons (200 games), Johnson has managed a .223/.283/.338 line with 31 XBH (17 doubles, 4 triples, 10 HR) and 24 stolen bases. He has a career K:BB ratio of 3.79.
For his career, he is a much better batting left-handed (.252) than right-handed (.183), so a possible platoon with Chris Getz is out of the question.
Elliot would make a great utility-man for the Royals, as he has the ability to hold his own defensively at just about every position outside of pitcher and catcher. That, coupled with the the fact that he’s a switch-hitter who is a smart base runner, make him all the more valuable to a team short on impact role players.
To make room for Johnson on the 40-man roster, the team shifted starter Felipe Paulino to the 60-day DL. Paulino is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and will likely be out until after the All-Star break.
The Royals have announced that they have claimed catcher George Kottaras off of waivers from the Oakland A’s, who had designated him for assignment last week after the received catcher John Jaso from the Mariners as a part of the Michael Morse trade.
Kottaras, 29, played in 58 games last season for the Brewers before being dealt to Oakland in exchange for reliever Fautino De Los Santos. While with Oakland, he took part in 27 regular season games, as well as four playoff games.
He didn’t fare too well offensively last season, posting just a .211 batting average. But George does possess the ability to take a walk (.351 OBP in ’12) and has enough power to be a threat (36 doubles and 24 HR in 592 career AB).
In order to make room for Kottaras on the 40-man roster, the Royals opted to designate utility infielder Tony Abreu for assignment.
In 2012, Abreu hit .257/.284/.357 in 22 games; splitting time at second, third, short, and DH.
As it stands right now, Kottaras and Brett Hayes figure to be the primary options for backing up Salvador Perez, with Max Ramirez and Manny Pina figuring to get a few looks as well in spring training.
The Royals made very odd and thought provoking news when it was announced that they had reached an agreement with free agent and former AL MVP Miguel Tejada.
The deal, of the minor league variety, is worth $1.1 million and comes with up to $400K in bonuses. Although he isn’t on the 40-man roster yet, he will be as soon as a spot opens up.
“I’m very pleased with this. The contract with the Royals is a done deal. I’m going to try to help this team and their younger players. I’m so happy because this is what I was aiming for, a chance to get back to the majors.”
Tejada spent last season with the Orioles Triple-A affiliate. In 36 games, he hit .259/.325/.296 with 5 doubles and 18 RBI and got a majority of his defensive reps at third base. His last experience at the major league level came back in 2011 with the Giants. He managed to play in 91 games that season, but looked nothing like a former MVP or six-time All-Star. He managed to hit a meager .239/.270/.326 and split most of his defensive time between third base and shortstop.
At 38 years old, Miguel Tejada is instantly the oldest player within this organization at any level.
Dayton Moore has been saying that he has been looking for a backup shortstop this offseason who is more glove friendly at the position than Irving Falu and Tony Abreu. Is Miguel Tejada, a 38 year old former shortstop converted to third base because he’s gotten too slow for the position, the answer?
Being a career .285/.336/.457 hitter with 304 HR, 463 doubles, and 1282 RBI, I can’t find enough reason to believe, even at 38, that Miguel Tejada can’t hit at the major league level. I’m sure he could even fill-in a few times a week at second and third base and be at least adequate. But when it comes to being a glove-first shortstop, which is what GMDM said he was looking for to backup Escobar, Tejada has never been and never will be. This move smells an awful lot like the move the team pulled off last winter when they decided to bring back Yuniesky Betancourt on a one-year deal to serve as the “utility” guy.
Not only did Yuni bomb in the field, he became a clubhouse cancer due to his lack of time in the starting lineup. His bat had just enough pop in it to keep him playing every few days, while his defense was nothing short of extremely awful. He only filled in at shortstop once and third base for the Royals in 2012. He made an error.
Miguel Tejada is a great clubhouse guy with a lot of fun energey and brings a ton of experience to this team. He could even provide this team with some power off the bench. I’m not meaning to rag on this signing, as it could hold value. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense at the present time.
For now at least, Endy Chavez’s career has come full circle.
