The KC Royals reportedly inquired with the Chicago Cubs about the availability of lefty slugger Kyle Schwarber before the July non-waiver trade deadline in 2016. The move shows general manager Dayton Moore wanted to add a power bat for 2017.
Whether the swap ever really had a chance of happening or not really isn’t important. What’s significant is KC Royals general manager Dayton Moore’s thought process.
Schwarber is a 23-year-old lefty slugger without much talent in the field. He came up through the minors as a catcher, but played left field with the Cubs in 2015. He injured his knee the first week of the 2016 season and only contributed four regular season at bats after surgery. However, he has played for the Cubs in the playoffs.
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First of all, I presume a deal with Schwarber as a headliner would only have happened if Moore decided to pull the plug on the Kansas City Royals playoff aspirations. With Kyle Schwarber rehabbing from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, he wasn’t going to help the KC Royals make the post-season.
There wasn’t any way Moore could have reasonably expected his team to rebound from a 9-19 July by trading his relief ace for a headliner that was unlikely to play during the regular season.
The second fairly reasonable conclusion is that Schwarber would have replaced Kendrys Morales at DH in 2017.
So, what does that tell us about Dayton Moore’s plans for 2017? I’m thinking that Moore wants to add a thumper to the Kansas City lineup this winter if at all possible. He might bring back Morales in free-agency (presuming one side rejects the $11 million mutual option for 2017). Or try to bring in someone cheaper such as Carlos Beltran on a one-year deal, or Steve Pearce.
But, what he probably won’t do is open up the DH spot as a rotation position to rest his core starters. The 2016 KC Royals lineup didn’t have enough pop with 30 home runs from Morales. Letting Morales walk without adding another power bat isn’t going to help KC improve their run scoring chances in 2017.
Yes, Moore could insert Cheslor Cuthbert into the DH role. He’s a credible major-league bat, but he’s hardly middle-of-the-order hitter at this point in his career.
Cuthbert was attempting to learn how to play second base in the Instructional League shortly after the season ended. His bat would play very well at second base if he could somehow handle the defensive demands in the middle infield. But, you can find better designated hitters than Cuthbert for fairly moderate prices on the open market.