Dayton Moore explains why Royals didn’t make deal at trade deadline

Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore talked after the non-waiver trade deadline ended Thursday, July 31, 2014, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore talked after the non-waiver trade deadline ended Thursday, July 31, 2014, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. The Kansas City Star

The non-waiver trading deadline came and went on Thursday afternoon, and the Royals did not make a move.

General manager Dayton Moore spoke with reporters for about 11 minutes before Thursday’s game, and explained the factors that hampered his ability to make a move. Here is the transcript:

Can you give us an assessment of how things went today?

“I’m really proud of the work that our scouts, Gene Watson, our pro director, and our entire staff, putting us in this position so we could exhaust all the potential opportunities to improve our team. There was just nothing that really presented itself that we felt would work at the end of the day.”

Do you anticipate any opportunities in August to acquire players once they clear waivers?

“Absolutely. There’s always going to be opportunities. It’s always going to be a little more difficult to execute deals after the deadline. But certainly deals have been made in the past. Well, as I said many times, just continue to look for ways to improve our team. There will be opportunities. We’ll keep searching.”

Was the biggest obstacle that there weren’t intriguing players available, or that the cost of those players were prohibitive?

“The acquisition cost, truthfully, was not … Our guys have done a tremendous job of filling our system. And we were prepared to make moves with prospects. There was nothing that was presented to us that made us, certainly uncomfortable, but didn’t take us out of the running. We were prepared to be as aggressive as we possibly could.

“At the end of the day, there weren’t any players that we could get our hands on that would be upgrades of what we have.”

What was your reaction to Detroit acquiring David Price?

It’s a great rotation. That’s for sure. Found out about it, obviously, late. It’s part of the game. We’ve been dealing with that since Victor Martinez got hurt in the offseason several years ago. If you’ve got an opportunity to do that, that’s just the way it works in the game. They do a tremendous job of making sure that they get the best talent available.”

Were you surprised at the level of players dealt today?

“Big-league players, yeah. Absolutely. About two weeks ago, just assessing what teams were looking to do, it was rather apparent that teams were looking to get major-league players back in return.”

Was money a factor in not being able to make a deal?

“Well, there’s a financial analysis that takes place with every player, with every group of players. We’re not going to apologize for our market, and what we can’t do. But there’s certainly limitations. That being said, we’ve got to look for ways to make our team better. We’ve got to concentrate on who the players are, and who we are, not necessarily what the payroll is.

“But it’s always a factor. I can’t speak for anybody else. But if you see some of the players that went today, there’s money exchanged for a reason. There are certain players available to certain teams for a reason. It’s just the way it works in the game.”

A lot of the teams you’re chasing made additions. How much tougher is it to make the playoffs now?

“Well, we were an 86-win team in 2013. We added Vargas. We added Infante. We added Aoki. We felt like we’ve made some nice additions to our bullpen this season, already, with some veteran guys. I think we’ve improved upon our team.

“As I’ve said before, it’s important that our current group of players produce. And we believe they will. They haven’t played their best baseball yet, collectively. That’s what we have to count on, at the end of the day. We believe it will happen.”

Did you pursue Yoenis Cespedes?

“No. Truthfully, it wasn’t an option for us. You look at the return, and you put yourself in that situation, what we would have had to give up … internally, we’ve got to expect our own group of players to begin to produce in the middle of the lineup. And we think they will. But we didn’t have a pitcher of that caliber that we were willing to trade to get a bat like Cespedes back.

“We’ve got to ultimately keep our pitching very strong. And to give up a top-flight pitcher to get a position player like that back, I’m not sure it would have worked for us.”

Shields fits into the same category as Jon Lester. That wasn’t explored?

“Well, it’s explored. Absolutely. We just didn’t feel like that was something that we could execute.”

Did the fact that other clubs were seeking big-leaguers, not prospects, handcuff you at all?

“It’s difficult, where we are right now, to subtract from our major-league team. When you’re looking for offense, it’s hard to give offense up. We’ve got some young players that are certainly very attractive in some markets with some teams, based on where they are. But, again, we just felt that it was important to keep our pitching strong. Maintain our strengths, that’s pitching and defense.

“Everybody is looking for good pitching. Trust me: There’s a lot of teams that would have loved to have some of our pitching in their rotation. But at the end of the day, where are you going to get that pitching back?”

Were you surprised Cespedes was available?

“Not necessarily. When you look at the deal, it makes perfect sense. It helps both teams, short term and long term. So it’s not really a surprise. There’s a lot of ideas exchanged. But, again, for us to get that type of bat, you’re talking about giving up a top-flight pitcher. In that case, then you’d have to weigh, if you’re in that market, who do they like better? The guy they got, or one of our guys.

“It’s based on what the acquisition cost is ultimately going to be. and what a team needs, and what they want, and what their evaluation is, of, in this case, the pitcher.”

Did you come close to anything?

“Yeah, we had several deals that we felt were executable. Just didn’t happen at the end of the day.”

What would you say to the fans about the lack of a move?

“You can only take advantage of what’s available to you. Again, internally, we feel that this group of players are very talented, and have the ability to produce, and will produce. We didn’t feel that there was a significant upgrade for us, based on what the acquisition cost was going to be, that would vastly improve our team, or make us better to the point where we felt it was going to put us over the top.

“So, ultimately, it’s the group of players that we currently have. You can say one bat, to this group of players, with the way we’re performing, I’m not sure, it’s going to take four and five guys producing. When you look at the players that were available, you couldn’t execute it. You just couldn’t get them.

“Everybody is looking for, obviously, good players. To make a move just to make a move, to say that we made one, right now, it’s just not a fit. I’ve learned early on that you just can’t force things. So there will be other opportunities.”

Would you have been more aggressive if you were closer to playoff contention?

“No, I think we tried to be very aggressive, in some areas. But at the end of the day, if teams don’t want to move those players, there’s nothing we can do. Again, we just felt like with the way our offense has performed, at this point in time, if we can’t add a couple bats that really infused our lineup, there was no reason to detract from our strength. Which was our starting pitching and our bullpen.

“Especially the two guys at the back end, and our three or four starters that are performing very well. Especially the two guys that are zero to three in their service time. So it didn’t make a lot of sense to take away from that to add a big-time bat that, again, fits into our lineup, yes. But our offense, our success is going to be predicated on our current group stepping up and performing.”

Were there inquires made about your players?

“Everybody wants good players, as I’ve said. So I’m not going to comment necessarily on who wanted our players. But you have discussions with all the teams. There were 29 other teams that we had discussions with, and have been having discussions with for over a month. So you know who fits in other team’s lineups, and in their rotations, and in their bullpens.

“There’s not a lot of secrets out there. It’s just a matter of what you can match up with.”

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @McCulloughStar.

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