September 21, 2011; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore watches batting practice before a game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Buyers Or Sellers?

It is almost July, which means that trade talk is going to start picking up.  For the past decade the Royals have not been in contention for a playoff spot, and so we have gotten used to our part in trade talks as that of the seller.  What pieces do we have that are worth anything, and who will buy them.  This year that may be what happens again, or it could be the opposite this time and the Royals could look to add something.  Right now it is very unclear, but within three weeks it should be.

Take a look at the upcoming schedule leading to the All-Star break:

2 at home Braves

4 at Twins

3 at home Indians

3 at home A’s

4 at Yankees

3 at Indians

There are only two teams that I truly believe to be good in that group.  The A’s and the Braves are good teams, and you just hope to hold serve against them.  That is only 5 of the 19 games.  Some people may believe in the Yankees as well, but don’t count me among them.  Their line-up is full of reclamation projects that got lucky early and are starting to come back to earth, and their pitching staff is mediocre.  They are under .500 in June and I would still bet they will finish the season under that mark as well.  Cleveland is okay, but their pitching staff is going to be susceptible to long droughts, and the Twins are just a bad team.

What does all of this mean?  In my opinion it is pretty simple.  Right now the Royals are 3 games below .500 and looking at a fairly easy stretch of the schedule leading up to the break.  If come the All-Star game the Royals are not at or above .500 it is probably time to sell because the Tigers will probably be out of reach in that case and teams like Oakland, Baltimor, Tampa Bay, and Toronto are going to make a wild card difficult to get as well.  If the Royals can be 3+ games over .500 the next three weeks, then they will probably be close enough in one or the other that an acquisition makes sense.

Being 3 games out of a playoff spot or so would be enough for me to expect a push.  Otherwise it is time to cash in Ervin Santana who could probably bring a decent haul the way he has been pitching.

Being of an optimistic sort of persuasion I wanted to spend a little time talking about acquisition.  There are two obvious places that the Royals could improve, second base and right field, which have been discussed with names like Chase Utley and Giancarlo Stanton being thrown around.  I also think that third base and short stop should also at least be in consideration for trades.  Mike Moustakas might be coming around and long-term Alcides Escobaris not going

June 17, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) hits two run home run during the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

anywhere, but it might be worth upgrading one of those two positions temporarily if they continue to struggle.

Let’s deal with the two mentioned first.  Even Buster Olney mentioned the Royals as a good candidate to trade for Chase Utley, and it makes sense on paper.  Second base needs an upgrade, Utley is in the last year of his contract, and a high on-base guy with some thump would really make the batting order more formidable.  It would be very exciting, and equally terrifying, to see this sort of trade.  Utley’s games played since 2009 have been 115, 103, 83, and so far 48 this year.  See the declining trend?  That would be high risk and $5+ million in salary depending on when you signed him.

The other player, Giancarlo Stanton, that many people have mentioned is also high risk.  Stanton is only 23 and possibly has the most raw power of any player in major league baseball.  He also has exactly one season where he stayed healthy.  Last year  he only managed 123 games and has already been on the DL for much of this season.  Last year’s was a knee issue, and this year’s a hamstring.  This may be bad luck, but even in 2011 he battled some injuries without going on the DL.  Along with injury issues, the cost of Stanton would be huge.  He would be under team control for 2014, 15, and 16 on top of the rest of this season.  My guess is that to get Stanton would cost Yordano Ventura plus at least a couple of the Cheslor Cuthbert, Adalberto Mondesi, Kyle Zimmer, or some other prospect that Miami liked.  Basically it would strip the farm system.  Again it would be very exciting and completely terrifying.  Jose Altuve is another player I have heard mentioned that may be similarly cost prohibitive.

These are not the only two players that might be a good fit for the Royals though.  There are a litany of Alfonao Soriano and Aramis Ramirez types that will likely be available, but I don’t like most of them.  There are a few teams though, that have interesting players and may fall far enough out of contention to sell.  The Giants have Hunter Pence who would be a good add in right field and is in the last year of arbitration.  Both Carlos Quentin and Chase Headleymight make sense if the

Jun 14, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) drives in a run with a base hit against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Padres become sellers.  Headley still has another year of arbitration, so this might only happen if they Royals decide to call it quits completely with Moustakas.  Quentin would be under control for two more years and has had injury issues so it would depend heavily on cost.  Chris Denorfia would come from them cheaper and is signed through next year, but I don’t trust him.

Another Philadelphia player, Michael Young, might be worth looking into as well.  He could play second or third, probably not terribly well, but his bat is an upgrade at either spot based on what has gone on so far at those positions this year.  He would likely be a pretty cheap add as well.  I would call Minnesota about Josh Willingham who is signed through next year and would add some power.