The Royals and veteran outfielder Endy Chavez have agreed to terms on a one-year minor league deal that assuredly comes with an invite to spring training.
Chavez, who will be 35 by the time next spring rolls around, made his major league debut with the Royals back in 2001.
A career .269/.309/.367 hitter across 11 seasons, Chavez is known more for his play in the field rather than his ability at the plate. He’s compiled a career WAR of 4.1 while playing significant time at each spot in the outfield.
He spent 2012 with the Baltimore Orioles, compiling a .203/.236/.278 slash line with 8 extra-base hits (6 doubles, 2 HR) in 64 games. He was mostly used as a late-inning defensive replacement, logging 213 innings in left field, 146 in right field, and 6 innings in center.
Since he’s a left-handed hitter, Chavez could possibly serve as a platoon-type partner with Jeff Francoeur in right field.
The Royals have made a habit this offseason of signing veteran players who seem to be in the twilight of their respective careers, signing Xavier Nady, Willy Taveras, George Sherrill, Dan Wheeler, and now Endy Chavez.
The Royals continued their “old” ways today by signing veteran journeyman Xavier Nady to a minor league contract.
Nady, now 34, has a career triple-slash of .270/.324/.432 across his 11 seasons at the big league level. Before joining Kansas City, Nady had played for eight different organizations: San Diego, both of the teams in New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago Cubs, Arizona, Washington, and San Francisco. The X-Man has accumulated more than 150 games of experience at three different positions (RF: 446, 1B: 186, LF: 156).
In 59 games this season (40 with Washington; 19 with San Francisco), he hit only .184/.253/.316 with 7 doubles, 4 homeruns, and 13 RBI.
Much like current right fielder Jeff Francoeur, Nady has been exceptional against left-handed pitcher. For his career, Xavier has a .284/.352/.441 line in 905 official ABs against southpaws.
Although the team hasn’t announed it yet, Nady’s deal likely includes an invitation to spring training. Given his positional flexibility and ability to hit left-handed pitching, he could get a long look come March.
It’s finally happened.
The Royals and Dayton Moore have done something drastic. Something bold. Something that borders on the edge of sanity.
And something that they absolutely had to do.
Last night, right around 10 pm CT, the Royals acquired starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis along with a player to be named or cash from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for uber-prospect and Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers, right-hander Jake Odorizzi, left-hander Mike Montgomery, and third baseman Patrick Leonard.
What the Royals get:
- James Shields RHP (age 30, 7 seasons, 87-73, 19 complete games, 3.89 ERA, 3.68 K/BB, 1.223 WHIP, 17 WAR)
- “Big Game” James has been the anchor of the Rays’ rotation throughout his seven years with the big league team. While many would not consider him an “ace”, Shields definitely has the track record to be the leader of nearly any big league pitching staff, as well as the numbers to back it up. Since his first full season back in 2007, he’s never pitched less than 200 innings (averaging 227 IP per season) and averages just under 200 K per season. He’s never spent any time on the DL, as his pitching motion is relatively natural and fluid for him. His fastball sits in the low-90s; but his changeup, thrown in the low 80s, is his one of the best in baseball. He also throws an above average cutter and a decent curveball. As it stands, the Royals currently have control of James for 2013 ($10.25 million) and 2014 ($12 million team option). He’s the type of pitcher that the Royals both covet and desperately need. In 2011, he finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting. In 2012, he was 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA and a 2.2 WAR. Over the past two seasons, only one pitcher has pitched more innings (477) than James Shields: Justin Verlander.
- Wade Davis RHP (age 27, 4 seasons, 28-22, 3.94 ERA, 2.04 K/BB, 1.315 WHIP, 2.0 WAR)
- Although he spent all of 2012 coming out of the bullpen, the Royals undoubtedly plan to use Wade Davis in the rotation. Before shifting to the
bullpen, Davis was 25-22 with a 4.22 ERA and finished 4th in the Rookie of the Year voting back in 2009. In 2012, he made 54 appearances out of the bullpen, spanning across 70.1 innings, ammassing a 2.43 ERA, a 3.00 K/BB ratio, and a 1.4 WAR. He throws a low-mid 90s fastball (both four-seam and two-seam) and a spike curveball, as well as a slider and changeup. The Royals will have control of Davis through 2017 (’13: $2.8 million; ’14: $4.8 million; ’15: $7 million team option; ’16: $8 million team option; ’17: $10 million team option).
