Tagged: Seattle Mariners

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.

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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.

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?

It’s Time To Go

*Update*

Jonathan Sanchez has been DFA’d. Jason Bourgeois was optioned to Triple-A Omaha.

That’s it. We’ve seen enough. Jonathan Sanchez, it’s time for you to go.

Jonathan Sanchez walks off the field after being relieved in the second inning. Photo Credit: John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star

The Royals were down 5-0 to the Mariners last night before Sanchez recorded an out; yet, he was trotted out again to start the 2nd inning. Two runs and one out later, Yost decided he had finally, finally seen enough. He exited to an ovation worthy of Robinson Cano after throwing 50 pitches through 1.1 innings, giving up 7 hits and 7 earned runs. But hey, he only walked one.

At 1-6, Jonathan Sanchez hasn’t won a game since April 8th – his first start of the season. His 7.76 ERA ranks 2nd worst all-time in club history for a pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched (#1: Chad Durbin – 8.21). For this season, he’s averaging 4.1 innings per start, 92 pitches per start, and 7.4 walks to 6.1 strikeouts. His longest start of the season? Six innings aginst Houston. His fewest pitches thrown? Fifty pitches through 1.1 innings last night. His best full month? April: 1-2, 6.75 ERA, 17 BB, 13 K.

His fastball velocity is noticeably down. In seasons passed, Sanchez’s fastball velocity normally sat in the 91-93 range with the ability to dial it up to 94-95 if needed. But now, he’s lucky if his fastball touches 90 mph. He’s constantly sitting somewhere in the Chen-esque 86-89 range. But that works for Bruce. He isn’t a strikeout guy, and he knows it, so he uses an economy of pitches and arm angles to get guys out. Sanchez used to be a stikeout pitcher when he was able to get the radar gun to flash numbers in the low-to-mid 90’s. But with a decrease in velocity, his approach never changed. His once unhittable fastball has become something of the past.

Do you really need any more information to decide whether or not this guy is worth a roster spot?

On top of that, his love for the game is constantly in question. Time and time again, Sanchez has looked completely apathetic on the mound. His apathy was further eveidenced when he told Kansas City reporters, when questioned about his high pitch and walk totals, “That’s just the way I pitch.”

In his last 5 starts, he’s given up 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 IP (Houston); 6 ER, 6 BB, 5.2 IP (St. Louis); 6 ER, 6 BB, 4.1 IP (Minnesota); 4 ER, 3 BB, 5.2 IP (Detroit); and 7 ER, 1 BB, 1.1 IP (Seattle) for a grand total of 26 ER and 20 BB in 23 IP.

Sanchez’s most recent outing caused the Royals to burn their bullpen again. Louis Coleman (2.2 IP) and Everett Teaford (5 IP) combined to finish out the game. Teaford was scheduled to start tonight’s game against Seattle, but 79 pitches and five innings of relief work will cause the Royals to scramble to fill that spot in the rotation.

Word is that the team will call-up either LHP Ryan Verdugo (the other piece of the Melky trade) or LHP Doug Davis to start the game, as well as RHP Vin Mazzaro to serve as the bullpen’s long reliever – now a key position in the Royals’ bullpen.

In accordance, a major roster move will likely need to be made. Could this possibly spell the end of Jonathan Sanchez’s time in Kansas City?