Category: Musings!

Winter Meetings Recap: Day Four

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 WheelerJames 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

James Shields

James Shields

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.

Winter Meetings Recap: Day Three

Happy Holland Days

Derek Holland

Derek Holland

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.

Thinking Local

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

Anibal Sanchez

Anibal Sanchez

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.

Winter Meetings Recap: Day Two

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.

Who Knew?

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.

Power Ball

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).

Winter Meetings Recap: Day One

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?

R.A. Dickey

R.A. Dickey

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.

Utility Depth

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.

Former Royals

  • 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.

Baseball America’s Top 10 Royals Prospects

It’s that time of year again.

It’s the time where Royals fans can forget about whose on the team right now and look ahead to the future. Because, y’know, we don’t do enough of that around here.

Baseball America, as part of it’s annual rankings, has released it’s list of the Royals’ top 10 prospects for the 2013 season. There’s no doubt in my mind that you will be very familiar with most of the names they included, while others may require a little clarification.

Wil Myers

1. Wil Myers OF age 21

Wil Myers just may be the top prospect in the game. If not, then he’s certainly in the discussion. We’ve done plenty of Wil Myers coverage here at Royal Blues, and I’m sure you have all heard about his unreal 2012 season that ended with him not getting a call up to Kansas City. Dayton Moore may have kept Myers down in Omaha to delay his service time. If that is the case, barring something major happening in the coming months, Wil could remain in Omaha come Opening Day 2013 for the first 30 or so games. After that, right field should be his if it isn’t already. All this being said, I expect Dayton’s man-crush on Jeff Francoeur to start in right to begin next season. But expect to see Wil in Royals’ blue sometime next season.

2. Kyle Zimmer RHP age 21

Kyle Zimmer

Before having surgery after the season to remove “loose bodies” in his right elbow, the Royals’ no. 1 draft pick was fairly impressive. In 9 starts (3 in Rookie Ball, 6 in Low-A), Zimmer was 3-3 with a 2.03 ERA and 42 K to 8 BB in 40 innings pitched. His fastball clocks in anywhere routinely between 92-98 mph, while his hard-biting curveball is rated as the organization’s best by Baseball America. He also throws a decent slider and is developing a solid change-up to add to his repertoire. Kyle has the makings of a pitcher who could advance through the Royals’ system quickly and could be in AA NW Arkansas (or possibly AAA Omaha) by next season’s end. He should develop into a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.

3. Bubba Starling OF age 20

Bubba Starling

It’s too bad Bubba isn’t knocking on the door to Kansas City yet like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper did in 2012. But Mr. Starling is still in need of work in the minors thanks to his limited baseball past. Regardless, he had a good showing in his first season in the Rookie league. In 200 AB, he worked a slash of .275/.371/.485, hit 20 XBH (8 doubles, 2 triples, 10 HR), 33 RBI and had 10 SB in 11 attempts. However, he struck out 70 times in his 200 AB, which will need to be addressed this offseason. Starling is still a fairly raw player, but his combination of power, speed, and major league-ready defense will allow the Royals to overlook some of his short-comings. It’ll still be a while before Bubba makes his way to The K, as it looks like he’ll begin the 2013 season in Low-A ball.

4. Yordano Ventura RHP age 21

Yordano Ventura

“Lil’ Pedro” came on in a big way last season, earning him a spot on the World Team in the Future’s Game, as well as a promotion to AA NW Arkansas. At 5’11” and 140 lbs, Ventura is able to dial-up his fastball (rated by BA as the organization’s best) to triple digits at times, but normally lobs it in the 94-97 mph range. He also throws a hard-breaking curveball that he routinely uses to get hitters to chase when he’s ahead in the count. His change-up is still developing, but he just needs to use it more often for it to be effective. It’s still a question as to whether his height will translate well to being a successful starting pitcher in the major leagues. Ventura likely will start 2013 in NW Arkansas before being promoted to Omaha and possibly Kansas City before season’s end.

