We’re really cooking on the hot stove now with moves for Doug Fister and Yusmeiro Petit in the books and a couple of non-descript relievers getting traded. The big names are already flying off the shelves, and the Royals have done nothing! Well, not nothing. They did bring back Seth Maness on a minor league deal, so it’s hard to say this offseason hasn’t been riveting. I found Jeff Passan’s article about the reasons for the slow start especially fascinating to read, with something mentioned that general managers are just smarter and aren’t as willing to commit to bad deals. But don’t worry, bad deals are coming. And your Royals might just make one too, so we won’t feel left out.
- I hope you’re reading this early because the non-tender deadline for players is tonight (Friday, I mean duh, it’s Friday Notes) at 7pm central. Craig broke down the candidates, and while I generally agree with his assessment, I’m still not sure it’s worth it to even worry about Brandon Maurer. Yes, I’m particularly jaded about him because I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed watching a Royals pitcher less than I’ve enjoyed watching him. That includes Kyle Davies and Round 2 of Lima Time. I know it’s “only” $4 million or so, as estimated by MLB Trade Rumors, but I also know that $4 million isn’t nothing and I just don’t trust him to be a competent big league reliever. The flip side of the argument is that the Royals aren’t likely to be especially good in 2018 and an extra $4 million to spend and the subtraction of Maurer wouldn’t change that. So, in that case, why not see if he can’t harness a 97 MPH fastball to put up a season like he did in 2015 when he posted a 3.00 ERA and 3.15 DRA? I get that. I really do. But man, I don’t see a lot of improvement happening with him. While FIP likes him a lot more than other indicators because he’s struck people out the last two years and mostly didn’t walk him, the quality of contact against him made for a nasty DRA, which has only been below league average once, and it was that magical (for him) 2015 season. I’m not going to be upset if they don’t non-tender him, but I’d vote for him to go.
- It’s kind of funny how the MLB offseason is a bit of a butterfly effect. For example, the Red Sox have been seen as the most likely landing spot for Eric Hosmer for a number of reasons. Now, they’re rumored to be in contact with the White Sox regarding Jose Abreu. Of course, if they get Abreu, the need for Hosmer is gone, which limits his market. Without the Red Sox (and Yankees) involved, his market in general becomes extremely difficult to predict. In another scenario, talks between the Giants and Marlins are moving forward regarding Giancarlo Stanton. If that came to fruition, it would likely take the Giants out of the market for Lorenzo Cain. Now, there are still a few teams who could have interest in Cain, so his market doesn’t exactly crater without the Giants involved, but given their need and history of paying older players, they seemed to be his best bet to come close to the contract he’s likely looking to receive. So far, no real rumors have derailed the market for Mike Moustakas, though the Angels did say they’re more worried about second base and have Luis Valbuena to man third base for them, so maybe that’s a story to watch in the future. The point is that at least one of these guys may end up falling into the Royals collective laps, which wouldn’t be great, I don’t think. I’ve talked a lot about the draft compensation they’ll receive for all of them, and I think that’s just too valuable to the franchise to give up to bring these guys back on the contracts they’ll want. But it’s still very interesting.
- I was reading through a recent Keith Law chat and someone asked if he saw a way the Royals could contend in 2018. He didn’t see it. Honestly, I don’t either, but if I squint, I think I know the formula. I talked a few weeks ago about how I think the combination of Logan Morrison at first and Hunter Dozier at third would be as valuable as Hosmer/Moose in 2018. So signing Morrison (or someone like him) is the first step. Then, Raul Mondesi needs to show his 2017 time in Triple-A was no fluke and he can hold down shortstop at the big league level competently. He’ll also need to stay healthy, which he’s had trouble doing over the course of a full season. Alex Gordon needs to bounce back and Jorge Bonifacio needs to continue to develop. They probably need to sign a guy like Jarrod Dyson or Austin Jackson to play center field and hope they don’t crater. Then in the rotation, they need health and some luck and also some depth signings. They also need to sign probably one legitimate big league reliever and get bounceback seasons from Kelvin Herrera and my favorite non-tender candidate, Brandon Maurer. But really, that’s it. They do all that, and they could easily maybe be fringe contenders. Yikes. Okay, maybe you have to do more than squint.
- It’s always fun to try to predict which relievers the Royals bring in to spring training who end up actually winning a spot on the club. Back in 2015, it was Ryan Madson defying all odds to get the opportunity. Chien-Ming Wang was the 2016 winner of the lottery, and I guess you could say Peter Moylan was that guy in 2017, even though he was a part of the 2016 team. It only takes one team to really screw this up and give a big league deal to one of the free agents, but there are a few guys who spring to mind for me as pitchers who get that NRI to spring training and make the club. John Axford has been largely terrible for awhile, but he was once good, so that’s a possibility. Casey Lawrence had a pretty terrible debut with the Mariners and Blue Jays, but he’s exhibited outstanding control in the minors and uses a sinker that has sort of worked at times. He might be worth a flyer. Maybe my favorite possibility here is Asher Wojciechowski, who was once a decent prospect and just hasn’t done anything. He’s seen his strikeout rate kick up a bit in the past couple seasons and has good enough control. Hey, you never know. The odds are the non-roster invitee who makes the team will be someone we haven’t thought of, but these three names could be on the Royals radar.