Jeff Herr, a finalist in the 2011 Big Gig Contest on 610 Sports Radio, was born and raised in Kansas City. Following the Chiefs, Royals, and Jayhawks all his life has led him to blog about all three extensively at the-jeff-report.blogspot.com. He has also spent time covering the Royals for the blog site kingsofkauffman.com as well as serving for a period as the lead editor of throughthephog.com a blog covering the Kansas Jayhawks. When not writing about the local sports scene, he pays the bills by serving as an accountant.
Jeff Herr: Looking Ahead to the Trade Deadline
by Jeff Herr,posted Jul 16 2012 6:29PM
Each day inches us closer and closer to that all important, all-exciting day that we call the “trade deadline.” It’s almost as if the day itself should come with an ominous echoing voiceover. It’s the day when a team either goes all-in or decides they are all out and it’s “sell, sell, sell.”
Occasionally, you get a team like this year’s Tampa Bay Rays in which they have been ravaged by injuries, but are still in contention and therefore could conceivably stand pat and still compete in the baseball’s second half. For the rest of the fanbases, it’s decision time.
The Royals are not immune to this scenario. Dayton Moore will no doubt be working the phones over the next two weeks and seeing what is out there and what he can get. Trading hasn’t been Moore’s strong suit in his six years with this club, but he has had a few successes. The Tim Collins trade comes to mind, as does the Zack Greinke trade that netted our shortstop of the future and possible center fielder of the future and number one starter as well.
But for each Greinke trade, there’s a Melky Cabrera trade where the return is a pitcher having one of the most awful seasons in major league history. Then again, could anyone blame him at the time? Melky was coming off his best season as a pro and regression was a near certainty. The Royals desperately needed pitching and Jonathan Sanchez is a man who started games in the World Series and once threw a no-hitter.
Talk was even that the Royals may have gotten the better end of the deal. That was short lived.
What all this past history has lead to is the Royals being back to 11 games under .500 and looking like they might be sellers come this year’s deadline.
If I put my GM cap on, I’d the say there are two players the Royals would like to move (in an ideal world). Those players would be Jeff Francoeur and/or Jonathan Broxton. Francoeur is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro in 2011 and despite his current line of .255/.294/.389 has shown some flashes of power and has gotten on some hot streaks. In the month of May he hit .321/.368/.566 with five homeruns and 12 RBIs.
Francoeur is a player that obviously can be an everyday starter, but might be best served platooning in an outfield spot. My guess is that it would take a pretty desperate team to make a move for Francoeur and even still, that team wouldn’t give up much for him. If the Royals are lucky for Francoeur they might get a really raw AA player with high upside as a reliever or maybe a middling utility player who could provide some small value in the future. Problem is, the Royals have enough of those types of players already, even if you can’t have too many prospects in baseball.
If I was a betting man, I would bet money they sit on Francoeur and his contract and let him finish out the season.
The second trade option for the Royals is a little more attractive: Jonathan Broxton. The position of closer (if you can actually call it that), is WAY overvalued in today’s MLB. A player who ONLY comes in when a team is up by three runs or less and has three outs or less to get doesn’t really provide a ton of value in the grand scheme of things. While there might be a specific skill set required of such a player, it’s still not necessarily worth what teams are giving up for it.
That said, teams continue to make big trades and give big contracts to the players they deem worth such extravagances. For a team out there with a need for a closer and in contention, Broxton could be a very valuable asset.
What’s working for the Royals in this scenario is that despite so-so numbers from Broxton, he has the all-important save statistic. Broxton has 22 saves which goes a long way towards upping his value. Despite the fact that his WHIP is 1.37, which isn’t terrible but isn’t great for a closer, and his FIP is 3.51 (very incongruous with his 2.14 ERA), he’ll still look attractive to some suitors.
What the Royals have to hope for here is that somebody is willing to overpay in order to go all in. They have to hope that somewhere out there somebody is willing to give up a major league ready starting pitcher, or a AA starter who’s close, in order to lock down the closer role for their playoff run.
If there’s value to be had in today’s MLB it’s in signing veteran players to club friendly contracts and flipping them for prospects. I always thought this was Moore’s intention with this signing, so if he can make it happen he might be able to wash the bad taste out of everyone’s mouth from the Cabrera-Sanchez trade.
Now, while these two may be the most plausible scenarios, there are additional trade options the Royals have. These are far more unlikely (and not endorsed by me) but if the Royals want to be bold, these are moves that could be made.
The first is to trade Wil Myers. Whether we want to believe it or not, he’s currently blocked by Franoeur and Lorenzo Cain in the outfield. Even though he has 28 home runs in the minor leagues, he is still blocked by a player that has and OBP below .300 and another player who has only played eight games in 2012. This is the Royals.
A Myers trade has been talked about for the last year and a half and at this point wouldn’t surprise anyone. The problem with trading Myers is going to be evaluating how much control they are giving up versus how much they are gaining. If they traded Myers for a Zack Greinke type pitcher who becomes a free agent at the end of the year, it’s a complete loss. If they were to trade for someone like Shelby Miller (not that the Cardinals would do it, but it’s just an example), then it’s a little more even as the Royals would be netting the same amount of control.
The same rules would apply for a trade involving Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler. The Royals are guaranteed six more years of Hosmer and Butler has already signed a contract and stated he wants to be here long-term. If they gave them up for a pitcher who’s only going to be in Kansas City for a year or two, then what was really gained? The answer is nothing.
The trade deadline is a fickle mistress and the Royals have not romanced her well in the past. The Royals can be bold but first and foremost that they need to be smart. Moving Francoeur, even if Moore likes him as a hunting buddy, makes sense for this team long-term. Moving Broxton might fetch value where they thought they had none. Sitting tight with their core group of young players is what Moore’s regime has been all about.
Regardless of what actually happens, one thing is clear when the trade deadline gets here, the Royals are sellers, just like they have for the past 20 years.