5. Jake Odorizzi RHPage 22

Jake Odorizzi

Thank goodness Jake Odorizzi’s strong season allowed us to slightly overlook Mike Montgomery and Chris Dwyer’s stinkers. Seen as they key to the Zack Greinke trade, Izzy saw his 2012 season end in Kansas City. While not overpowering, he’s able to deliver all four of his pitches well, while none of them standout more than the others. His low-to-mid 90s fastball has some sink to it, making it probably his best pitch. He has a smooth, repeatable delivery, but needs to improve on his command to make it all come together. He’ll get a chance in spring training to earn a spot in the rotation. Even if he doesn’t do so, don’t expect him to stay in Omaha for long.

6. Jorge Bonifacio OF age 19

Jorge Bonifacio

At 19, Jorge Bonifacio is already showing signs of becoming a high-average hitter with exceptional power potential and plate awareness. In 2012, while playing in Low A ball, Bonifacio owned a slash of .282/.336/.482 while knocking 36 XBH (20 doubles, 6 triples, 10 HR). To go with his projectable bat is a terrific arm that suits him perfectly to become a future corner outfielder, particulary in RF given his average to below-average speed. If he continues to develop along the same line, he projects as a hitter likened to Billy Butler: hitting for average, both pull and opposite field power, while driving balls deep to both gaps. Class A Wilmington is where he’ll start 2013.

Adalberto Mondesi

7. Adalberto Mondesi SS age 17

Mondesi is already displaying skills that are well beyond his age. The Royals signed the son of former big leaguer Raul Mondesi in 2011 at the ripe age of 16. In 2012, the switch-hitting SS hit .290/.346/.386 in 207 AB for Rookie level Idaho Falls. He also drove in 30 runs and swiped 11 bases in 13 attempts. He’s already developing as a quality hitter, showing that he can drive pitches to deep into gaps and hit for some pop (3 HR in 47 games). His greatest assest though may be his smooth skillset in the field. He has a great glove, soft hands, and shows the ability to get to plenty of balls in the hole that most other shortstops at his age simply can’t reach. He did have 23 errors last season, but those numbers should go down with time. Given his youth, his ceiling remains very high. He could be in Low A ball to start 2013, making him the youngest player in the league.

8. Sam Selman LHP age 22

Sal Selman

Selman was the Royals’ 2nd round pick in this summer’s draft, and like Zimmer, had a stellar debut in 2012. Sam went 5-4 in 13 games (12 starts) with a 2.09 ERA, 89 K, and a .199 AVG against in 60 innings pitched. He has developed into a real “power lefty”, as he’s able to get his fastball up to 98 on occasion. He also throws an above-average slider, giving him two plus-pitches. He’ll start his first full season of pro ball in one of the Royals’ A-level affiliates. Given his background as a college pitcher, Selman likely could progress through the system quickly.

9. Orlando Calixte SS age 20

Orlando Calixte

Orlando Calixte had a great second half in 2012 after being promoted to High-A Wilmington, where he hit .281/.326/.426. He possesses an above-average bat for his position, both average and power-wise, and is a terrific defender with a strong arm. Of the organization’s handful of talented shortstop prospects, Calixte is the closest to being big league ready. AA NW Arkansas is where he’ll start 2013, but could push for a promotion to Omaha quickly.

10. Jason Adam RHP age 21

Jason Adam

Despite his 7-12 record in 27 starts at High-A Wilmington this season, Adam still managed to post a 3.53 ERA. He also recorded 123 K to just 36 BB in 158 IP and held opponents to a .238 AVG while averaging around 6 innings per start. Jason has average big league fastball velocity (90-92). Scouts believe he’s lost some velocity due to his new and much simpler delivery. But on the other hand, his new approach on the mound has allowed him to command his pitches better by limiting the hip turn and high leg kick of his old delivery. He still needs to develop solid second and third pitches (curveball and changeup), though he controls them well. Right now, Adam looks like anywhere from a no. 3-5 starter to most. He’ll pitch in NW Arkansas to begin 2013.

