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The Off-Season

When I started this blog, I wanted to be sure that I wrote something every weekday and maybe periodically on the weekend. As much as I’m captivated by the playoffs right now, this is still ultimately a Royals blog. I don’t want to make the focus too national even if it is for only a month. So I struggled with what to write today. I thought I’d write what I’d like the Royals to do this off-season…realistically. My dream off-season is for the Royals to sign Werth and Lee and figure out a way to trade for Hanley Ramirez without giving up much. Okay, only the Werth and Lee things actually could happen, but that’s my dream, not reality.

Anyway, the Royals are in a bit of an awkward position this winter in that they have their fair share of holes, but don’t want to and shouldn’t fill them with long term free agents because of the crop of players coming through the system. Yes, some of those prospects will certainly fail, but you can’t be signing mediocre veterans to two or three year deals when we haven’t found out yet if the prospects will fail.

So what to do? Well there are a couple of options. The first is to go the route that Dayton went this past off-season and sign guys to one-year deals and then hopefully be able to flip them. The only guy he signed for more than one year this past off-season was Jason Kendall and while I disagreed with who the signing was, there wasn’t a catching prospect closer than two years away. It wasn’t the deal I minded with Kendall, it was who the deal locked the Royals into. The other option is just to let the kids play. By that, I don’t mean bring them all up and throw them into the fire in April, but see what you have in guys who may be able to serve as role players in the future. You might get lucky like the Brewers did with Casey McGehee and find a player who can be a valuable piece in the lineup.

Because I love sitting on a fence, I think a combination of those two things is the way to go. I’m becoming more and more of a fan of Jarrod Dyson, but I’m not opposed to signing an upgrade while he’s given a little time at AAA. The man’s 26, but he’s only logged about 330 minor league games, which is not much for a raw baseball talent like Dyson. The caveat to this being that I wouldn’t spend much money. For example, I’d bring Crisp back, but not for much money. He had a good year for the A’s when healthy, so he’s probably priced out of the range, but I’d go $3 million for him with an option for $5 million or something like that.

The rest of the free agent work I’d do would come on the pitching side of the ball. Right now, the rotation looks like it’ll definitely include Greinke and Hochevar and will probably include Davies. O’Sullivan looks pretty likely, but I wouldn’t be heartbroken if he wasn’t there. Chen might get re-signed, which I’d be okay with for cheap enough. No more than $2 million. There’s just not a whole lot out there other than Chen who would be cheap enough to fit what I’d be willing to do. Jake Westbrook would be a nice addition, but he’ll be too expensive. The only other name I’d be interested in taking a look at would be Hiroki Kuroda. He’s been awfully good for the Dodgers and his K rate has improved each season he’s been in the U.S. He’s coming off a huge contract, though, and probably wouldn’t be too keen on playing in either the midwest or for a losing team.

Rather than go the free agent route, the Royals do have a couple of players who could fill their rotation needs and don’t fall into the category of top prospects. Everett Teaford is a lefty (surprise!) who came on last season after a tweak in his delivery with a couple extra mph added to his fastball and blossomed as a starter. I’d love to see him given a chance. The other spot can be filled with a guy like O’Sullivan or Humber (a guy I like…maybe irrationally). The only prospect I’d even consider for the rotation out of spring training would be Duffy, but I’d much prefer him get some time in Omaha before making it to the big leagues.

In the bullpen, I’d like to see what the current crew can do. It’s not going to be long before help arrives in the form of the minor leagues, so with the exception of a couple of minor league deals I don’t want free agency to be touched here.

Knowing what we know (no trades), here’s how I’d like the roster to shape up next spring, using some realism such as Betancourt remaining on the roster:

Catcher
Lucas May
Brayan Pena

Infield
Mike Aviles
Yuniesky Betancourt
Wilson Betemit
Billy Butler*
Chris Getz (with the caveat that he learns to play outfield this winter)
Kila Ka’aihue
Ed Lucas

Outfield
Gregor Blanco
Coco Crisp
David DeJesus
Alex Gordon

Starting Pitching
Bruce Chen
Kyle Davies
Zack Greinke
Luke Hochevar
Everett Teaford

Relievers
Randy Choate
Greg Holland
Gil Meche
Joakim Soria
Hisanori Takahashi
Robinson Tejeda
Kanekoa Texeira

*It’s weird to me that the Royals starting infield can include Butler as the lowest alphabetically. I’m a word nerd.

So that’s what I’d like to see with the information we know right now. One signing on the offensive side of the ball and two relievers. We’ll see how it plays out, but that team would at least be fun to watch with the young guys coming up to supplement throughout the season.  

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