As the first full day of the 2017 Winter Meetings came to a close, the Royals held still, which isn’t necessarily the wrong course of action. There were certainly rumors, which I’ll get to in a minute, but it was a relatively quiet first day. I expect that by the time the executives have left Orlando, the Royals roster has a chance to look very different than it does at this time. Of course, a lot of that depends on movement from other teams, but the Winter Meetings rarely disappoint when it comes to storylines.
The biggest thing, I think, holding things up is the Royals pursuit of Eric Hosmer. I don’t think signing Hosmer long-term is what’s best for the organization, but worse than that is having a plan hinging on his market not developing. It leaves the team in a really vulnerable position of watching potential options pass them by while they’re waiting for him to make his decision. In my opinion, if the Royals are dead set on going after him, they need to be aggressive. Either they go after him hard now and get an answer one way or another, or they back off. There are plenty of first basemen out there who could be a benefit to the team and won’t cost them a draft pick or the money that goes along with it.
And that’s where we come to our first rumor around the team. Matt Adams is supposedly a target of the Royals, along with the Indians and Nationals. Right now, if the Royals want Adams, they can probably get him. The Indians interest is as a backup plan to their own Carlos Santana. The Nationals interest is reportedly as a role player. Granted, he’d get plenty of at bats, but he’d still be a backup. If the Royals want to pounce on the big lefty, now would be the time. Adams hit .274/.319/.522 last year with the Braves and Cardinals and was worth 1.3 WARP. He struggles with lefties and isn’t considered an especially good first baseman, but he could fill a power need and become a nice trade chip mid-season if a team is looking for a power bat. Plus, he’ll be pretty inexpensive. I wouldn’t bet on him getting more than two years or more than $6 million per year, and even both those numbers might be a bit high.
The issue with Adams or any first baseman is it leaves the Royals in a bit of a roster crunch with all their corner outfielder and corner infielders. Currently, they’re working with Cheslor Cuthbert, Brandon Moss and Hunter Dozier on the infield and Alex Gordon, Jorge Bonifacio and Jorge Soler in the outfield. There are five spots for those six, so they can pretty much make it work while keeping people fresh, but if they add another name to that list, it gets murky. Dozier does have options left, so he could spend more time in Triple-A, but if they sign someone like Adams, they have to deal with his platoon splits and find someone to play against lefties, at least the tough ones. That’s where Dozier could be a big benefit to the big league roster, but he’d likely be the odd one out.
Unless! If the Royals do sign a first baseman, I would expect them to shop Moss. You might be wondering what they could get for him, and the answer is not much, but if they pair him with a bigger name, they might get some salary relief at the very least. And given that he’s only under contract for a relatively reasonable amount in 2018, it probably wouldn’t hurt the prospect haul if they traded him along with someone who has value like a Danny Duffy or Whit Merrifield.
I know. Jaws are on the floor everywhere. How could the Royals possibly trade Duffy or Merrifield?!?! Well, the odds are that they won’t. Odds are typically against deals like that, but the Royals are exploring all options. Ken Rosenthal mentioned it the other day in The Athletic (you should subscribe, it’s worth it) and everything I’ve heard since indicates that pretty much everyone is available in the right deal. I say pretty much everyone because I don’t think the Royals are going to trade Salvador Perez under basically any circumstances. Should they? Maybe. Will they? Nah. (Note: I have been wrong before.)
The player I think most likely to be traded this winter is Kelvin Herrera, coming off the worst year of his career. But the value is still there, even if it’s lower than it has been at any point. His velocity was still enough with enough movement. The results just weren’t what we’ve come to expect in Kansas City. For a one year risk, I think a team would be willing to part with enough that the Royals make out well in a deal. I’ve thought about this and whether they should let Herrera re-establish some value, and I come out torn.
On one hand, he’s coming off a season that has dropped his value enough that we have to think about this, which means he’s a risk. On another hand, the longer the Royals wait, the less time an acquiring team has with Herrera. On the third hand, if he has a great two or three months to start the year, maybe they get a fair amount more for him than they otherwise would. There’s a lot going on, but there’s a very real chance the Royals leave Orlando ready to field a team without Herrera, Wade Davis or Greg Holland for the first time since mid-2010.
And finally, there isn’t a rumor for this, but I would love to see the Royals reach out to the Mets and see about a Joakim Soria for Matt Harvey swap. The Mets are said to be dangling Harvey in return for a reliever, and given the contracts we’ve already seen given out, a year and essentially $10 million for Soria isn’t bad. I know, you’re probably laughing about Harvey, but he’s just the sort of risk a rebuilding team should take. He’s only under team control for one more season and MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn $5.9 million.
He hasn’t been good since 2015 and was downright horrible in 2017, but maybe a change of scenery would be good for him. I don’t know. I just think it’s worth a risk. If he’s bad, oh well. If he’s good, you either have a phenomenal trade chip or a guy you can recoup a draft pick from with a qualifying offer. Maybe Harvey can help the Royals win more than just the one championship. You never know.