- Although he spent all of 2012 coming out of the bullpen, the Royals undoubtedly plan to use Wade Davis in the rotation. Before shifting to the
- PTBNL or Cash
What the Rays get:
- Wil Myers OF
- Jake Odorizzi RHP
- Mike Montgomery LHP
- Patrick Leonard 3B
The Royals knew going into the offseason that, if they were going to acquire a top of the rotation starting pitcher, they were going to have to pay dearly for it. Afterall, one cannot acquire talent with out surrendering talent in return.
The Rays gained two of the top prospects in baseball in Myers and Odorizzi. Mike Montgomery’s well-documented struggles in 2011 and 2012 earned him a change of scenery. Patrick Leonard is a nice prospect, but the jury is still out on his potential.
Wil Myers will forever be remembered in Royals baseball lore as a ghost – only heard from but never seen in terms of the big league level. He’s the one that got away. He’s the one that said it’s not me, it’s you.
Jake Odorizzi will be remembered as “the key piece” in the Zack Greinke trade two years ago. A pitcher that proved himself in the minors, only to get two late-September starts for the Royals that left a lot to be desired. But, nonetheless, his comparisons to Zack Greinke will be enough for Royals fans to clammor about giving him up.
Mike Montgomery has struggled mightily over the past two seasons and has been basically given up on by the KC faithful.
Pat Leonard is still a relatively unknown prospect and is basically a throw-in by the Royals. He has some projectable power and will settle in at one of the four corner positions.
This trade signals that Dayton Moore and the Royals are looking for wins now.
The Royals are now at a time when the big league team needs to start producing wins on the field. Starting pitching has been this team’s Achilles heel for years. The Royals haven’t been to the playoffs since 1985.
27 years for those needing further perspective.
They’ve had one winning season this century.
Dayton Moore’s reputation and future with the Royals will be determined by this trade. It is undoubtedly the biggest and boldest move he’s made during his tenure here in Kansas City. He’s taking this risk knowing full well that it could flop.
But it also could be the push that this team needs to contend in the AL Central.
This is the type of move that Royals fans have been waiting for. Are they generally happy with the price they paid for a “non-ace” pitcher plus another capable starter? No. But that comes with this city’s love for unproven commodities. Kansas City baseball fans have fallen in love with “potential” and are personally hurt to see Wil Myers go.
But this is a move that was going to happen. The writing has been on the wall for the past two offseasons. This was the time to strike. It may be considered a reach by some. But only time will tell who won this trade.
The Royals are going all-in for 2013.
Dayton Moore has officially checked out of the Winter Meetings in Nashville and is on his way back to Kansas City. While nothing of major significance took place for the Royals, groundwork for free agents and trade partners have been laid out. The Royals checked in on R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Jon Lester, Derek Holland, Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Ryan Dempster, and probably another 20 names that we were never made aware of.
Aiming for Anibal
Zack Greinke is still a free agent, meaning that Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Ryan Dempster, and basically every other available starting pitcher with top-of-the-rotation potential are still free agents as well.
Anibal Sanchez has been the Royals’ top free agent target throughout the Winter Meetings, but they’ll need to act fast after Greinke starts the domino effect if they want him on board. Many of the teams outside of the Greinke market, along with whoever loses the Battle for Zack (either the Dodgers or Rangers), have Anibal Sanchez at the top of their wish list.
It’s safe to say, Anibal isn’t going to come cheap.
Historically, the Royals have generally had to overpay free agents in order for them to come to Kansas City (ex: Meche- 5 years, $55 million; Guillen- 3 years, $36 million). Suffice it to say, Sanchez, or any other top free agent for that matter, won’t be here unless the Royals practically outbid everyone else.
Cross your fingers.
