Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Can Make a Good Off Season Great

It’s been a smart, rational, and creative off-season.  As it stands today, the Royals are a solid ball club.  They have the best defense in baseball.  The black holes at second base and right field now have light, provided by Norichika Aoki and Omar Infante.  These two also heal offensive wounds, by creating a top of the order that values getting on base.  No way the bullpen will match last year’s numbers, but that doesn’t mean it still won’t be one of the best and deepest in baseball.  What’s the catch? You know the one catch.  A starting rotation sans Santana is weaker.

The Royals can take one of three routes with their rotation.  One route is great.  One route is risky.  One route spells disaster.  Friday is such an optimistic day. Let’s visualize the route of greatness.

The Masahiro Tanaka  sweepstakes are over, and all the free agent pitching chips are about to fall.  Chip number one, Matt Garza, is close to being played.  Garza is not negotiating with a big market, big spender.  Garza is talking a 4 year deal for $52 M from the little ole Milwaukee Brewers.  They are about to nab Garza for $13 M a year, and won’t lose a compensation draft pick .  Ervin Santana may become more affordable than projected.  Why can’t he be had for less than Garza, considering he’s a tad older and will cost teams, other than the Royals, a valuable draft pick?

Again, Garza’s proposed contract would net him $13 M a year.  For argument’s sake, let’s say Santana gets close to the same deal at 4 years for $50 M.  That extra $12.5M would push the Royals way over their salary allowance.  I don’t think the Royals should have a salary allowance this critical year, but it is not my money.  Unless Mr. Glass shakes $11M out from under one of his sofas, the squad will need to shed some current payroll.  Good news.  There are three players on this team with neon signs around their necks blinking, ” Trade me for prospects, because I’m a luxury you can’t justify right now.”

Wade Davis has had enough opportunities as starter to prove that he is not a starter.  He’s a great middle reliever and spot start guy.  Luke Hochevar was one of the worst starters in MLB history, and then put together one excellent year as a bridge, set-up guy.  Emilio Bonifacio has proven himself to not be a major league starter, but an all world bench guy.  He can run and does everything but pitch, play catcher, or hit for power.  He’s kind of a stud, and the type of guy Ned Yost would love to spoon after a long day of killing animals.

Davis will make $4.8 M in 2014.  Hochevar will make $5.2 M, and Bonifacio will make $3.5 M.  That is $13.5 M committed to three nice role players.  The Royals bullpen would still have plenty of depth without Davis and Hochevar.  Bonifacio is much harder to replace, but $3.5 M a year for a utility guy is too steep for a team operating with an allowance.  A BMW for a guy who lives in his mom’s basement.

Trade those three for prospects now.  Bite the bullet on the 4th year, and pat yourself on the back for not losing a draft pick.  The 4th year for Ervin bites, but James Shields, along with his salary and number one spot in the rotation, are gone after 2014.  Sign Santana.  Go to the playoffs in 2014.

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Tags: Ervin Santana Kansas City Royals

  • jessanders

    Been screaming it since the Infante signing (before, really, but especially since).

    You have the fat to trim, so trim it. You have the spot to fill, so fill it.

  • unclejesse40

    The reason I am all over this is because it doesn’t kill us with a horrible contract later. The 4th year doesn’t scare me because I think you could trade him after two years if Duffy, Zimmer, and Ventura all do what they should.

  • jimfetterolf

    Only reason bloggers think the Royals have a payroll problem is because Dayton Moore, once more, gave Bob Dutton a payroll max number that he promptly blew through. Royals can handle the Santana cost for a year, which will then be zeroed out when Shields leaves for his dream of Greinke money.

    A better question on Santana is, will he be able to duplicate a career year in most statistical categories or will he regress after he gets a comfy contract as he has before? That is what Dayton Moore has to decide and it’s a tough choice. If Santana delivers another 3W, then it’s a good signing. If he drops back to 1.8W, it will be a disaster, both financially and blocking Ventura/Zimmer.

    • Ed Connealy

      It was a career year last season, and this signing would come with risks. W/ Shields leaving next season and the Young 3 in the wings, it a gamble I hope they take. The Royals have very consistently communicated their spending limit.

      • jimfetterolf

        And very consistently ignored their spending limit as the blow past it by millions, last year’s $70m one example, this year’s $85m the latest. I figured early that they could go $105m this year and that’s still in play. If Dayton Moore thinks Santana can deliver again and thinks Ventura needs another year in the minors, he’ll sign him for something similar to what Garza got. I assume Santana would want to return to the team where he has the best chance to have more good seasons. We could even hope for a pillow contract so Santana has a chance to show ’13 wasn’t a fluke while not hanging an albatross on the team. I might go $15m on a one year deal.

        • Ed Connealy

          I hope you are right

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