With general manager Dayton Moore on the brief road trip to Detroit, he’s making the rounds speaking to the media. Naturally, the hot topic du jour is the trade deadline looming about a month from now. Will the Royals sell? Is it possible they’ll buy?
You know what they say about making trade deadline assumptions ahead of the All-Star Break, right?
“Mr. Glass has always been very supportive of what our needs are. He’s always been very generous with payroll. Of course, we’ll try to find ways to improve our team without adding significantly to payroll. But it doesn’t mean we won’t do it. We’ve done it before. It’s just hard to predict right now. Not every team will need the same thing.”
Moore is making too much sense these days. It’s absolutely foolish to predict what the Royals – or almost any team for that matter – will do at the trade deadline. After the win against the Tigers on Wednesday, the Royals are still hovering at .500 and are 2.5 games back in the mediocrity that is the AL Central. They’re just a pair of games back of the Wild Card Hunt in the mediocrity that is the entire American League.
The point is (again) that the Royals are in the thick of both races. Opinions may vary as to the ultimate ability of the team to finish strong over the final three months of the season, but while they’re in the mix, it’s incumbent upon management to explore all options ahead.
Anyway, back to the quote. It’s 100 percent accurate. It’s been repeated over and over, but David Glass has emerged as one of the better owners in the game, at least since hiring Moore a little over 10 years ago. He’s stayed out of the way, expanded baseball ops and increased the budgets every single year. What more can you ask from ownership?
Since Moore floats the idea, it does seem difficult to believe they will be “buyers” at the deadline. The farm system is improving and the recent draft looks promising, but there isn’t a Sean Manaea type prospect lurking in the system that can bring back a blue chip player. A package can certainly be cobbled together, but without a standout type of minor leaguer, it’s difficult to imagine adding a Ben Zobrist or Johnny Cueto piece to the puzzle. Any kind of buying that will be done feels like adding a complementary piece like Josh Willingham.
Still, all options are on the table. As they should be.
“We’ll compete to sign (our pending) free agents just like any other team will. In my mind, we have the best opportunity to sign them because we know them better than anyone else. Our track record is pretty good.”
This is more of the same we read above. Moore is letting everyone know all options are on the table. So much has to unfold between now and the free agent marketplace that it doesn’t make sense to project potential contracts or landing spots. What we do know is the Royals have around $100 million committed to 2018 already with Alex Gordon, Danny Duffy set to collect over 35 percent of that number. If Ian Kennedy doesn’t opt out, the amount set aside for those three is $50 million.
There’s a lot to unpack in the previous paragraph. The Gordon contract looks like a disaster just two years in, underscoring the dangers of the free agent market – even when you know the player better than anyone else. The Kennedy contract is worth $16 million, but if he decides he can get more in the market, that money effectively goes back into the Royals wallet, ready to spend on another player. Obviously, he’s not going to tip his hand in June what he will do in November. Hell, he probably doesn’t know what he’s going to do. Which makes all kinds of sense.
“The important thing is for us to evaluate our current team and make sure we get that evaluation right, and then evaluate what the landscape is. Right now, there’s very little indication of what players will be available and what the acquisition cost will be. We’re just doing our due diligence, just like every other team is. In the meantime, we’ll just evaluate what our strengths and weaknesses are.”
Nothing has been decided today? That just makes too much sense.
Without a clear crystal ball, the important question to ask is whether you trust the Royals front office to do the right thing. The Royals have obviously had massive success, but some of their decisions in the process have been questionable. It’s probably no different from other teams, but old reputations are difficult to shake. The beauty of the game is that no one knows what tomorrow will bring. All that matters is the pennant race. And after a miserable April, that’s exactly where the Royals find themselves at the moment.