The Price Isn’t Right… Yet
The Royals are no longer discussing R.A. Dickey-for-Wil Myers with the Mets. But they did engage in some dialogue with them about possibly dealing Wil Myers for LHP Jon Niese and RHP prospect Zack Wheeler. Outside of Dickey and Johan Santana, Niese and Wheeler are probably the two most coveted pitchers within the Mets organization. If they were strictly talking Myers for them straight-up, Dayton was likely laughed out of the room. But Myers-plus could be interesting.
The Royals other major trade front still lies in Tampa Bay. The Rays are said to be wanting Myers + prospects for starter James Shields, which the Royals balked at. Shields is dominant and would automatically become the Royals’ ace.
And the Rays know that.
For them, it makes sense to hold on to Shields until the free agent market pieces begin to fall into place. Whoever loses out on Greinke/Sanchez/Lohse could turn their eyes toward Tampa, turning regular talks into a free-for-all.
Keeping Tabs on Dempster
Even though he turned down the Royals 2-year, $26 million offer, the Royals are still keeping tabs on righty Ryan Dempster. Given his age (35), the Royals think a two-year deal for $13 million a year is more than sufficient.
Adding a third year to the deal would peak Dempster’s interest and could be enough to sign him, but it doesn’t make sense for the Royals to pay $13 million to a 38 year old pitcher with a declining skill-set.
Regardless, he’ll be worth keeping an eye on – especially after Zack Greinke is off the market.
Mega Trade Talks Cooling
All of yesterday seemed to be spent speculating on a four-team mega trade between the Rangers/Rays, Diamond backs, Indians, and Royals/Mariners, with the main focus being Arizona trading Justin Upton for a starting shortstop – possibly Asdrubal Cabrera or Elvis Andrus/Jurickson Profar.
As of now, with the Gaylord Opryhouse Hotel in Nashville nearing emptiness, talks have cooled.
The whole deal is shrouded in mystery. Were the Royals/Mariners/Rays actually included in talks? Was it all speculation?
The Rangers covet Justin Upton, and if they don’t re-up Josh Hamilton, he’s their guy. Deals are still on the table, but it isn’t for certain exactly which, or even how many, teams are involved.
Rule 5 Draft
Baseball’s Rule 5 Draft took place in Nashville this morning. The Royals didn’t lose any players in the major league portion, but lost five players in the minor league portion of the draft.
- Triple A Phase
- Padres: Diego Goris 3B, Federico Castandeda RHP
- Pirates: Ethan Hollingsworth RHP
- Phillies: Brendan Lafferty LHP
- Reds: Ryan Dennick LHP
The Royals opted to pass on all of their selections, as taking a player in the Major League Phase would have required them to open a spot on their already full 40-man roster. They would also have to keep said player on their 25-man roster for all of 2013 if they didn’t want to risk losing the player to their former team for $25,ooo. All players selected in the Major League Phase requires the selecting team to pay $50,000 to the team the player was previously on.
Happy Holland Days
The Texas Rangers are going all-out in their efforts to land free agent Zack Greinke.
In an effort to clear payroll and a spot in the starting rotation, they are fielding calls on left-hander Derek Holland.Only 26 years old, the Rangers signed him to a 5-year, $28 million extension this March, making him extremely valuable to both the Rangers and a potential trade partner. He wouldn’t command Wil Myers, but would have to bring top prospects like Jake Odorizzi or John Lamb back to Texas in return. In 2012, Holland went 12-7 in 27 starts with a 4.67 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP with a 7:3 K:BB ratio – good for a WAR of 1.7. The Brewers and Twins are also calling Texas GM Jon Daniels about the lefty.
Super Trade in the Works?
The Rangers are also trying desperately add Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton in exchange for a starting shortstop, but Texas is unwilling to surrender either one of Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, leading them to explore a mulit-team deal, in which the Royals are said to be included in. The other team said to be included is the Cleveland Indians, who are shopping shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and could be dealt to Arizona in this scenario.
Of course, all of this is barring whther or not Josh Hamilton re-signs with the Rangers. If Hamilton goes back to Texas, this deal is likely off the table.
