While we wait for the 2012 season to end and the offseason to begin, Royals fans are interested to see how the Royals will attempt to improve the starting pitching for 2013 and beyond.
Really, it’s maybe the most likely way they’ll get pitching. In a trade, the player they acquire has little say in going to another team. In free agency, you’ll have to convince them to join your team over the many others who are vying for their services. There’s more control – though both methods have their price.
You have to give something up to get something back, and if the Royals are serious about getting a pitcher (or two), they’ll have to move some important pieces. Buster Olney mentioned the core of Royals hitters who many be available in such a deal, specifically listing Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Billy Butler as options, noting that Hosmer has the most value. They call that the trade that hurts, because at least in free agency, you’re just giving away payroll to acquire a pitcher. Giving up legitimate players for a pitcher can create a new gap.
With recent comments suggesting that Dayton Moore may be hedging on going after free agents,the trade market starts to look more and more like the way the Royals will build up their rotation next year. Some names that have been tossed out are Josh Johnson, Jeremy Hellickson, James Shields, Matt Moore (who Marcus Meade is dreaming of, but Robbie at Rays Colored Glasses would decline trading away) and maybe even pitchers that nobody expects to get traded.
The ideal situation calls for the Royals to get a player like Moore or Hellickson who are still awaiting their arbitration years and have more seasons under control. Another way to go is to find close pitching prospects and bring them up. Bob Dutton passed on a report from Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times about the Royals looking at James Paxton in the Mariners system. Greg Schaum of Pine Tar Press would be mostly okay with that, but would want to get more added to the deal if the Royals gave someone significant up (he mentions Jason Vargas specifically).
No matter what, the Royals can’t keep doing what they’ve been doing. Something has to change with the starting rotation and with every season, the window closes a little bit more. By free agency or trade, the Royals can’t enter 2013 without more improvements being made to their rotation.