Hopefully, for once, we can have serious discussions about the Royals trading to get better for this year rather than the future.  I haven’t spent a lot of time on it yet, but the next few weeks could cause this to become the biggest topic surrounding the team.  Three weeks until All-Star time, and three weeks to find out if the Royals should buy or sell.

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  • Marcus Meade

    It’s tough for me to tell if/how the Royals should look to acquire because I don’t think we’ve seen the best lineup they have to offer yet. Until we get a chance to see this: 1. Gordon (7) 2. Hosmer (3) 3. Perez (2) 4. Butler (DH) 5. Moustakas (5) 6. Cain (9) 7. Giavotella (4) 8. Escobar (6) 9. Dyson (8) with Lough as the fourth outfielder and Johnson, Tejada, and Kottarras off the bench, it’s not clear if they need to make a move or what the highest priority is. Obviously, it would be great to get Utley, but a team like the Royals really has to consider IF they need to make a move. I’d love to pick him up, but I’d also love to see if Giavotella can hit better than .214 (Getz) or .230-something (Johnson).

    • Brian Henry

      They hate Giavotella, so I don’t think we will see him even though it is rather unfair. I think Lough and Dyson are good 4th outfielders, but would prefer a bigger bat in right.

      • Marcus Meade

        I would prefer a bigger bat too, but the reality of a small market team is that not everyone in the lineup is going to be a .300/.400/.500 guy. They’ve got bat who are supposed to be their cornerstones (Butler, Gordon, Perez, Hosmer, Moustakas). Some are going to have to be guys like Lough and Dyson, who aren’t All-Stars but provide good value. Dyson is a 3 WAR player if he gets significant playing time (maybe more). He’s been worth .6 fWAR this year in only 42 PA and some pinch running work. To me, he’s a great example of a guy who is undervalued but who could be a fantastic bottom of the lineup guy hitting (.270/.330/.390) with a bunch of stolen bases and great defense. Because the Royals will never be the Yankees payroll wise, they need to realize value when they have it and take advantage. Besides, with Dyson, singles are essentially doubles because he can just steal second.

        I don’t know why they hate Gio so much. To me, his numbers in AAA this season might be even more impressive than years past. He’s got a 13% walk rate and a .375 OBP with 6 HR.

  • Courtney Edwards

    How long did it take the Royals to give up on players like Davies etc. and they still haven’t given up on Francoeur, Hochevar, and Getz. Moustakas isn’t going anywhere.

    • Brian Henry

      Getz is in AAA, Francoeur hardly plays, and Hochevar is in the bullpen. I don’t think they should give up on Moustakas completely, but some minor league time down the stretch might be a good thing.

      • Courtney Edwards

        Yes, but other teams would have given up on those three many years ago. I agree Moose needed to be sent down until George Brett got here. I think Brett is good for Moose’s confidence and he’s had two-hit games the last 4 games.

        • Brian Henry

          That double tonight was pretty too. The last week has bought him a little bit of time since it seems like he might be turning it around.

  • unclejesse40

    Do we get anything if Santana signs with another team in the offseason? If so I can see keeping him. But if not I say trade him at the deadline to a pitching starved team that is willing to give up on more than they should. The Royals are always going to have to be a team that flips players if they are going to make it. I would probably feel different about this if I thougth the Royals had a real shot at getting to the playoffs but with these weak bats I just dont see them making a real push. As a Royals fan that is had to say, but I want to see a winner here in KC and if trading Santana for a haul of players makes that happen then so be it. Billy Beane has never been afraid to do this and last I checked they have a better record the last 10 years than we do.

    • Michael Engel

      If the Royals keep Santana and make him a one-year qualifying offer for 2014 and he declines it to seek a long term deal elsewhere, the Royals would get an extra draft pick next year.

      Last year the qualifying offer amount was around $13 million, but it’ll be determined by averaging the top 125 salaries for that season, so it should go up every year. Expect about $14 million. If they made that offer and he signed somewhere else before the start of the new season, that team would lose their first round draft pick and the Royals would get a pick after the first round in the supplemental round.

  • Bob Ellis

    I think they should be buyers – if they hurry up and make a move. Every day they wait is another day they trot out someone in the lineup who shouldn’t be there. The longer they wait, the more they will likely fall behind, at which point buying makes less sense.

    Get on the phone and pull the trigger TODAY. Don’t wait for the trade deadline.

    On the plus side…I really do think Hosmer is coming out of his funk. I think Moose MIGHT be. Which means…we’ve got to figure out how we want to sort out the outfielders and what we’re going to do at second base. I’m glad to see Getz out of there, but Johnson’s no long term replacement. I’d say make a move for a second baseman…see what happens. If they can get a thumper to play RF, I’m all for that as well. But I think we can cobble together a productive outfield (for now at least) shuffling around the guys we have.

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