On August 1, 2016, the Royals stood pat at the trade deadline. Amidst rumors that they might deal Edinson Volquez, Luke Hochevar or even Wade Davis, the Royals did nothing. A lot of people weren’t happy with that decision, but I understood it even though the Royals had fallen out of the race. Part of why I understood it was because Hochevar and Davis were hurt and Volquez had begun to really struggle. And ultimately, Dayton Moore’s inaction was rewarded with a fantastic August that propelled the Royals back into the race. You know how that all ended.
And now, here we are approaching Thanksgiving and the Royals have largely done nothing this offseason. Now, it’s very, very early. Pitchers and catchers don’t even begin to pack their bags for nearly three months, so I’m not saying that they can’t or won’t do anything before the season. But one quote from Dayton Moore very much concerned me. It was in the story in The Kansas City Star about the Royals re-signing Drew Butera to a two-year deal.
“There’ll be some moves that we make and present themselves for us the remainder of the offseason. But I think what you see now is about what it’s going to be going into spring training.”
Let’s get one thing straight. Never trust what a general manager says in November. Many of the things the Royals have said this offseason have been said before. We’ve been told that payroll was at its limit only to see the Royals spend millions of dollars on multiple free agents. We’ve been told the Royals were happy to work with a rotating designated hitter only to see them give a two-year deal to Kendrys Morales. We’ve been told all sorts of things by Dayton Moore and the Royals organization that ultimately didn’t end up being true. And that’s fine. They don’t owe us an explanation or a blueprint. But still, that’s something to keep an eye on.
I look at the team the Royals have coming back and I do see a solid team. I know some look at the team and see a team beginning to fade, but I see the potential for a solid lineup, an average to slightly above average rotation and a very good bullpen.
But I also see holes. I’ve talked about that before. Sure, the idea of Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain back and playing full seasons is great, but is that something we should truly be counting on? Eric Hosmer had a pretty pedestrian season. I think he’ll be better, but I also think he needs a supporting cast around him and now he’s lost his protection in Morales after the Royals let him go to the Blue Jays.
Basically to me, inactivity is the one option that I just can’t make sense out of. I think the Royals should go for it in 2017 given the free agent exodus that could potentially occur in about 11 months. But I get the viewpoint that it might be time to rebuild. I think there’s even a middle ground.
I firmly believe the Royals should be looking to trade Wade Davis to market him as a relatively inexpensive and short-term solution in a market that is going to see three closers get paid asinine money to close out baseball games. I don’t know what exactly he can command in return, but some team should be more than happy to part with a very good, nearly big league ready prospect for the opportunity to only have to commit one year and $10 million for an elite closer. And the Royals should jump on that deal too because they have a replacement in Kelvin Herrera and could use the help beyond 2017.
But I digress. Moves need to happen. The Royals can’t go into the 2017 season with the same cast and crew as they did in 2016. They need another starter. They probably need a second baseman (though don’t ask me where they find that this winter). They could use an outfielder. They could probably use two or three relievers, and that’s before trading Davis. There are quite a few needs with this team.
They were an 81-win team in 2016. I think you add in some injured players and hope for bounce back years from Alex Gordon and Hosmer (please don’t try to tell me he had a good season because of the home run and RBI totals). If I had to give you a 2017 win total based on the current roster, I’d say they’re somewhere between a 78-win team and an 86-win team. I know the free agent market is almost comical in its shallowness, but Moore needs to be creative and take some sort of action this winter.
I understood standing pat at the trade deadline. There were extenuating circumstances that jut couldn’t be avoided. I will not understand standing pat now. There’s too much riding on this offseason for the Royals to tell us how much they like their team and to make periphery moves to the roster like signing their backup catcher. The core of the roster has big-time potential. We’ve seen what this core can do. They can win titles. But banking on it from just this core with nothing else done would be a big mistake. It’s time to either really go for it or think about the future. Picking neither will hurt both 2017 and beyond.