The Royals look a little different today than they did a week ago as we’ve had to say goodbye to one of the heroes of the last few seasons, Wade Davis. He’ll definitely be missed as the Royals look to get back to the promised land in 2017. It’s worth mentioning that they were able to repeat success in 2015 with a bit of a different cast of characters than the 2014 squad, though much of the core remained in place. Maybe, just maybe, the little bit of change can help to get the most of the roster. I suppose it’s possible there was some complacency with a roster that was largely unchanged from the championship club the year before.
- Now that Davis is gone, it’s clear to see that the bullpen is the number one priority to upgrade for the Royals over the next few weeks before pitchers and catchers report. Dayton Moore was on MLB Network Radio following the Davis deal and answered a flat “No” when asked whether the Royals have money for an eighth inning guy. Of course, he also said they very well might leave the meetings without making a trade and then the Davis deal was basically completed a few hours later, so let’s take that with a grain of salt. I still think they end up bringing back Peter Moylan, but I get the sense they’ll look long and hard at a reunion with either Luke Hochevar or Greg Holland. Holland’s market is pretty robust, so he might be priced out of the Royals range, but he also really loved his time in Kansas City and I could see him taking a discount to return, though probably not a big one. As for Hoch, it’s been interesting to hear essentially nothing about him since free agency began. Between one of those two, Josh Staumont and any of the reclamation projects the Royals think they can find, I think there’s a darn good chance the Royals bullpen is very good yet again in 2017.
- Given Jorge Soler’s defensive issues, I’ll be interested to see how much time he gets as the designated hitter and how much time he spends in right field. He didn’t play much in right last season with Jason Heyward in town, but he did play a lot there in 2015 and he rated extremely poorly with very little range and an arm that didn’t get the job done. Now, I will say that the Royals won in 2014 and 2015 with right fielders who weren’t exactly gold glovers, so it can certainly be done, but I kind of wonder if he’ll be the guy to get a large amount of at bats as designated hitter with some starts mixed in where he plays the outfield while he’s working with Rusty Kuntz in an attempt to become average. Soler is a pretty good athlete, though much slower than you’d expect, so it’s no guarantee that he can even get there, but if anyone can bring him to that point, it would be Kuntz. Also, playing next to Lorenzo Cain should help a bit with his range issues as he won’t have to go quite as far into the gap as he may have with Dexter Fowler alongside him. I’d really prefer the Royals look externally for another outfielder because if he’s DHing, that probably means we’re seeing a lot of Billy Burns or Paulo Orlando and that doesn’t seem ideal to me. If the Royals don’t trade Jarrod Dyson, it’d be a lot of him and I’d be great with that, but there’s so much talk about that at this point that I’m kind of assuming he’s dealt. Of course, there’s also the possibility that Soler and Hunter Dozier split time between DH and right field. That might be fun.
- This Davis/Soler trade is very interesting because there are a number of things that can be true, even though they seem contradictory. While I truly believe that one year of Davis is probably a fair swap for four years of Soler and that there’s a good chance the Royals even get the better of the deal, I can also say that I don’t believe the Royals got enough. How is that possible? It’s all about the market. Let’s look at the facts. When the offseason began, there were three marquee free agent closers on the market. It seems there were six teams after their services – Cubs, Giants, Dodgers, Marlins, Nationals and Yankees. So it’s clear that this is a game of musical chairs many teams would lose. Greg Holland is out there and Koji Uehara is the latest to find a team, signing with the Cubs, but the three big free agents are the ones who mattered. The Royals had a closer available, and while he only has one year left, he’s also much less of a risk than a reliever on a four to six year deal. Maybe I’m way off here, but it would seem to me that with the teams in search of elite closers and the number of elite closers available, the Royals should have been able to at least pry another prospect from the Cubs in exchange for an outfielder who probably wasn’t even in the top four of their outfield rotation. Again, I like Soler and I do believe that he has a good chance to be more valuable over four years than Davis is over one, but I just think they could have and probably should have gotten more. I get that the Royals wanted big league help, but I believe they could have gotten Soler along with a minor leaguer or two in exchange for Davis. And before you tell me that it was his elbow, yes, I fully understand that might have been an issue, but I still think they sold him short.
- As it stands right now, I have the Royals payroll at $102,266,667 for 14 players. Two of those players ($12 million) are Mike Minor and Omar Infante. Minor actually could contribute to the team, but Infante will not. For the time being, we’ll call it all dead money. Add in $29.3 million in arbitration salaries along with another roughly $5 million to fill out the roster, and the Royals payroll sits at around $136 million or so. Depending on what the orders are for payroll, that could mean there’s a little extra money there to make a move even beyond the bullpen moves mentioned above. There’s been a very little bit of smoke around the Royals having interest in Ivan Nova, and I wonder if there’s something to it if he’s willing to take a backloaded contract. The Royals really could use another reliable starter in the rotation. Nova could do that. I think he’s going to get way more than he’s worth, but if the price falls, this could make some sense.
- And finally, this made me laugh. You may have seen that Matt Holliday signed with the Yankees recently. He has a no trade clause in his deal. It’s to one team – the Oakland A’s. Oh my.