By now, these rumors and reports are becoming commonplace. When looking at the Royals options this offseason, a trade has been basically understood as one avenue to get starting pitching help into the organization. Free agency can only go so far, and despite proclamations to the contrary, the Royals can’t envision a world where their payroll surpasses $80 million, or at least where it does so by fighting over players with other teams.
They traded for Ervin Santana, but he’s not the frontline type that can anchor the rotation. He’s more speculative than anything, and could just as easily collapse or get hurt rather than return to the form that had landed him on All-Star teams and Cy Young Award ballots. Jeremy Guthrie re-signed and should be a nice supplement, but, again, isn’t built to be the lead dog.
The Royals won’t sign Zack Greinke. Anibal Sanchez‘s demands are probably beyond what the Royals can match. The only way to get a top-notch pitcher to come to Kansas City is to give him no real choice of his own (via trade).
So when Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Wil Myers get brought up in trade rumors these days, it’s nothing new. The only thing that seems like it may have changed is that reports have shifted from “these players are available” and “we’ll listen about these players” to hints of actual inquiries where the names are dropped. Passan mentioned that sources have the Royals on the horn talking with Arizona, Seattle and Oakland. Most rumors have them in one form or another talking with Tampa Bay (or showing interest). Atlanta has popped up as a possible trade partner as well.
At this point, I’m ready to start thinking about the player Kansas City would get in return for one of their hitters. I’m going off of the assumption that the Royals have already decided they’re making a move and it’s just a matter of time. They way where there’s smoke there’s fire, and there’s been a lot of smoke:
- September 21 – Buster Olney brings up David Price as pitcher who might be traded and brings up the Royals.
- September 24 – Bob Dutton of the Star suggested that if the Royals couldn’t find a pitcher on the free agent market, a trade may be necessary involving a cornerstone young player.
- October 10 – Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors covered the topic in his Royals Offseason Outlook.
- October 27 – Olney checks back in, focusing more on the major league players and not necessarily Myers, but by this point, it was common knowledge that the Royals were at least willing to listen to trade talks involving their hitters.
- October 27 – Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reported that the Royals were scouting left-handed prospect James Paxton of the Mariners and Alex Gordon’s name came up. Bob Dutton basically confirmed. I weighed in on the rumors swirling at the time.
- October 30 – The idea of offense for pitching would just create a new hole, said Kevin Scobee.
- November 15 – Ken Rosenthal brought Myers up again in regards to a potential Tampa Bay trade.
- November 18 – Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald said that some deal should work out between the Royals and Rays.
The smoke alarm has been going off for two months now, so much so that by the time the Winter Meetings come around, nobody should be surprised to see the Royals swapping a player (or two or three) for a big-name starter. It’s not called Hot Stove season for nothing.