Some men know how to master the art of the deal. It remains to be seen whether Dayton is one of those men. While his draft strategy has earned high plaudits, and his free agent track record has earned him questions as to whether he is high, his trading history is a mixed bag. He really doesn't have any stinkers on his resume (Jorge de la Rosa and JP Howell being the best players he has dealt, and neither showed much promise in Kansas City), but he has yet to really net a solid contributor in return (Alberto Callaspo and Ramon Ramirez being his best acquisitions). Some of that of course, has to do with a poor bag of wares to sell from. Let's take a look back at Dayton's dealings in the month of July.
Dayton walked onto the job about a month before the trading deadline, and took that time to evaluate a laughable roster full of has-beens and never-weres. In mid-July, with his evaluation complete, he took to the phones....TO RESCUE THIS FRANCHISE!
Dayton made his first trade back in June, swapping pitcher JP Howell to the Rays for outfielder Joey Gathright and infielder Fernando Cortez. Howell had been a first-round pick, but Gathright was like, really, really fast, and therefore valuable. On July 17, Dayton sent second baseman Ruben Gotay to the Mets for minor league utility infielder Jeff Keppinger. It was a deal many criticized for sending a talented and still young player out of town, but since then Keppinger has actually proved to be the more valuable player - although we didn't find that out until Dayton had shipped Keppinger out of town.
The Yankees called about 38 year old veteran outfielder Reggie Sanders, but the Royals couldn't pull the trigger on a trade fast enough before the gimpy Sanders landed on the disabled list in mid-July. The Royals had been asking for top prospects such as Melky Cabrera or Phil Hughes, but after much laughter from Yankees brass began to drop their expectations to lesser prospects like Tyler Clippard, Jeff Karstens, Stephen White, Jeff Kennard and T.J. Beam.
Royals fans were encouraged on July 24 when Dayton traded former All-Star closer Mike MacDougal to the White Sox in exchange for minor league pitchers Dan Cortes and Tyler Lumsden. MacDougal had electric stuff and a team-friendly contract, but had poor command, and most Royals fans realized the unimportance of having a closer on a team going nowhere. Cortes and Lumsden seemed like live projectable arms for the future.
A day later, Dayton pleased fans again by swapping swingman Elmer Dessens - who had only spent a few months with the club - for veteran left-hander Odalis Perez and two minor league pitchers, Julio Pimentel and Blake Johnson. Even more encouraging was that the Royals were willing to take on some of Odalis' large contract and use that as leverage to gain two prospects in the trade. The future with this Dayton guy seemed bright.
That trade overshadowed a deal that involved what would turn into a more valuable player, when the Royals acquired left-handed pitcher Jorge de la Rosa from the Brewers for utility infielder Tony Graffanino. The 25 year old De la Rosa would struggle in two seasons in Kansas City before becoming a valuable pitcher in Colorado.
To conclude the flurry of moves that month, the Royals won a bidding war for first baseman Ryan Shealy, beating out the Red Sox (who offered Abe Alvarez), Orioles (who balked at offering Hayden Penn) and the Cubs (who offered David Aardsma). The Royals were able to land Shealy and reliever Scott Dohmann for talented but inconsistent left-handed pitcher Jeremy Affeldt and talented but inconsistent right-handed pitcher Denny Bautista.
Dayton went into the 2007 trade market without a lot bullets in his holster, having tried to send reliever Leo Nunez to the Athletics for malcontent outfielder Milton Bradley, only to have Bradley conjure an injury to avoid having to come to Kansas City. Nonetheless, Dayton made lemons out of lemonade when he sent out non-prospect Daniel Christensen to the Tigers for reliever Roman Colon. Royals fans shrugged their shoulders.
The internet was abuzz after a FedEx delivery man was seen hauling things away from the home of Royals outfielder Reggie Sanders. In a sign of the times, it was all ado about nothing as no one was willing to trade for Sanders. The Royals also tried to trade vets like outfielder Emil Brown and second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, but found little interest.
