It’s been a mixed bag of reviews from fans and analysts regarding the recent acquisition/signings of Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie.
I'll give GM Dayton Moore credit for being assertive in putting starting pitching at the top of his "to do" list this offseason. There is no doubting that Santana and Guthrie improve the 25 man roster, but just how much?
While I’m skeptical of most of Moore’s signings and trades during his tenure, there is still time to make amends from all the mishaps if he’s able to pull the trigger on a deal to make the Royals relevant again. A front line starter has been sorely needed since Zack Greinke’s departure with many hot prospects either fizzling out or landing on the shelf due to Tommy John surgery.
With the financial strain from ownership to add an A-list free agent starter, the GM will have to look to make a deal to find the piece he's looking for. Rumors have been flying regarding the Rays starters on the block. Jeremy Hellickson is not the splash Royals fans should be looking for. He's not a front of the rotation guy, unless he shows vast improvement.
Packaging Billy Butler makes sense. His stock is at an all time high and it may be the time to sell. I’d prefer them to acquire someone with a little pop to DH or form a platoon before parting ways with our beloved all-star, though. Someone like Seth Smith of the Oakland A’s comes to mind. They have a surplus of outfielders on their roster and he could probably be had for a very affordable price. Smith had a down year, but he can do damage against right handed pitchers. (.275-352-500 from 2010-2012) Jeff Francoeur will likely be back unless they eat the vast majority of his 2013 salary. This move could give him the opportunity to regain his 2011 form against left handed pitching. (In 2011 he batted .302-363-570 against lefties.) A platoon could result in a 2 + WAR in the DH slot if all goes well. Butler is coming off a career high 3.2 WAR and I’d be surprised if he has a war over 3 next season. He's a disaster on the base paths, which really trumps his value big time.
Will Dayton Moore put his neck out on the line to make a risky move involving Butler or prospects? It seems highly unlikely, but now is the time for an "all in" move to acquire a David Price or a Jordan Zimmerman type. (He's probably not available) I just prefer they keep Wil Myers out of any deal, don't you?
Santana and Guthrie should be good enough to give the club 4-5 more wins, but that won’t be enough production to get them over the hump. The passionate fan base could be a dying breed if they continue to play it safe year in and year out. Is a blockbuster deal on the horizon now? If so, adding these recent pieces make perfect sense in helping shape a balanced roster.
When will the franchises battle with futility finally come to an end? Let's hope the front office proves all us cynics wrong.