Here’s how it could shake down as of right now:
- Rangers get: OF Justin Upton + other(s)
- Dbacks get: SS Asdrubal Cabrera + other(s)
- Indians get: RHP Trevor Bauer/LHP Tyler Skaggs + other(s)
- Royals get: LHP Derek Holland + other(s)
Is this deal likely to happen? Probably not. Trades like this generally fall apart due to the number of teams involved. The Royals would have to give up a number of prospects if everything goes through, being as they aren’t currently open to dealing an everyday player or Wil Myers in almost any trade.
There are other reports that the Rays are in on the deal with the Rangers making their way out of it. In that scenario, the Royals could wind-up with either James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson.
Royals, among others are in on Shaun Marcum. He had a 3.70 ERA last season for the Brewers, but was only able to make 21 starts before missing the rest of the season due to an elbow issue.
Free agent pitchers with elbow issues are likely going to sign incentive laden one-year deals. Given the fact that Marcum will be 31 by the time the 2013 season rolls around, the Royals could get him on the cheap if he really wants to pitch in Kansas City – which is his hometown incase you haven’t heard that before from everyone who writes about the Royals for the past six months.
Teams are wary of Marcum because his fastball velocity, which usually sits anywhere between 86-89 mph, has dipped down to around 81-83 mph. He underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2008, and there is the fear that he may require undergoing the procedure for a second time.
Let’s Stay in Touch
Although they likely won’t be able to afford either one of them, the Royals are reportedly keeping in touch with free agent RHPs Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse.
Both Sanchez and Loshe are seeking mulit-year deals in excess of $15 million per season. Until Zack Greinke decides where he wants to pitch for the next 5+ years, it’s unlikely that either Sanchez or Loshe sign a deal. Greinke is going to set the market for free agent starting pitchers this offseason and will likely drive up the price of many of the remaining available top starters.
The Royals are also keeping tabs on RHP Ryan Dempster. It’s been reported that they offered Dempster a two-year, $26 million contract last week, only to have Dempster turn it down because he’s looking for a three year deal. Right now, Dayton Moore is unwilling to give the extra year that Dempster is holding out for. The Brewers and Red Sox are also showing interest.
Not Even Close
That’s how former Royals closer Joakim Soria characterizes the Royals offer to him.
Incase you haven’t heard, Soria and the Texas Rangers have agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal.
Soria knows that the Royals have a great bullpen and acknowledges that the team has greater needs right now. He went on to thank the fans and organization for the six years he spent here.
Tuesday was a much-ado-about-nothing type of day for GMDM and the Royals. No moves were made, but talks with a number of GMs and agents are still ongoing.
No Deal For Dickey
R.A. Dickey‘s name is still flying around the trade rumor mill, with the Royals being one of the teams still in the mix. The Mets appear to be willing to part with the Cy Young award winner, but are asking for premium talent in return – like Wil Myers.
Don’t get me wrong, Dickey is a great guy and fine pitcher. 2012 was a career year and he was the ace of the Mets’ pitching staff. But the guy is 38. No general manager in their right mind (I’m assuming) would give up a player of Wil Myers’ caliber for two years of an aging starting pitcher who gets by on basically a trick pitch. Granted, knuckleballers typically pitch well into their 40s (Tim Wakefield, Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough, Tom Candiotti, etc.), and Dickey seems to have finally figured out how to get hitters to swing and miss. But Dickey will be in the final year of his deal in 2013 and will more than likely test the waters of free agency. So giving up six years of Wil Myers, who projects to be a 25-30 HR-type hitter that should supplant Jeff Francoeur in right field sooner rather than later, for one year of R.A. Dickey doesn’t make much, if any, sense.
Royals officials have since gone as far to say that they definitely will not involve Wil Myers in any deal for R.A. Dickey.
There is another rumor being floated around that the Royals countered the Met’s offer by requesting Dickey in exchange for Lorenzo Cain and Jake Odorizzi. Again, this is a rumor. No official reports have come out that I have seen confirming the offer, but it may be a fair deal for both sides.