Dayton did have one attractive chip in closer Octavio Dotel, who had just signed with the club the previous winter. The Royals were asking for MLB-ready players, preferably for up-the-middle positions or pitching. The Dodgers appeared the be the front-runners at first, having two MLB-ready infielders in Tony Abreu and Chin Lung Hu (some reports had the Royals initially asking for outfielder Matt Kemp or first baseman James Loney. Hilarity ensued.) Dodgers reliever Jonathan Meloan was also involved in discussions. The Indians then entered discussions with the Royals asking for outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, but talks moved instead to outfielder Ben Francisco.
Jayson Stark reported the Red Sox may have offered outfielder David Murphy, but there appear to be no corroborating reports. One rumor even had Dotel packaged with Sanders to the Red Sox in a three way deal that eventually netted the Royals slugger Wily Mo Pena. The Yankees, Brewers, Cubs, and Rockies were all said to have interest in Dotel as well.
The Mariners emerged as a candidate for Dotel when reports surfaced they offered outfielder Wladimir Balentien. The Braves became a last-minute contestant and the eventual winning bidder, offering out-of-options pitcher Kyle Davies, a pitcher Moore had been familiar with in his previous job.
Zack Greinke - who had become a reliever in his comeback from anxiety issues - had drawn a lot of interest from the Diamondbacks, Braves, Cubs and Dodgers, but no reports of serious trade talks surfaced. Relievers David Riske and Jimmy Gobble also drew minimal trade interest.
This was a quiet deadline for the Royals, who ultimately made no July trades. Their only summer move would be an August trade of Horacio Ramirez to the White Sox for minor league outfielder Paulo Orlando. The lack of movement was not from a lack of trying however.
Jose Guillen - just signed to a three-year contract the previous winter - was already becoming a headache, fueling trade speculation. The Braves were said to be interested until the Royals asked for outfielder Gorkys Hernandez. It appeared as if the Royals were asking for too much for Guillen, who had just been on the All-Star final roster spot ballot.
There were some reports of the Yankees interest in pitcher Brian Bannister with highly-touted young outfielder Melky Cabrera once again rumored to be coming to Kansas City.
Early reports had Royals left-hander Ron Mahay being unavailable despite interest from the Cardinals and Red Sox. Interest became so strong however, reports surfaced close to the deadline that the Royals were asking for Phillies minor league shortstop Jason Donald in exchange for the lefty reliever. The Red Sox also continued to have interest up to the deadline, but the Royals ultimately held onto Mahay.
The Royals aggressively shopped catcher Miguel Olivo - who they had just signed as a free agent. The Yankees were said to be interested, but nothing seemed to materialize. Mark Grudzielanek was also aggressively shopped, but Dayton found little interest.
The Cubs asked about outfielder David DeJesus, but the asking price was justifiably high. The Zack Greinke-to-the-Rangers trade rumors began in 2008 once Greinke rebounded with a solid season. One report had the Rangers inquiring about the availability of Greinke.
Dayton pulled the trigger early on deadline dealing on July 10, stunning many Royals fans by acquiring malcontent shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt from the Mariners for minor league pitchers Dan Cortes and Derrick Saito. While many were simply glad to no longer have to endure Tony Pena Jr. at shortstop, the thought of Betancourt manning the position did not bring many to joyous cheers.
Brian Bannister drew a fair amount of trade interest with talks surrounding Brewers minor league outfielder Lorenzo Cain. The Marlins and Yankees were also interested in the young, cheap pitcher, but the Royals asking price was said to be too high.
The Royals did acquire outfielder Josh Anderson. So there's that.
David DeJesus was the hot commodity in the middle of a career season with a club-friendly option for 2011. The Royals were said to be asking for "a major league-ready prospect, along with at least one midlevel prospect or a pair of lower-level players." The Red Sox seemed to be the most active suitor, with names such as outfielder Josh Reddick, outfielder Ryan Kalish and pitcher Felix Doubront reportedly discussed and one report even linking sure-handed shortstop Jose Iglesias to a possible deal.
