For the second part of my look at the trade market and how it applies to our Kansas City Royals, I will focus on pitching. The Royals are only one of 30 other teams that are looking for both starting and relief pitching. Our trade bait remains the same: DDJ, Buckner, Lubanski, Huber, Costa, Peralta, Gobble. The FA market is a little iffy, Carlos Silva for 5/55 anyone? Didn't think so. Also to make matters more complicated, what do the Royals need? Is it a front line starting pitcher (an ace) or depth in the back of the rotation? If they move Soria to the rotation, who will close? Personally, Greinke looks poised for a breakout season and maybe Hochevar can join him at the top of the rotation for the next 4 to 5 years. This would leave Meche as our #3 starter with Bannister #4 and Davies #5. However that is the rose colored glasses view, the other perspective is we have a lot of mid-range talent (#2, 3, 4 starters), but no ace. Which side will win? Only time will tell, but regardless of what happens, GMDM is going to acquire some pitching this offseason. In this article, we will look at veteran starters, and up and comers, who could make a difference.
1.) Mark Prior - 2007: Injured did not play. At this point, no word has been made if the Cubs will offer him arbitration, so he could be a FA at this writing. He presents the most upside in the trade market. His career has played out much like Chris Carpenter's, ace like potential, but he's only on the mound every other year. The Cubs have been very patient with him and I expect him to remain with the team, but if he could be had this would be worth pursuing.
2.) Rich Harden - 2007 Stats: 1-2 2.45 ERA 27 K/11BB in 25.2 IP Signed through 2008 for 4.5 mil with a 7 mil club option for 2009. Much like Prior in that he's an ace when healthy, but he so seldom is that you forget how good he can be. I could see the A's parting with him as I think they will be big sellers this winter. Drawback: Both he and Prior would come at a steep price, would it be worth it?
3.) Erwin Santana - 2007 stats: 7-14 5.75 ERA 125 K/58BB in 150 IP Under team control for 3 more years, he is the most attractive and attainable option of the three. His MLB performance has been inconsistent, but his minor league track record is solid and he could be a nice mid-rotation pitcher for years to come. The Angels also seem to have grown frustrated with the inconsistency. The Angels seem to need DH, 3B, and a little OF help, perhaps Huber and Lubanski for him?
1.) Chris Capuano - 2007 stats: 5-12 5.10 ERA 132K/54BB in 150 IP Arb eligible through 2009. He is coming off of an offseason, and seems to have fallen out of favor with the Brewers. The Royals seem to have an interest in a lefty who could be consistent and Capuano fits that profile. The Brewers desperately need relievers and defensive specialists.
2.) Noah Lowry - 2007 Stats: 14-8 3.98 ERA 87K/87BB in 150 IP. Signed through 2008 and 2009 for 6.75 mil with a club option for 2010 of 6.25 mil. He has the most upside and a successful MLB track record. Drawback: The Giants are rebuilding and will be asking a lot as he is one of their most valuable trading chips.
3.) Zach Duke - 2007 stats: 3-8 5.53 ERA 41 K/25BB in 107.1 IP. He will be under team control until 2011. The Pirates have no need to part with him and would be selling low to do so, but he might benefit from a change of scenery. His stellar rookie season has been followed by two mediocre seasons. Drawback: Our teams don't match up well due to being in very similar situations.
Up and Coming Talent:
1.) Phillip Humber (Mets)
2.) Kevin Slowey (Twins)
3.) Anthony Reyes (Cardinals)
4.) Hayden Penn (Orioles)
5.) Hong Chih Kuo (Dodgers)
Again, I tried to keep these trade possibilities as realistic as possible, so no Johan Santana to the Royals for Justin Huber, Joe Nelson and a bucket of baseballs. If only that would work! Pitching is a much more complicated issue due to our developing young talent and lack of any glaring weakness. Compound this with the fact that every major league team is looking for it, the decision making process has to be difficult for GMDM and staff. For the sake of this exercise and to simplify things, Soria will remain in the bullpen. What starter do we get? Well, it depends if you are a glass half-full or half-empty type of person.