Notable Ommissions:

  • Mike Montgomery LHP
  • John Lamb LHP
  • Chris Dwyer LHP
  • Noel Arguelles LHP
  • Christian Colon SS/2B
  • Cheslor Cuthbert 3B
  • Brett Eibner OF

Royal Blues Prospect Watch List:

  • Kyle Smith RHP
  • Justin Marks LHP
  • Elier Hernandez OF
  • Bryan Brickhouse RHP
  • Sugar Ray Marimon RHP
  • Cameron Gallagher C
  • Lane Adams OF
  • Humbero Arteaga SS
  • Alexis Rivera OF
  • Jack Lopez SS
  • Patrick Leonard 3B/OF
  • Colin Rodgers LHP

Royals Going the Way of a Potential Blockbuster?

First off, don’t buy into this at all.

Not right now, at least.

This is what happens when the first blockbuster deal of the offseason takes place. The trade happens, and then boom – every team looking for roster help/salary relief is looking to spin a major multi-player deal.

Billy Butler

But this idea may actually have some merit.

In an article by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Ken states that rival execuitves believe the Royals have a line of suitors if and when they’re ready to pull the trigger on a potential trade.

Dayton Moore’s contract expires after the 2014 season. Now although he likely is far, far away from being on the dreaded hot seat, we’re entering year seven of “The Process”. There is no doubt that this organization is in tremendously better shape than when he took over in 2006. The farm system has bascially completed a worst-to-first turn around and his aggressive draft approach is beginning to bear fruit at the big league level. But his trade history has been disastrous and his prized free-agent acquisitions (Gil Meche, Jose Guillen) haven’t panned out like the team has wished. On the other hand, he has shown a legitimate knack for signing low-cost, high-reward free agents (Rick Ankiel, Kyle Farnsworth, Scott Podsednik, Jonathan Broxton) who he has been able to flip for multiple parts (Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur being the most notable exceptions).

The time for Dayton’s work in the office to translate into wins on the field is here, and his window could be closing – albeit it slowly.

Rosenthal notes that the Seattle Mariners “covet” DH/1B Billy Butler. The Mariners possess one of baseball’s top collections of minor league starting pitchers: RHPs Taijuan Walker (age 20, AA) and LHPs Danny Hultzen (age 22, AAA) and James Paxton (age 24, AA) – the latter of whom the Royals have been reportedly scouting in the Arizona Fall League. Prior to the 2012 season, Baseball America cited all three of them within the Mariners top 10 organizational prospects (1. Walker; 3. Hultzen; 4. Paxton).

Billy is coming off a season where he had a career high in homeruns and RBI and has been the Royals’ most consistent offensive performer since his arrival back in 2007. If the Royals were to surrender Butler in a deal, it has to work out. Eric Hosmer suffered through a miserable sophomore slump. Alex Gordon got off to a terrible start before finishing strong. Mike Moustakas had streaks of greatness to go along with numerous cold streaks. Salvador Perez, though impressive, has yet to show he can hit at a high level for an entire season. Lorenzo Cain showed flashes of pull-power but couldn’t manage to stay healthy. Alcides Escobar could be a reliable no.2 hitter. Jeff Francoeur is inept and may be out of a job. Will Myers is unproven. And whoever takes the second base job will likely hit in the bottom-third of the order. All in all, giving up Butler creates some real instability in a lineup that, for the most part, has a lot to prove in 2013. But the DH position can be filled with low-cost platoon options like the A’s (platoon of Johnny Gomes and Seth Smith) and Yankees did (Raul Ibanez, Alex Rodriguez, Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones).

But is acquiring unproven starting pitching really in the best interest of the Royals? Afterall, the organization is full of young pitching talent that has yet to see anything above Triple-A level talent. If the Royals were going to deal Big Bill to the M’s, they would have to acquire someone along the lines of Jason Vargas in the deal – clearly not a centerpiece player to any deal involving Billy Butler, but would definitely help the team for 2013 and beyond – along with at least one of their top, big league ready pitching prospects.

Wil Myers

In other rumors, the Tampa Bay Rays really like OF Wil Myers.

Shocked?

Although I am no proponent for it, trading Wil Myers+other prospects would definitely land the top-of-the-rotation guy the Royals are looking for. And the Rays definitely have a number of arms the could be open to dealing. Names like James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, and even 2012 Cy Young award winner David Price have been mentioned before when it comes to potential trades with the Royals.

