If the clock is ticking on this Royals season, general manager Dayton Moore does not see it.
The Royals enter Wednesday with a 16-22 record after a 7-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. The club has long grappled with a possible free-agent exodus, including prospective free agents Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain. Yet, with more than 10 weeks remaining before the July 31 trade deadline, Moore said the club would be in no rush to sell off pieces or make hasty decisions.
“It doesn’t take long to put together deals, if you have two willing partners,” Moore said Tuesday during an interview with The Star. “So it’s not something that I think much about.”
A sluggish performance in April heightened expectations across the industry that the Royals would be positioned for a possible fire sale in July. The club opened the season with a 10-20 record, suffered through a nine-game losing streak and entered Tuesday with the lowest-scoring offense in baseball. But a series victory in Tampa Bay and a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles had eased tensions around Kauffman Stadium.
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Kansas City entered Tuesday just 4 1/2 games behind first-place Minnesota in the American League Central. And a semblance of parity has taken hold across the league. On Tuesday, all 15 teams in the American League were within four games of a playoff spot.
The Royals, of course, could still find themselves in position to sell in July. But on Tuesday, Moore stressed that there was little need to make such decisions now. Club officials are confident that they can allow the schedule to play out, offering their championship core another opportunity to climb out of an early-season hole and make a run.
The Royals, meanwhile, will continue to scout other farm systems, a process that Moore describes as consistent with past seasons.
“We have so much information on players,” Moore said. “This is what we do. It doesn’t take much time to put together a deal, regardless of what it is.
“So truthfully, I don’t think about it. We know, as an organization, who the top center fielders are in the minor leagues. We know the top shortstops, top pitchers, and who they play with. We know the top players in the game.”
Standing inside the Royals’ dugout Tuesday afternoon, Moore used the 2015 Detroit Tigers as an example. All summer, it appeared that the Tigers would stand pat. Yet, at the last moment, on July 30, they traded left-hander David Price to the Toronto Blue Jays in a blockbuster deal.
“You just don’t know what the climate is going to be like in the game,” Moore said. “I don’t know what the other teams are going to be doing. The one thing that I think is important: Every team faces the same thing.
“Just look at the Detroit Tigers in 2015. The Tigers made it pretty clear that they probably weren’t going to make any deals. And then all of a sudden, some things changed, and (general manager) Dave Dombrowski says he’s going to trade David Price, and the deal comes together very quickly.”
In addition to Hosmer, Moustakas and Cain, the Royals have a cache of valuable assets that could attract attention at the deadline. Left-hander Jason Vargas owns a major-league-leading 1.01 ERA and will be a free agent after the season. Reliever Kelvin Herrera is under club control for one more season in 2018 and could be in demand for any team in need of relief help.
The Royals, however, will not wave the white flag in May or even June. To do so, Moore said, would be premature. There is still too much season left, too much time before the deadline. For now, the organization will turn its attention toward the field. The decisions will come later.
“There are so many different variables,” Moore said. “Teams are always evaluating things, changing direction at different times, based on whatever circumstance they are in.”