What the Kansas City Royals Should Do


This post could easily be three words long, but I assume that the premise of the “What the X Should Do” series is to assume the place of the front office, so… I know it’s hard to believe, but the Royals are out of 2010 contention this season. They need to look to the future, but it is difficult to figure out when that “future” might actually begin, and thus what current players might and might not be part of it.

Buy or Sell

Clearly, the Royals should sell, but whom? The Royals aren’t young: the only player under 26 among the regulars and starting pitchers is Billy Butler. As will be discussed below, there’s no significant help coming from the farm system (other than from players who should already be up like Alex Gordon and Kila Ka’aihue — both 26) this season or next. The most optimistic possibility for significant help from the minors is 2012, and while that seems unrealistic to me, it at least gives us a place to start: the Royals should be looking to get value for any player on their roster that is not likely to have value for them in 2012.

The Royals have plenty of players that will not be helpful in 2012 or after, but a sizable chunk of them are useless (or close to it) now. Scott Podsednik is Juan Pierre without the glove. Jose Guillen has hit decently this season, but once you narrow his options to AL teams (he can only DH, despite recent appearances in RF), then narrow that to contenders… and after that, well, there’s still his massive salary (prorated portion of $12 million dollars remaining this season). Both were hot to start the season, and if they can’t get a C- prospect for either of them with the Royals picking up their entire salaries now, they never will. Both are currently sucking up playing time better given to others, and should simply be released. Well, if Podsednik can’t be traded he might be useful off the bench “just in case” fellow ill-fated outfield acquisition Rick Ankiel doesn’t return to full health soon. The Royals might as well keep Ankiel around to up his numbers a bit in case of a waiver trade (he has no value at the moment), although he should not be allowed to block Alex Gordon or even Mitch Maier. Gil Meche is a slightly different case, and is on the DL at the moment, but even if he wasn’t, his 2009 and 2010 performance, as well as his contract, gives him little or no value on the market without the Royals picking up a significant portion of his salary. Some other Royals might have a bit of value, but not enough to be helpful to the Royals other than as a salary dump: Kyle Farnsworth, Willie Bloomquist, and Captain 92%.

The Royals do have some players that they should move in expectation of getting something helpful back. Brian Bannister is 29, his recent performances don’t inspire confidence, and by the time 2012 comes around he won’t be worth his likely arbitration award, but he’s still under team control, and might be a useful #4 starter somewhere else. David DeJesus, one of the more underrated players in baseball, has significantly more value. He plays good defense on the outfield corners, can probably still play passably in center, and is having the best offensive season of his career. He has a very club-friendly contract ($4.7 million in 2010, with a $6 million club option for 2011, a bargain for a 3-win player). While he can help a team now, and the Royals don’t need to be (re-)signing any 30+ players for their next contender. He won’t bring back a future star, but he could bring back another (young and cost-controlled) David DeJesus-type: an above-average regular. The longer they wait, the less they will get back.

One intriguing piece is closer Joakim Soria, who has a club-friendly contract through 2011 with club options for 2012-2014. It is a good deal for the team, but relievers are rarely worth more than two wins a season, and the Royals should be at least check if they can get more value for him on the market for the 2012-and-after seasons.

There is something special on the roster. As I wrote above, the “2012” scenario is exceedingly optimistic, but it remains in the minds of many fans because it is the last season of Zack Greinke‘s current contract. Greinke has been up and down this season, but his 5-win 2008 and 9-win 2009 are still relevant. Unless the Royals can realistically contend in 2012, the club needs to be open to trading Greinke. They have time to be picky (and don’t have to trade him this season), but the sooner they move him, the more they can get for him. Even if one thinks he is “only” a five-win pitcher, he’s being paid like a sub-3 win pitcher for the remainder of his contract, and that value could bring back an impressive haul.

Now, if even 2013 seems unrealistic for contention, then all bets are off. If that is the case, the Royals don’t have to trade the following players, but the team should be open to seeing what value they can bring back: Alberto Callaspo (for sure), Chris Iannet– I mean Alex Gordon (still potentially good, despite the organization’s efforts to scapegoat, bury, and devalue him), and Billy Butler (unless they can extend him to an Adam Lind-type contract).

On the Farm

Prior to the season, Beyond the Box Score’s aggregate farm system rankings had the Royals at #6, and since then Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer have actually started to live up to their draft status, and the pitching continues to impress. That being said, it must be kept in mind that other than raking 26-year-old “prospects” Alex Gordon and (maybe) Kila Ka’aihue in AAA (being blocked by all that super talent on the big club), none of the impact prospects are above AA, which is why the 2012 scenario is so unlikely.


Say what you want about Dayton Moore (and I have), but along with putting together a good farm system, he has also done well in convincing ownership to increase the budget significantly (which is the main reason the farm system has improved). The Royals’ major league payroll is currently around $75 million dollars and probably won’t go much higher in the near future. While Guillen, Ankiel, Willie Bloomquist, and Kyle Farnsworth will be coming off the books after the season, the Royals have a number of players due for arbitration raises such as Gordon, Butler, Callaspo, Bannister, as well as contractual raises for players like Greinke and Soria, so there won’t be much money as one might think for Dayton Moore to make his typically shrewd free agent signings.*

* Props to Dan Szymborski.

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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.

32 Responses to “What the Kansas City Royals Should Do”

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  1. Tom B says:

    “This post could easily be three words long”

    OOOOhhhh, do we get to guess what they are?

    Stop playing baseball.
    Spend some money.
    Hire a real coach.

    damn… that last one doesn’t count…

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  2. kevin says:

    The more I read about Gordon and Kila being buried in AAA for whatever reason, the more upset I get. Moore is an awful GM, anyone that points to the farm systems as evidence that he’s not is looking at the wrong example.

