Yesterday’s trade was of the rummage-sale variety. The Royals sent a utility infielder, in Danny Valencia, to Toronto for a back-up catcher, Eric Kratz, and a right-handed reliever, Liam Hendriks. If this strikes you as fairly insignificant in the Royals’ quest for their first playoff berth since 1985, you’re most likely not the only one. Both players’ numbers in the big leagues are far from stellar, and the only thing the move really signals, according to Andy McCullough at the Star, is that the Royals have faith in Mike Moustakas and feel Christian Colon is a welcome addition to the clubhouse.
In addition to yesterday’s moves, the Royals are also being linked to Boston’s RHP John Lackey and LHP Andrew Miller according to Steve Adams and Gordon Edes. Lackey is a bargain addition, due the league minimum next year, which certainly increases the Royals’ interest, but that similarly entices the Red Sox to keep him. He would, however, be an improvement over Jeremy Guthrie, who has struggled as of late. Miller will be a free agent next year, and has had dominant numbers this year with a 2.45 ERA, 0.942 WHIP, and 14.5 SO/9. Acquiring Miller would be great addition to the bullpen, but it would require “something real” for the Royals to land him. Whether the Royals have anything to offer the Red Sox is unclear, but a trade for one of the two pitchers before the deadline could be possible.
From today’s rumors, one thing is clear: the Royals are not pursuing any big bats. Adding arms to the bullpen, and possibly the rotation, seems to be the primary focus for the team as the deadline approaches. The most likely reason is there is nothing out there in the Royals’ price range that allows them any advantage in future years. The Royals have been counted out in the quest for Marlon Byrd and don’t see Alex Rios as a good fit. There is no one else in the Royals’ market who would actually be an upgrade. Instead, the Royals seem content to stand pat and be patient with the hitters already within the organization, hoping that the bats will heat up down the stretch as they did last season.
Yesterday’s moves clearly signal the confidence that leadership has in the current group of hitters and that, if the Royals are to end the longest postseason drought in professional sports, we are all going to have to trust “the process.” Rather than acquiring a power-hitting right fielder, the Royals’ leadership is adding good influences to the clubhouse, seeing both Raul Ibanez and Colon in that light. The Royals’ postseason dreams then ride on good vibes and the hopes that Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, and Eric Hosmer can catch on fire, start hitting for more power, and score more runs. The Royals are willing to add some pitching to help keep games close enough for the offense, but, to be completely obvious here, the Royals are just going to have to hit better now because there’s no one coming to help. It’s time to live or die with only what we have already in house.