The Braves, Giants, Padres and Rays also expressed interest in DeJesus. The Royals even scouted left-handed pitcher Jake McGee in preparation for talks with the Rays. Unfortunately, the outfielder suffered an injury crashing into the wall in late July, and was not dealt until the next off-season.
On July 22, the Royals shipped infielder Alberto Callaspo to the Angels for pitchers Sean O'Sullivan and Will Smith. The Royals had previously rejected a deal for O'Sullivan and a "fringe prospect."
There was some discussion regarding closer Joakim Soria as it was revealed he had six teams - including the Yankees - on his "no-trade" list. Some reports had the Yankees making a "big proposal" for Soria that may have included catching prospect Jesus Montero. Ultimately, the Royals held onto Soria.
The Royals and Mets were engaged in some pretty interesting talks that involved the swapping of bad contracts. The Royals had pitcher Gil Meche, outfielder Jose Guillen and pitcher Kyle Farnsworth they were looking to dump while the Mets had second baseman Luis Castillo, outfielder Jeff Francoeur and pitcher Oliver Perez. The Mets tried to entice the Royals with a Meche-for-Perez deal (that would have required Meche waiving his no-trade clause), but the Royals did not bite. The Royals were reported to "like" Franceour, a report that turned out to be all too true. Although the talks were truly a meeting of two of the most cunning minds in baseball at work - Dayton Moore and Mets General Manager Omar Minaya - a deal was never struck. Meche went on the disabled list for good in late July and was no longer a trade candidate.
A few days before the deadline, Dayton shipped speedy outfielder Scott Podsednik to the Dodgers for catcher Lucas May and pitcher Elisaul Pimentel in a deal that took 24 hours from the time the Dodgers first contacted the Royals. Podsednik had drawn interest from the Padres and Giants as well.
In a deal that seemed a bit out of the blue, the Royals were able to package together two players they didn't really want - outfielder Rick Ankiel and pitcher Kyle Farnsworth - in exchange for three fringe minor leaguers - outfielder Gregor Blanco, pitcher Jesse Chavez and pitcher Tim Collins.
The Royals also shopped pitcher Bruce Chen and Kyle Davies, but found little interest. The Giants pursued outfielder Jose Guillen for several weeks but a deal was not made by the deadline. Instead, Guillen cleared waivers and was deal in August to San Francisco for pitcher Kevin Pucetas.
The Padres, Phillies, Yankees and Angels all looked into acquiring Willie Bloomquist, but the utility infielder was not dealt until after the deadline, as a cash deal with Cincinnati.
Dayton has been fairly aggressive at the trading deadline, generally looking to trade players with expiring contracts as most would expect from a small-market, perennially non-contending team like the Royals. He seems to insist upon "Major League-ready talent" quite a bit which probably puts a lower ceiling on the talent he receives in these deals. He seems to have his favorites - players he has great interest in over many seasons, that he eventually finds a way to acquire - Melky Cabrera, Jeff Franceour and Lorenzo Cain seem to be evidence of that. And of course, he does appear to trade a lot with the Braves. Memes have a kernel of truth in them my internet friends.
Dayton seems to begin many of his negotiations from a ridiculously high bargaining position. This can good and bad. It can be good because you never know if you can get a lopsided deal unless you ask. Starting from a high position can better increase your chances of getting a great return if the asset you hold is greatly desired. On the other hand, starting from a high position can deter talks, as other may find you are difficult to deal with. It can also leave you with no deal at all if you overrate the value of your asset in the market.
It remains to be seen what deals Dayton makes this year, but it is likely to be a crucial July for Dayton. He has now been on the job for five years and the fruits of his drafts are reaching the Major Leagues. He is running out of excuses and will need to start showing results or else his "Process" will be relegated to the dustbin of Royals history along with Allard Baird's "Plan."