Kansas City Royals Pursuing Johnny Cueto


The latest Kansas City Royals rumors suggest that general manager Dayton Moore is aggressively pursuing Reds ace Johnny Cueto, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:

Apparently, the KC Royals front office believes the rotation needs help and is looking for a headliner to lead it through the playoffs. I guess Dayton Moore is like Kansas City Royals fans: neither have forgotten what Madison Bumgarner did in the 2014 World Series.

I guess the KC Royals joining the Cueto Sweepstakes shouldn’t surprise anyone. Falling one run short in game seven of the World Series has to make the organization hungry to finish the job in 2015. From owner David Glass down to the clubbies, the entire organization has to sense that their time to win is now.

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If the Kansas City Royals were to land their quarry, Dayton Moore would have decisions to make with his pitching. A Cueto deal would leave the KC Royals with Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Chris Young, Edinson Volquez, Jeremy Guthrie, and Jason Vargas in addition to the Reds ace in the starting rotation.

By my count, that would make seven starters. While such depth would be enviable, it would require re-arranging some roles.

One of the pitchers could be included as a piece in the deal. Jason Vargas would make sense because he has two and a half years of team control remaining at $8 million per season. Yet, as a fly ball pitcher, he’d be a horrible fit in the bandbox known as Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark.

Or, the KC Royals could bite the bullet and DFA Jeremy Guthrie as a sunk cost.

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Chris Young would become a great candidate to return to long relief in order to play Kansas City’s version of Yasmeiro Petit. Petit was extremely valuable for the Giants in their 2014 playoff run because he could come in before games got away from Bruce Bochy when his starter struggled early.

Now that all of major league baseball is more aware than ever before of the “third time through the order penalty“, bridge relievers will play an important role in short playoff series.

If Young could come in to halt a challenge to an early lead, he could deliver leads to Kansas City’s HDH trio that would turn into almost certain victories.

Most Kansas City Royals fans will recall that the Royals opened up an early 4-1 lead in Game 4 of the 2014 World Series, except starter Jason Vargas—and KC’s middle relievers—failed to hold the lead for the bullpen’s devastating back end. The Kansas City Royals eventually lost Game 4 11-5.

You can say that it wasn’t just lack of a Madison Bumgarner that cost the KC Royals a title. If they had a Yasmeiro Petit, the 2014 KC Royals might have won the crown.

I’m confident that Dayton Moore didn’t fail to miss this fact.

If Nightengale’s report is true, Moore is prepared to pay the price to land a major piece at the trading deadline, which would be a first during his Kansas City Royals tenure. Up until now, Moore has contented himself with minor tweaks to his roster as July 31 approached.

I suppose having a playoff-proven squad might change your thinking about deadline deals. Dayton Moore’s Cueto pursuit suggests that he might also be in on other top deadline trade targets such as San Diego’s  Justin Upton or Oakland’s Ben Zobrist.

The Kansas City Royals now look like they could be major players at the July 31 trade deadline.

Next: Could Royals Bring Back James Shields To Fix Rotation?

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