Other teams with interest in acquiring Dickey are the Rangers, Dodgers, Red Sox, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, and Blue Jays.
Still in on Anibal?
The Royals are still in on starter Anibal Sanchez. It’s been said that Anibal is looking for a multi-year deal worth roughly $15-20 million annually and is considered to be well out of the David Glass’ price range. But the Royals are being noted as one of the more active teams during the Winter Meetings thus far.
Former A’s Pitcher Drawing More Interest
The Royals are also one of a handful of teams with serious interest in signing Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy will come considerably cheaper than Sanchez, as a one or two-year deal for him seems likely right now. He went 8-6 with a 3.24 ERA in 18 starts for the A’s last season before his season ended after he was struck in the head by a line drive – causing him to undergo successful brain surgery. Other teams in on McCarthy include the A’s, Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs, Twins, Diamondbacks, Angels, and Rangers.
In any case, if you have a Twitter account, you should definitely give him a follow.
In a live chat yesterday, Royals beat writer Bob Dutton mentioned that the Baltimore Orioles have mild interest in acquiring right fielder Jeff Francoeur. The Royals likely wouldn’t get much in return for Frenchy and would probably have to throw in a few million in order to make the deal fair.
As far as I’m concerned, no matter what the Royals get in return, Dayton Moore needs to pull the trigger on this one. Immediately.
Ned Yost wants the Royals to take a new approach at the plate next season.
“I think Salvador Perez can hit 20-25 homeruns. I think Hosmer can hit 30. Moose can hit 30. Gordy can hit 30. I think Cain can hit 20. I think eventualy Wil Myers can hit 30 homers. We’ve got guys who can do this. Billy Butler could hit 40 – he’s got that kind of pop. I want us to open up our offense a little more and start using the long ball to our advantage”. – manager Ned Yost
In short: More power (somewhere I can here Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor grunting…).
The main reason the Royals opted to part ways with former hitting coach Kevin Seitzer is that he preached that hitters to hit gap-to-gap and up the middle rather than swinging for the fences.
Enter Jack Maloof and Andre David. While both will be hitting coaches, Maloof will hold the official position while David will serve as an assistant. Both were previously hitting instructors within the Royals’ minor league system.
Yost went on to say, “I would rather strike out than hit the ball deep to the center field wall and have it caught – unless there’s a man on third base. I’d rather open up the offense a little bit. I’d rather start taking some good swipes at the ball and try to put the ball in the stands because I think we’ve got guys who can do it.”
The Recognition Continues
2012 was a banner year for Big Bill, as he was a first-time All-Star, a first-time Silver Slugger award winner for his role as the team’s DH, and was selected as the Royals’ player of the year for the third time. He also played in a career-high 161 games.
Blue Jays DH Edwin Encarnacion finished second in the balloting.
The only other Royal to win the award was Hal McRae, who did it three times (1976, 1980, 1982).
Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings, taking place this year in Nashville, is possibly the most exciting/frantic/nerve-racking four day period of the offseason. General managers, scouts, and agents alike will be calling, texting, and talking one another’s ear off in hopes of finding the right fit- to either make a trade or sign a free agent.
When it comes to the Royals and Dayton Moore, there are no questions as to what the Royals want, who they’re willing to part with, and how roughly how much money they have to make a deal happen. The Royals want relatively young, controllable, cost-effective starting pitching; are willing to listen to offers involving practically any player outside of Salvador Perez, and have a “soft cap” of around $70 million for 2013.
Starting pitching is going to set the price this winter, whether it be through the free agent or trade market. Zack Greinke is looking to become the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in baseball history, Anibal Sanchez is said to be looking for a multi-year contract worth roughly $15-20 million per year, Scott Feldman landed a one-year, $6 million deal, and two-years, $26 million wasn’t enough for the Royals to land Ryan Dempster (not yet, at least).
So who do the Royals deem worthy of pursuit?
So far, we’ve heard about the Royals interest in a few of the game’s better starting pitchers: James Shields (Rays), Jon Lester (Red Sox) and R.A. Dickey (Mets).