In my mind, if the Rays offer you any one of these names in a potential deal, no matter who you have to give up outside of Sal Perez, you make the deal.

Absolutely. 100%.

Corner outfielders can be replaced, but finding a dependable top of the line starting pitcher is like winning the lottery. On your birthday.

Don’t get me wrong. Wil Myers may be the best hitter to come out of the Hosmer/Moustakas/Myers trio. But if you have the chance to land any one of these guys, Dayton Moore is obligated to pull the trigger. Ask anyone around baseball and they’ll tell you that all the Royals need to compete in the AL Central is competent starting pitching.

Ken also notes that the Astros could be a potential trade partner for the Royals when it comes to starting pitching, noting that they could possibly be willing to part with either Bud Norris or Lucas Harrell. On their end, the Royals would likely have to give up a few prospects, but nothing of great significance.

Out of these three scenarios, I would personally like to see a deal with the Rays happen. The Royals would have to give up their uber-prospect in Myers, but you can’t put a price on quality starting pitching. The small market Rays are in a very unique situation: they have four potential no. 1 starters in their rotation whose salaries will increase as they years go by, top prospects in Chris Archer and Alex Cobb waiting in the wings should a spot open up, and a sever lack of impact hitters outside of Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist.

Say the Royals part with Myers + Giavotella/Colon + pitching prospect for any one of Price, Hellickson, Moore, or Shields (preferably in that order), do you think that would be enough to get a deal done?

Arms the Royals Could and Should Pursue

The Royals need to acquire starting pitching this offseason. This is fact, not opinion. The mantra this season, as we have watched Luke Hochevar and Jonathan Sanchez get torched on the mound, is that the Royals will need to acquire two quality starting pitchers this offseason in order for this team to take the next step. For a complete list of 2013’s free agent class thus far, click here. From that list, I’ve compiled a list of who I think the Royals definitely should go after and those who they might consider.

Definitely:

Jeremy Guthrie

  • Jeremy Guthrie RHP (age 34, $8.2 million, career: 9 years, 54-77, 4.28 ERA, 5.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.309 WHIP, 15.7 WAR): Re-signing Guthrie has to priority no. 1 or 1a for Dayton Moore this offseason. He has been undoubtedly the team’s most consistent starter this season, going 4-3 with a 3.00 ERA, a 1.103 WHIP, and 5.8 K/9 to just 1.6 BB/9 while averaging 6 2/3 innings per start. He’s no ace, but this organization needs consistency from a pitcher who eats innings and always gives them a chance to win. Not to mention, Guthrie has said on more than one occasion that he could see himself with this team going forward. Given his age and track record, a two-year, $14-$18 million deal seems logical.
  • Zack Greinke RHP (age 28, $13.5 million, career: 9 years, 90-78, 3.77 ERA, 8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 1.246 WHIP, 29.4 WAR): Zack is a guy, almost no matter who else you have in your rotation, that every team has to pursue. He’s young, dominant, and consistant. His clubhouse manner could stand some improvement, but by now I wouldn’t expect it to change. Greinke is a small-market type of guy and still owns his apartment in downtown KC. Is a Greinke-Royals reunion possible? Yes. Likely? Probably not. But he’s the cream of the crop this offseason, so the Royals have to at least entertain the thought. He’ll likely be seeking a contract that exceeds $100 million; so unless David Glass ponies up, consider this a pipe dream.
  • Shaun Marcum RHP (age 31, $7.72 million, career: 7 years, 55-36, 3.79 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.225 WHIP, 12.8 WAR): Marcum is a legitimate target for the Royals this offseason. The Excelsior Springs native has been consistent throughout his 7 year career with both Toronto and Milwaukee but has stayed well under the radar as far as popularity goes. He won’t blow anybody with his fastball, which sits somewhere between 86-90 mph, but it’s his ability to locate his six different pitches, as well as his 3/4 to almost sidearm throwing slot, that allows him to be successful (four-seamer, two-seamer, cutter, changeup, slider, curve). A contract in the neighborhood of 4-5 years for $60-$75 million could and should get a deal done.

