The trade of Wil Myers has both opened up a hole in right field and a window to potentially make the playoffs. Here are a few players the Royals should consider signing or trading for to both fill their needs and climb through the window.
By BEN NIELSEN
The Kansas City Star
With Myers traded and no other major league-ready outfielders on the horizon for the 2013 season (or 2014) in the minors, Kansas City is now left with little depth in the outfield. Lorenzo Cain (durability concerns) and Jeff Francoeur (not very good at baseball) now man two-thirds of the Kansas City starting outfield with Jarrod Dyson left on the bench to back them up, and with the Royals payroll well beyond the $70 million marker (approximately $82 million) it may be difficult to find depth.
The Royals can open up some payroll trading Bruce Chen (though this would leave the Royals without a credible left-handed starter until Danny Duffy returns) or releasing Luke Hochevar (unlikely to happen for reasons no human can understand). The Myers trade means Francoeur is a certainty to be on the Royals roster come Opening Day because the Royals would be down to just three outfielders. If the Royals can open up some payroll there are a few you should keep your eyes on:
Abreu has the range of a snail in the outfield but would be a decent bat for the Royals coming off the bench for minimal dollars. He had a tough season in the pitcher friendly NL West in 92 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but Abreu still walks (a lot) and has some pop in his bat (which Yost wants more of). However, at 39 years old Abreu may decide to retire instead of playing for another season.
Raburn is a defensive liability (and thats being kind) but he would provide an interesting bat off the bench. Last season Raburn was about half as good as Frenchy batting .171/.226/.254 in 66 games for Detroit. But in the three seasons prior he batted .274/.329/.473 with 45 home runs. A one-year deal to split time with Frenchy and backup Mike Moustakas may work out.
The Braves connection could be used again to sign Jones who spent the last two seasons being a backup at the corner outfield spots for the New York Yankees. Jones is a shell of what he once was but he can still play serviceable defense and can hit double-digit home runs. The Royals should be able to get him on a one-year deal for under $2 million.
All three of these guys are short-term solutions, which is probably where the Royals should be looking right now anyway. The Royals will have over $20 million coming off the books after this season between Ervin Santana, Francoeur and Chen so they will have a little bit of room work with to find a more long-term solution.
An interesting and more bold move would be trading for Domonic Brown, who has a ton of talent, but hasnt had the opportunity to prove himself. Brown will be under team control thru 2017 is only 25, but his numbers are not spectacular (or even good) .236/.315/.388 with 12 home runs in 492 plate appearances. However, it wasnt long ago Philadelphia fans assigned similar hype to him as Royals fans have done to Myers. The potential is there so maybe it would bloom in Kansas City.
For now, I think Jones is the best play for Kansas City unless the Royals can find a better option via trade.
If the Royals are truly going for it, throwing some level of caution to the wind and being flexible with their payroll then there are a few players they may want to target to pull the team closer to overtaking Detroit in the American League Central.
As we discussed earlier, the Royals are in need of a right fielder in an attempt to retrieve some of the value lost in the Myers trade and improve the production they are now anticipated to receive at the position, but the best option the Royals may have in closing the gap between them and Detroit is one more starting pitcher.
The offensive boost the Royals are going to need to become competitive and reach the playoffs is going to lean heavily on Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas rebounding from tough sophomore seasons. The Royals shouldnt invest their resources heavily into the lineup until they have an idea of what progress Hosmer and Moose have made. Additionally, finding a bat in the middle of the season for a playoff push will be cheaper than trying to find a worthwhile starting pitcher. If neither can improve or take a large step forward towards reaching their potential then Kansas City is going to be in a lot of trouble anyway and will need a much more aggressive rebuild than what is available now in free agency and through trades. Adding another mid-to-top of the rotation arm would put the Royals squarely in contention without much question.
The targets would be as follows:
It appears the Mets and Dickey are having problems coming to terms on an extension and as things continue it looks like a Dickey trade may be a reasonable possibility. Dickey will be expensive in a trade as it relates to prospects, but financially he is right up Kansas Citys ally. Dickey is scheduled to make $5 million this season, which would be a reasonable addition to the 2013 payroll if the Royals choose not to shed the $5 million that will be owed to either Luke Hochevar or Bruce Chen.
The best part may be what Dickey, last seasons NL Cy Young winner, is requesting in an extension, a combined $26 to $28 million deal for the 2014 and 2015 seasons ($13-$14 million per season), a number that fits nicely into the hole Ervin Santana will be leaving once he walks at the end of the year and a total deal that would be similar to what Kansas City gave Jeremy Guthrie a few weeks ago.
A one-two punch of James Shields and Dickey would favor well against almost every rotation in the American League.
Norris would be the cheaper trade option in terms of prospects and offers the same financial flexibility as he still has three years of arbitration remaining on his rookie contract.
Norris issues come from his ability to stay healthy for a full season, something he has had trouble doing of late. Bud wouldnt be the number two guy the way Dickey would, but he would be a solid number three starter.
Because he is a free agent Marcum will likely not bring the same kind of financial flexibility as Dickey or Norris, and Marcum does have some questions marks about his health.
However, Marcum would be an excellent fit to fill out the rotation. In his last 110 starts Marcum is 42-26 with 3.57 ERA, 1.175 WHIP and a 2.91 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 671.1 IP. If he is healthy and flexible with financial details then Marcum would be a perfect fit for the Royals rotation.
The bold move is trading for Dickey and I would understand if they didnt, but if you're going to go for it, go all out.
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