James Shields has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers in baseball over the past three or so seasons, but he’s owed $11 million in 2013 and has a $12 million team option for 2014. So barring an extension, he’d be hitting the free agent market after 2014. He also turns 32 later this month. In return, the Rays are looking for immediate offensive production and have been asking about top prospect Wil Myers and DH Billy Butler. The Rays are also said to be open to dealing Jeremy Hellickson in a potential deal and would listen on lefties David Price and Matt Moore.
Jon Lester, who is coming off a down season (9-14, 4.82 ERA), is in the same boat as Shields: he’ll be making roughly $12 million in 2013 and has a team option of $13 million for 2014 (which can be voided by Lester if he finishes first or second in Cy Young voting). He’ll be 29 in January. The Red Sox are in a transition period, where they intend to compete while restructruring their roster. Of course, they too would like to add Wil Myers’ bat to their lineup, but could use help at nearly every position outside of second base and center field.
R.A. Dickey, who is 38 years young, is coming off a career year where he went 20-6 with a 3.73 ERA en route to winning the NL Cy Young award. While R.A. would immediately become the Royals’ ace, he won’t be had for next to nothing. The Mets are likely trying to command a significant haul for Dickey. Given his age, they’re going to have a hard time doing so. The Mets are said to be looking for a catcher, outfielders, and bullpen arms. The Royals won’t dangle Perez, nor would they Wil Myers. I could see them building a deal around Aaron Crow + prospect help however.
The team is still reportedly interested in right-hander Bud Norris of the Astros. He’s young (27), controllable (first-time arbitration this offseason), relatively inexpensive, would not cost the team much in terms of big league talent, nor would he command a top prospect like Myers.
Other rumored trade partners are the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles. Both organizations are said to have serious interest in Billy Butler. The Mariners have the starting pitching depth (Jason Vargas, Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Beavan, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Danny Hultzen, Brandon Maurer) along with secondary players (possibly 2B Dustin Ackley or SS/2B Nick Franklin) to spin a deal for the 26-year old slugger. Outside The Orioles on the other hand don’t really have enough pitching depth that they would be able to pull from in order to land Butler.
I’m not high on trading Butler for prospects unless the Royals are able to land another starting pitcher – either through trade
In contrast, with Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, and Jeff Francoeur all officially on board for next season, the Dayton Moore will be looking to ship one or all of them in order to free up payroll. Hochevar is on schedule for around $4 million through arbitration, Chen is due $4.5 million this season, while Frenchy is due $7.5 million.
Finding takers for Hoch and Chen, although difficult, would presumably be easier to do than finding a taker for Frenchy. But if the Royals were able to move any of said contracts, it could severely impact their ability to attain starting pitching, allowing them to potentially go after free agents like Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Loshe, Ryan Dempster, or Edwin Jackson.
Other free agents the Royals are considering that possibly fall within their price range: Brandon McCarthy, Shaun Marcum, Jair Jurrjens, Brett Myers, Carlos Villanueva, and Jeff Karstens. None of the aforementioned pitchers would demand a large multi-year deal, which fits perfectly within the realm of what Dayton Moore is trying to do.
The Royals are also reportedly seeking a veteran infielder who can play shortstop. Apparently they don’t think current utility guys Tony Abreu and Irving Falu fit the bill defensively at short, going so far as to say that if Alcides Escobar were to miss significant playing time they’d likely promote either Christian Colon or Alex McClure from the minors to fill the position. Veterans free agents like Ronny Cedeno, Alex Gonzalez, and Ryan Theriot all profile for the role.
- Joakim Soria, who is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, has agreed to a two-year deal reportedly worth $8-9 million with the Texas Rangers. He’ll still be rehabing when Opening Day 2013 comes around, but when he comes back he’ll serve as the set-up man for closer Joe Nathan. The Angels, Red Sox, and Reds were also reportedly in on Soria.
- Mitch Maier has officially agreed to a minor-league contract with the Boston Red Sox.
- The Dodgers, Angels, and Rangers are said to the top contenders for the services of one Donald Zackary Greinke. Zack is said to possibly command as much as 7-years and $185 million on the open market. The Braves have been rumored to have interest in him as well.