    Shaun Marcum

  • Anibal Sanchez RHP (age 28, $8 million, career: 7 years, 47-51, 3.81 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.357 WHIP, 13.3 WAR): Anibal Sanchez is one of those guys who could fall anywhere between the borderline number one to a dependable number three. His low-to-mid 90’s fastball sets up his sinker-slider combo well, allowing him to be equally effective aginst both right and left-handed hitters. On top of that, he’s averaged exactly 6 innings per start throughout his career (142 starts, 853.2 IP). He was dealt to Detroit at the trade deadline this season and has been knocked around a bit by AL lineups (10 starts: 3-6, 4.55 ERA, 1.416 WHIP leading me to believe that he may be better suited for the National League. Regardless, he’s an attractive option for GMDM to consider. He’s likely headed for a 5-7 year deal between $80-100 million.
  • Brandon McCarthy RHP (age 29, $4.275 million, career: 7 years, 37-39, 4.02 ERA, 6.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.284 WHIP, 8.4 WAR): Brandon McCarthy seems to have figured out what works during his time in Oakland. During his two seasons with the A’s, he’s 17-15 in 43 starts with a 3.29 ERA, 6.3 K/9 to just 1.6 BB/9. He utilizes his two-seamer and cutter to induce more groundballs, in turn lowering his homerun percentage and walk rates. He does come with injury concern, however. He’s had a stress frature in his right shoulder blade back in 2007 and elbow inflammation in 2008 – the latter causing him to miss nearly all of the 2008 season. To add insult to injury (pun intended), McCarthy took a line drive to the head earlier this month which fractured his skull. He’s recovering well, but definitely will not pitch again this season. Despite his injuries, McCarthy has found his natural rhythm on the mound and is capable of being a solid no. 2 to no. 3 man in a rotation. He’ll likely demand 5 years and somewhere between $55-60 million. He possibly could command something similar to what CJ Wilson got last season (5 yr, $77.5 million).
  • Edwin Jackson RHP (age 29, $11 million, career: 10 years, 69-70, 4.36 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.433 WHIP, 12.1 WAR): The Royals were “in” on Jackson last winter before he decided to take his talents to D.C. on a one-year, $11 million deal – which the Royals were clearly unable to match. Up until the past few seasons, he was one of those guys who was described as “a thrower, not a pitcher”, which has lead him to bounce around from team to team. He debuted with the Dodgers in 2003, was traded to the then Devil Rays in 2006, who then dealt him to the Tigers following the 2008 season. A year later, Jackson was shipped to the Diamondbacks as part of the Curtis Granderson-Austin Jackson deal. He threw a no-hitter with the D-Backs, even though he walked 8 and hit one that game. Near the trade deadline of 2010, the Diamondbacks sent him to the White Sox. On July 27th 2011, Jackson was traded twice – first to the Blue Jays, who then shipped him to the Cardinals. After declining arbitration from St. Louis, he became a free agent. Cue the Nationals, and here we are. Since being traded to Chicago in mid-2010, a light has turned on for E-Jax – he’s 25-21 with a 3.69 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. His four-seamer and two-seamer sit around 95-96 mph on average; he also throws a hard-biting slider, a changeup, and a curve in the upper 70’s. Given he’s making $11 million this season, he’ll most likely be looking for something in the $12-15 million range on a 4-6 year deal.

Maybe:

  • Paul Maholm LHP (age 30, $4.25 million w/ $6.5 million club option, $500K buyout, career: 8 years, 65-83, 4.29 ERA, 5.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.400 WHIP, 12.1 WAR): Paul Maholm falls under the “crafty lefty” label, a la Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen, Everett Teaford and every other left-handed pitcher in baseball history not named Randy Johnson. He’s a sinkerball pitcher, which is capable of touching 90 mph, but that’s it. Same is the case with his four-seamer. His repetoire also includes a changeup, cutter, slider (all of which clock in the low 80’s), and a low-to-mid 70’s curveball. His overall career numbers aren’t anything to gawk over, but he’s been injury-free, averaging 30 starts per season. He’s a work-horse who can chew-up innings, which is highly valuable. If the Braves opt for the $500K buyout, Maholm could land basically anywhere. My guess is he could get 2-4 years with anywhere between $6-9 million per year.
  • Jake Peavy RHP (age 31, $17 million w/ $22 million club option, $4 million buyout, career: 11 years, 120-93, 3.46 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.184 WHIP, 31.3 WAR, 2007 NL Cy Young): There’s no doubt that Peavy is capable of being a great pitcher. But there’s also no doubt that the White Sox will turn down his $22 million option in favor of paying Peavy $4 million to buyout the last year of his contract. Injuries have shortened Peavy’s past three seasons (not including 2012): 2009: 16 starts – strained tendon in ankle; 2010: 17 starts – detached muscle in back; 2011: 18 starts – lingering back injury issues, arm fatigue. But so far this season, Peavy has kept himself off the DL. In 30 starts, he’s 10-11 with a 3.40 ERA with a 1.134 WHIP and 180 K’s in 203.2 IP. At this point in his career, Peavy will be looking to join a perennial contender – possibly signing a few short-term deals before his career is over. Possibly 1-3 years, $18 million per. It’s a heavy price to pay, and his injury history may lower that number to $15-17 per.

    Carlos Villanueva

  • Francisco Liriano LHP (age 28, $5.5 million, career: 7 years, 53-53, 4.38 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 1.349 WHIP, 8.9 WAR): Liriano has battled to remain an effective starting pitcher over the past few seasons. When he’s on, he can be extremely effective – and at times unhittable. For example, his no-hitter in 2011, where he walked six, was his first, and thus far only, complete game. But he also has his demons. He’s undergone Tommy John surgery already (missed all of 2007), has battled many shoulder/elbow issues, has never eclipsed the 200-inning mark (191.2 in 2010), has made more than 30 starts only once (also in 2010), and has been bouncing back-and-forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen with both the Twins and White Sox this season. But Liriano does get his fair share of swings and misses, thanks to a fantastic mid-80’s slider, as well as low-to-mid 90 mph four and two-seam fastballs. I would guess, given his recent inconsistencies, that he’s in line for a possible one-year deal for around $6-9 million.
  • Carlos Villanueva RHP (age 29, $2.277 million, career: 7 years, 33-34, 4.21 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.292 WHIP, 5.2 WAR): According to the Toronto Sun (Kansas City Star article here), the Royals are already showing interest in the Blue Jays’ pending free agent. Classified as more of a “tweener”, Villanueva has spent the vast majority of his career coming out of the bullpen (300 appearances, 55 starts). Being primarily a starter in the minors before debuting in 2006, the Blue Jays opted to give him a chance as a starter this summer after their rotation was absolutely obliterated by the injury bug. Thus far, Carlos has done his job admirably. In 37 games this season (15 starts), he’s 7-6 with a 3.88 ERA with 115 Ks and 45 BBs in 120.2 IP. The Blue Jays have already stated their reluctance to give Villanueva a new deal, basing their stance on the fact that he hasn’t shown he can be this steady in the rotation over a full season. The Royals should be wary as well of offering him too much money with little history to back it up. But signing Villanueva would help create more comptetion come next spring while providing his valuable flexibility as either a starter or reliever. Pitching is always in high-demand, and Carlos figures to cash-in. He should get something like $20-25 million over 4-5 years – which is very do-able as far as the Royals are concerned.
  • Joe Saunders LHP (age 32, $6 million, career: 8 years, 77-64, 4.15 ERA, 5.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.369 WHIP, 8.5 WAR): Other than Liriano, Joe Saunders is the possibly the best lefty available. He’s very similar in body and pitching style to current Royal Will Smith. Joe has proven to be a durable arm, averaging 6 innings per start and 200+ innings per season. He doesn’t get a ton of strikeouts, but he keeps his walk numbers down and draws his fair share of groundball outs. The former top-prospect of the Angels has seen time with both the Diamondbacks and the Orioles throughout his career, proving he can pitch effectively in either league. He could garner a 2-3 year deal, and could earn up to or around $8 million per.