Dayton Moore’s Dilemma and the Delicacy of the 2017 MLB Trade Deadline

May 24, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (35) reacts after striking out looking against the New York Yankees during the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
May 24, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (35) reacts after striking out looking against the New York Yankees during the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

The KC Royals may be the most fascinating team to watch in Major League Baseball as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.

No other team in baseball has a more difficult decision to make than Kansas City. Just three years ago, the KC Royals made an improbable run in August and September and wound up hosting the AL Wild Card game, the team’s first playoff game in 29 years. They went on to sweep the American League in the playoffs and made it to Game 7 of the World Series. There weren’t many people who can say they saw that coming. One year later they dominated the league for most of the year and brought Kansas City its first World Series Championship since 1985.

The core from that World Series Championship team still remains in Kansas City, but much has been written about how long it will stay that way.

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As most of us are aware, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Jason Vargas, are all set to become free agents at the end of the 2017 season. Many baseball fans expect the KC Royals to have a fire sale in July to see what kind of prospects they can get back, and they just might, but the timing of the decision to sell or to go all-in for one last playoff run is one of the most delicate dilemmas that Dayton Moore has had to deal with in his time as GM of the KC Royals.

It seems to me as if everyone has already given up on another playoff run for these KC Royals, and they may be well justified for already writing them off, but I’m going to attempt to give you the most neutral viewpoint possible into the dilemma that Dayton Moore is dealing with, to see if we can’t come up with a logical decision about the Royals future, and when that decision needs to be made.

The first thing Dayton Moore should look at when deciding whether or not to sell is the Royals standing in comparison to the Cleveland Indians. The Minnesota Twins have performed valiantly so far, but, in my opinion, won’t be there in September. I know most people want to look at the Royals record and say, “They’re like 1,000 games below .500.” To that I say, “So what?”

The MLB Playoffs are an absolute crapshoot. Remember that 98 win Angels team from 2014? Sounds like a team who ought to make a World Series run, right? How many playoff games did they win that year? The MLB Playoffs are entirely predicated on matchups and timing. The team with the best record doesn’t always win. Once you get your foot in the door, no matter what your regular season record was, everyone has a legitimate shot to win the whole thing.

For this reason, I think that if the KC Royals are within a game or two of Cleveland by the All-Star Break, they should seriously consider holding on to their trade chips until…

July 27. After the All-Star Break, the Royals play 13 games in 13 days against teams with records that are below .500. The first 10 of those are at home. If Kansas City can come out of the break and win 10 or 11 of 13, they could make a serious run at Cleveland and put themselves in a really good position to win the AL Central.

July 27 is the first day that the Royals have off after the ASG. This allows for a great opportunity for one last evaluation before a potential death sentence to the team for the year. If the Royals are out of it, they’re going to sell, but I don’t see Dayton Moore as someone who is going to give up on his Boys in Blue until he absolutely has no other choice.

The problem is that he may not have another choice. With Danny Duffy being out until at least the All-Star break, there is a serious void in the Royals rotation. The bullpen that helped the Royals dominate in October in previous years has also been incredibly sketchy at times and we all know what the KC Royals offense isn’t doing. This team may just not be good enough to make one last playoff run, and Dayton Moore doesn’t want to admit that just like the rest of us die hard Royals fans. The dilemma lies in this…

Can Dayton Moore afford to wait until July 27 to make his decision? 

In a perfect world, the Royals GM would wait until July 31 and evaluate the Royals’ place in the standings before trading off his franchise cornerstones. Unfortunately, he may not have that luxury.

There are sure to be plenty of other teams that will be selling before this year’s trade deadline, and if the Royals decide too late to sell, it may very well decrease the value of the players by a lot. For example, the Yankees and Red Sox could both really use some help at third base. If Dayton Moore tells their GMs that he isn’t willing to talk until July 27, and then one of them goes out and buys, say, Todd Frazier of the CWS, Moose’s value goes down. Supply and demand may force Moore’s hand before he’s ready to give up on his Royals for the year.

I have absolutely no idea how this season is going to play out for our Boys in Blue. Part of me thinks they ought to just sell now before their assets devalue themselves, and part of me thinks they are capable of rattling off 15/20 and forcing Royals’ management to make one more run for October. One thing is for certain, though, I’m glad I’m not the one who has to make this decision.

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KC Royals fans ought to just relax and enjoy the games, because the decision that Dayton Moore will be forced to make is incredibly delicate, and it’s not one that any of us would want to have to make for the future of the organization.