Gazing into nowhere. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
The trade market has officially lit itself on fire over the past couple of days. We have seen Ichiro go to the Yankees, Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers, Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers and Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates. All that, and we are still a week away from the trade deadline.
Big names remain on the market as well. Zack Greinke, Josh Johnson, Hunter Pence, Matt Garza and, of course, the Royals' power quartet of Francoeur, Broxton, Betancourt and Mijares. What percentage of GM's currently answer their phones when Dayton Moore comes up on the called ID? Knowing what Moore is trying to market and knowing that he expects to get 'major league talent' in return, I have to believe a number of Moore's counterparts simply don't have the time to waste talking to the Royals.
Given that Kansas City has driven itself out of on field relevance once more, this time of year is always fun for me. I think the majority here enjoy the rumors and speculation as well. Sure, we scoff, chuckle and even get downright annoyed by the casual fan who lumps five players of zero value together and proposes to trade them for Roy Halladay. Some become irritated by trade speculation and immediately discount any rumor. My favorite comment of several years back (on a different site) was a rant that was centered around MLBTradeRumorsbeing a site that just 'spread rumors'.
Anyway, let's speculate a little this morning.
I'm not sure Wandy Rodriguez was ever really a target of Dayton Moore, but he was up for discussion as a possible Royal in many a mother's basement over the past year. The Pirates, gave up three of their pre-season top thirty (Baseball America rankings) prospects to get Wandy: Robbie Grossman (OF #8), Colton Cain (LHP-#13), Rudy Owens (LHP #16). They also, however, will get as much as $17.7 million from Houston over the next three years to help defray some of Rodriguez's salary.
The Pirates have a decent system (not the Best Ever - that one was for you, Will), but decent. If you were Dayton Moore, would you have parted with Chris Dwyer, Jorge Bonifacio and Will Smith to get the 33 year old Rodriguez for the next two and one-half years for basically $5 million of your own money per year? What if the Royals had to sub in Jason Adam instead of Smith? Gotta be honest, here, I would be pretty tempted (especially if Adam was not part of the deal).
How about the Ramirez trade?
Let me start off by saying that the Royals probably can't and almost certainly should not pay $15 million per year for a position player. Not right now and not with a shambilized starting rotation and one, ONE, currently legitimate pitching prospect close to the majors in the entire system. Particularly given that the Royals would be asking Ramirez to change positions (to second) once again.
However, the price for Ramirez was basically the equivalent of Jake Odorizzi and paying Hanley's salary. I think it was a tremendous move by the Dodgers, who have both pitching and money to burn.
Those are kind of fun things to kick around, but realistically not relevant to any probably moves the Royals might try to make. Instead, we are forced to watch our general manager try to extract Major League Talent in exchange for an iffy closer, a horrifically overpriced rightfielder and a middle infielder will fall-down range. I am not convinced that is realistic, nor do I believe it is the correct approach.
The Royals have a ready made replacement for Francoeur in Wil Myers (I mean, what's the worst that can happen? Myers comes up and posts an OPS+ of 77?). They might want to game Myers' service time, but it would be counter to every move they made last season with their young players. We know that David Glass does not like eating salary, so Moore is pretty much going to have to give Francoeur away. If the return was some other organization's 'Tim Melville' wouldn't that be good enough?
Unless there is a general manager out there that just reads the statistical leaderboards in his morning paper and bases his decisions on that, Moore is going to have an equally hard time getting Major League Talent for Jonathan Broxton. Brett Myers costs a lot more money, but the White Sox gave up little value to get him. It would seem to me that a more logical expectation would be similar to what the Orioles got for George Sherrill several years back (Josh Bell, a top ten prospect of the Dodgers, who was in the process of flaming out in AAA).
Forgive me if the tone of this column carries a good deal of frustration, but I can already hear the 'we simply did not get an offer of enough value to move Jonathan or Jeff or Yuni' press release. That is the same line we were given when Ron Mahay was not moved several years back, only to have Mahay come completely apart as a baseball pitcher two weeks after the deadline.
The hard truth is that one could remove the power quartet from the Royals' roster, replace them with basically anyone on the Omaha roster and likely be no worse a baseball team than they are now. Myers for Francoeur, Falu for Betancourt, Holland or Crow in place of Broxton, someone for Mijares (he might actually be the hardest to replace - who'd of thunk it?).
If the net result of removing those four players to your major league team is at worst a wash, then why demand Major League Talent in return? I would be delighted to get a one-time prospect who has lost his luster (what's better than one Mike Montgomery? Two, of course!), some organization's second base equivalent to Clint Robinson and two A-ball flyers in exchange for four players who do not figure into the Royals' future.