Life as a Royals fan has been fairly quiet outside of constant Greinke trade talk this offseason. Since the David DeJesus trade, only minor league moves have truly been made, leaving some question as to where things are headed from here.
After talking about the Royals’ offseason last night with Clark Fosler of Royals Authority and both Matt and Bill of I-70 Baseball, it dawned on me that there are a few moves that could be made before we reach Spring Training. I just wanted to take a chance to look at potential moves while the Winter Meetings are rolling.
Of course, things all start with Zack Greinke. There are lots of ideas being tossed around about the Royals’ asking price and whether Cliff Lee will have to sign first, but it seems to me that it’s very likely Greinke isn’t a Royal next season. Though the Royals are supposedly growing bored with the Rangers’ trade offers (and the Rangers are frustrated with the Royals’ demands), it’s become clear that the Blue Jays are actively looking into a potential acquisition of Greinke as well.
I had written a post about what the Royals would be asking for from the Jays, but it became clear that I had no knowledge of the Jays’ system to be able to evaluate that. Nonetheless, it seems to me that the Jays have actually become the front-runners for Greinke. Of course, all I know is what I hear through rumors, but there has been a slight increase in talk of a deal with the Jays in the last few days. The Yankees and Rangers are still in it and it’s likely the Nationals, Brewers, or Rockies could make a swing as well, but I just have a feeling about the Jays. I think the trade happens, but talks may escalate after the Lee domino falls. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Greinke in a different jersey by New Year’s.
Okay, with the big talk out of the way, there are a few other things that might happen. First, there is a packed infield in Kansas City, so a trade will likely empty someone from that group. From first glance, Butler, Ka’aihue, Getz, Betancourt, Betemit, Aviles, and newly-acquired Arias all have a case to start with the Royals. That’s seven players for four positions, a DH, and a bench spot. One guy will be left out, since a backup catcher and fourth outfielder will take up other bench spots. Now, there have been rumors about an Aviles trade for a while now. I would tend to group Mike in with the Brayan Pena camp – players the organization doesn’t really seem to care for.
Does that mean that I think they’ll trade Aviles? Well, I think he makes the most sense in a trade. I think he could even be included in a Greinke deal depending on the team, though the teams that have been mentioned have strong players at second and shortstop. Aviles wouldn’t bring back much, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he’ll either be gone by Opening Day or will be a Storm Chaser. I just think the organization views him as the easiest piece to trade and not as a viable part of the team’s future.
Another guy on the trade block seems to be Robinson Tejeda. I’ve never been a fan of Tejeda’s, but he has his moments (like the end of the season) when he seems to have figured “it” out. For anyone that hasn’t blocked those memories, you might remember the trades of Ramon Ramirez and Leo Nunez, neither of which brought much back for the Royals. Coco Crisp was intriguing, but Mike Jacobs was depressing. For a team that might be desperate to find some capable relievers (Arizona? Boston? Milwaukee? Angels?), Tejeda could be an attractive option. Given that pretty much every spot in the infield is stocked and the outfield isn’t much different, a prospect would be the likely return.
Other moves I wouldn’t be surprised to see are a move with Mitch Maier and one of the two guys above or possibly even Kila going to a team that might appreciate him more. There was once talk of signing a veteran catcher to bridge the gap until Kendall returns, but it seems less probably as the offseason goes on.
As far as signings, it seems almost inevitable that the Royals will sign a right fielder like Jeff Francoeur or Matt Diaz. If that happens, expect a move with Maier or even Gordon to be on the next step. Though the Royals have stockpiled guys at various positions in the past, I think they’re more likely to keep things moving to allow for room for the minor leaguers to play. Things are changing, and that methodology will likely be apparent soon.
With this season’s additions of Mazzaro and O’Sullivan, the rotation is likely set. Of course, if Greinke is traded, as I believe he will be, there’ll be an open spot. It sounds like the Royals will give Everett Teaford a shot at that slot, but I wouldn’t expect them to sign another pitcher. There are enough guys in Omaha to fill those spots.
So, I would expect most of the activity to happen before 2011 hits. It could be a tough offseason with Greinke moving on, but it seems almost inevitable at this point. If you have ideas about what trades you think the Royals will make, add them in the comments.