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  3. The Tom says:

    would a trade for Ianetta be a possibility with Kila as a centerpiece? or would Rosario be closer to the age group KC is looking for?

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  4. Steve says:

    Chris Ianetta plays for the Rockies not the Royals….

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  5. Gopherballs says:

    Brian Bannister has to end up with the Padres, right?

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    • Okay, I give up — is there a reference here I’m missing?

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      • The Tom says:

        Got me, I figured it was a Floyd reference but he never played there, maybe just because every soft tossing pitcher deserves a shot to pitch at Petco?

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      • Gopherballs says:

        The Padres love starters with Bannister’s skill set, which not only fits perfectly with Petco, but usually can be acquired cheaply. Those pitchers then tend to flourish, or at least post superficially good ERAs. It would be nice to see Bannister in a place where he could succeed and be appreciated. Of course, he probably already knows this.

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  6. Paul says:

    I’m a little confused as to whether you think they can contend in 2012, or whether that is when they will get significant help from the farm system. Moustakas, Hosmer, Montgomery, Crow, and some C+ prospects like Lough, Robinson and Louis Coleman better be in the mix by 2012 or that will be a massive failure. That group is much better than any wave they’ve had come through in quite a while, and it’s not including guys who are expected to move very quickly like Dwyer, Lamb, and Colon.

    They should certainly be in position to get high quality talent to the majors by 2012, but I completely agree that they need to trade guys like Grienke, Soria and Butler while they have so much value because they are cost-controlled. Even if all that talent comes on schedule, competing before 2013 is a fantasy. As far as the farm system has come, they still have big holes (no prospect at all at 2B, e.g.) and need a lot more depth.

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    • I don’t really think they can contend in 2012, barring (perhaps unparalleled) good fortune in player development. I mean, they’d not only need Moustakas, Hosmer, Montgomery, and Colon (among others) to be up in the majors to start the season, but be solid contributors. Even good player development can’t guarantee things will be that smooth for all of them.

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  7. Dave says:

    Just Give Up?

    Actually, I don’t think it’s that far-fetched that the Royals will contend in 2012. With the All-Star Game coming to town, I really hope they do. Really, the best case scenario for a couple of these players may be to let them play out the contract and hope that they become Type-A free agents, because they’re not getting anything for them now.

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  8. Cidron says:

    Remember, your competition is ..
    1. The Twins – ok, new park, some guy behind the plate, and.. a smallish budget too
    2. Detroit – Miggie, Verlander and… ?
    3. ChiSox – Who knows what will be left after this years firesale (and perhaps next years too).
    4. Cleveland – ugh.. name two players that are still good? (and, if you can, you have their next tradable commodities!)

    Looking forward, the only future competion is Twins.. They are always there. Rock steady there in the north. So, given the overall weak division, I can see competition at least. The All star game will be a boost. They will play to keep Grienke as well. (if they lose, he walks, if they win, he stays scenario).

    That said.. its been since 85 for post season, and .. ugh, for winning season. I cant really count that fluke season a few ago, for some reason.. more an abberation to me than anything.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      I think you’re underselling Detroit quite a bit. Ilitch is more than willing to pump money into the team, and they dump almost all of their dead-weight contracts after this season. Verlander and Miggy tie up about $40 million in payroll, but Dombrowski should have another $80-90 million to work with, and they’ve got some good cost-controlled players already in place. Porcello showed us what he can do last year; he’s going to get over the struggles he had in his age-21 season. Jackson obviously isn’t as good as his hit-lucky BA would indicate, but he can probably be a league-average hitter with a plus glove in center – tons of surplus when you’ve got that for only six figures.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Underselling DET is one of the commandments here.

        Any other organization would continually have the amount of $ coming off the books while retaining core mega-talent mentioned ijn every other article.

        I don’t see any way out for KCR. With their budget, they either need to find the best value at each position (not likely) or do it through the draft (but they have to “committ to the kids”).

        Starting with the Guillen and Meche signings, they got trapped in the “are we trying to rebuild or trying to contend” quagmire. They over-paid for “veteran production”, and it’s been a yoke for them since.

        At this point, they practically need complete overhaul where they can get a large group of young tallent that can “come into their own” at the same time. What they don’t need is sporatic young talent mixed with the average (or below) veteran players.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        To be fair, Meche was a good signing until they mangled his arm.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        It was a good signing in isolation. But, Meche wasn’t pushing them any closer to contention given the other deals (or lack of deals) they made.

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    • baty says:

      2012 should be a year of much higher expectations, but they aren’t going anywhere until they can fill out the starting rotation, and i’m seeing much more of the high ceiling capability with the hitting crop. I wonder if after Greinke The Royals might just be fighting over a large pool of 4th starter types.

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    • RoyalsRetro says:

      I think the Twins budget is up to $100 million. The younger Pohlad is not quite the miser his father was.

      The Twins are in a good position to be on top of this division for a long time.

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  9. Mister Delaware says:

    I can’t be the only one in love with DeJesus. This guy redefines undervalued, simply because there isn’t one thing he does on an elite level. Would love to see him home in the Bronx for the next few seasons.

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  10. jirish says:

    I love DeJesus too. Trade him to my Pads. They could sure use his type-a guy that you are quite right in saying doesn’t do anything at an elite level, but does everything reasonably well. They’d get a good player without breaking the bank.

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  11. dirge says:

    Nine all-stars for the AA Naturals.

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  12. Lee says:

    I think they should get Alex Gordon back to the Kansas City Royals. He did as good a job as anyone. Just had some bad breaks on injuries which could happen to any one of them. Go Gordon!!

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