Friday Notes

Friday Notes

It’s not that moves don’t get made this time of year, because they do. Things get especially slow around now because even those hard working baseball people like to spend time with their families. While I don’t think anyone would ever begrudge them that, it’s going to make for a long couple weeks before the hot stove heats up again. I guess saying “again” might be unfair because I’m not sure it ever heated up in the first place. Either way, it’s been a super quiet offseason, which has meant it’s been tough to find topics to write about. I know, I know, first world problems and all that. But still, give us something! 

  • We already know about the market for Eric Hosmer closing in a little bit, but I think he’ll still be able to find plenty of money from some team wanting to make a splash on a first baseman. Mike Moustakas, though, is getting dangerously close to looking for a pillow contract to get back on the market next season. If he does sign that one year deal (maybe with the Yankees, I guess?), that means he will definitely not cross the $50 million threshold that the Royals need him to pass if they hope to gain a comp pick after the first round of the 2018 draft. So that brings up a question that I have if it then becomes a smart move for the Royals to give him a two or three year deal worth $17 million or so per year. Three years of Moustakas (in what’s likely a down time) in exchange for a draft pick just ahead of the third round and the $800,000 or so in slot money that comes with it is an interesting proposition. The Royals would have a solid player who the fans love and they’d have a potential trade chip. It would also keep Moustakas off the market next year (Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado) and the year after (Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon and to a lesser extent Nick Castellanos). That’s a service to him. Plus, it might mean entertaining a trade of either Cheslor Cuthbert or Hunter Dozier. I don’t think their trade value is particularly high, but they’d fetch something theoretically, so that’s taken into account here. I don’t know the right answer. I still lean toward the pick being more valuable because the Royals aren’t going to compete in the next two or three years, but I would entertain an argument for signing Moose in this scenario.
  • One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is how hesitant Royals fans are to trust Raul Mondesi at shortstop, which I both completely understand and find hilarious. Show me a player who handled shortstop well in Triple-A and hit .305/.340/.539 in his age-21 season and I’ll show you a prospect who should be considered one of the best in the game. If he had zero big league service time, he’d be one of the most awaited young players in baseball in 2018. Because the Royals inexplicably rushed him to the big leagues in 2016 and then doubled down on their mistake in 2017, he’s no longer prospect eligible and he’s lost some of his shine because he’s actually struggled at the big league level. So now there are questions of if he can actually hit big league pitching and all that. The other reason I find it hilarious is we’ve spent the last seven seasons watching Alcides Escobar hit at a vaguely passable level at times and now we’re all worried about a legitimate top prospect taking over in a season where competing isn’t even really on the table. I don’t really know what my point here is other than the fact that the lack of attention on Mondesi is really interesting to me. I hope the strides he took in 2017 will continue into next season and he can form a dynamic, speedy double play combo with Whit Merrifield and Nicky Lopez for many years to come.
  • One stat that I always find interesting even though we have to take it with a grain of salt is extra base taken, as listed on Baseball Reference. It’s basically a stat showing how many times a player took more than one base on a single and more than two on a double, so there are a lot of factors that can make it a little screwy. The league average was 39 percent and the Royals were at 40 percent, so they were pretty much average, but seeing less of a guy like Brandon Moss (20 percent) and likely none of Melky Cabrera (36 percent) and Mike Moustakas (13 percent) should help the Royals overall number. Not that it matters if they’re not really contending, but one of the ways the Royals could steal a win or two, literally, if they can really run the bases. Guys like the aforementioned Mondesi and Lopez will help. Cuthbert was actually right at 40 percent last season, so if he gets more playing time, he could help the number, and if it’s Dozier, I think he’s a guy who can run the bases pretty well himself, so we should see some more aggressive running at least. I’m not sure if it’ll actually mean much in the long run, but at least it’s entertaining to see guys run the bases and run them well.
  • I’m not so sure the Royals are going to make many trades of their veterans this offseason, but I do think they could be one of the more active teams during the season. I know there’s plenty of reason to be skeptical of that given the history of Dayton Moore standing pat at the deadline, but I think they have a lot of candidates to really improve their value early in the season. I also think the reality of being a not-so-good team will have set in and allowed the Royals to make the tough decision. Plus, many of their top trade chips are players with multiple years of control left, so they’ll still bring back a nice return. Look at three examples of this. Danny Duffy has a chance to prove he’s healthy and maybe look more like the fantastic pitcher from 2016 than the merely very good pitcher he was in 2017. Whit Merrifield has the chance to build on what he did in 2017 to show it wasn’t a fluke. And Scott Alexander, well Alexander might be a guy to trade sooner than later given the volatility of relievers. So maybe he’s not the best example. There’s certainly a risk in waiting because Duffy is a proven, quality commodity and Merrifield’s value may never be higher, but if the deal isn’t there, I don’t think it’s the worst thing to shop these players come July. Maybe their value drops, but I think that’s a risk worth taking.
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