Bill Center of the San Diego-Union Tribune reports the Royals had a scout in attendance Saturday afternoon, as well as scouts from a number of other teams. While the other teams were taking a look at right-handed pitcher Edinson Volquez, Center believes the Royals were looking at either a corner outfielder or middle-infielder. Let's take a look at the possible candidates who played that day.
The Royals are well-acquainted with Quentin from his days with the White Sox, where he murdered Royals pitching for a line of .279/.385/.576 with 14 home runs in 45 career games. You want to talk about a guy that has no problems hitting the ball out of Kauffman Stadium, he has five home runs there in just 79 plate appearances. The 30 year-old Quentin is hitting .262/.364/.482 for the Padres this year. He makes $9.5 million this year, and is signed to a reasonable deal through 2015 with a mutual option (Dayton special!) for 2016 that will pay him a total of $37 million over those four years.
Quentin - a San Diego native - just signed a contract extension last summer, so the Padres may be committed to him despite the proclivity to trade expensive veterans, even hometown favorites. Quentin has a no-trade clause, but Center believes he may waive that to approve a trade to an American League club to serve as a designated hitter. However, we already have one of those.
Quentin would fit in perfectly in this offense as the big power bat they've been looking for, but his contract is probably too expensive for the team to take on, he would require too heavy a price in prospects to make sense, and would not likely approve a trade to a below .500 team where he cannot play designated hitter regularly.
Venable is an underrated left-handed hitting outfielder who has consistently put up 2 WAR the last three seasons. He can play all three outfield positions, although his defense plays best at a corner outfield position. He does not excel in any one aspect of the game, but does everything reasonably well. His plate discipline isn't great, but it isn't terrible. His power isn't great, but it isn't terrible. He can swipe some bases, but isn't Jarrod Dyson or anything. He is a terrific defender at the corner outfield spots, and a capable one in centerfield.
Will has almost a .100 point home/road split, so his hitting might improve in Kauffman Stadium as opposed to Petco Field. Venable is also a much, much better hitter against right-handers, so he may do better in a platoon situtaion. Unfortunately, the Royals don't really have many right-handed hitters for Venable to platoon with, so he may not make as much sense for the left-handed heavy Royals outfield. Venable is fairly cheap ($2.65 million salary) and isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season, so he makes some sense in that regard, but I'm not sure the team is looking to add another left-handed hitting outfielder.
Denorfia did not start the Saturday game, but he did get in two at-bats as a replacement. Denorfia is a 32 year-old right-handed hitting outfielder who has bounced around a bit but has settled in San Diego as a productive semi-regular. In four seasons with the Padres, Denofria has put up 8.2 WAR, including a 1.7 WAR season this year.
Like Venable, Denorfia does a lot of things well, but nothing great. His walk percentage is average. His power is pretty average. He can swipe some bases. He is a capable defender. Denorfia is signed to a very reasonable contract that will pay him $2 million this year and $2.25 million next year. Because of his decent production at a very low contract salary, Denorfia might require a decent, althought not elite, prospect in return.
Blanks did not appear in the Saturday game, but perhaps the Royals were scouting to see how he handled himself in the dugout. We don't want clubhouse confusion! Blanks was once a Top 100 prospect that has struggled to see the field due to injury. He had plantar fasciitis in 2009, had Tommy John surgery in 2010, and a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder in 2012. With Yonder Alonso now entrenched at first base, and Carlos Quentin in left-field, Blanks found himself the odd man out.
Injuries to the Padres roster have given Blanks a chance this year and he has responded by hitting .269/.350/.475 with 8 home runs and 25 RBI in 183 plate appearances. Blanks is a tall right-handed hitter, standing at 6'6'', with solid power and good walk rates. Despite his size, he has shown to be adept at playing the outfield, although his arm surgeries suggest perhaps right-field could be an issue. Blanks would be a terrific bat to add to the lineup, the kind of young player they should be pursuing, however his position and the prospects that will be required to get him may prevent the Royals from seeking him out.
Guzman is a right-handed hitting Venezuelan who can play all over the corners. He has played left field, right field, first base, and third base in his three Major League seasons. Originally signed by the Mariners, he has bounced aruond the league before settling with the Padres three years ago as a minor league free agent and posting a 139 OPS+ as a bench bat in 2011. He regressed a bit in 2012 and has gotten off to a poor start this year, hitting .230/.293/.361 in 134 plate appearances. Guzman displayed decent power in the minor leagues, but has just 17 home runs in 746 Major League plate appearances.
Guzman has a pretty big splits and could serve the Royals well as a lefty-masher. His .856 OPS against lefties could make him a valuable platoon partner all over the diamond. The twenty-nine year old Guzman is still cheap as he does not hit arbitration eligibilty until next season.
Forsythe is a right-handed hitter who can play all over the infield. The former first round pick broke into the big leagues in 2011 and struggled initially. He improved in 2012 and is off to a good start in 2013 with a line of .313/.365/.468 in 13 games thus far. Forsythe has pretty marginal power, but has shown a terrific ability to get on base, once drawing 102 walks in a minor league season. In 571 Major League plate appearances, he has hit .260/.327/.367. Forsythe has also been plagued by injuries, suffering as season-ending knee injury in 2011, a foot injury in 2012, and he opened this year on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis (what is it with the Padres and plantar fasciitis?).
The Padres have high draft picks Jedd Gyorko as the future at third, and Cory Spangengberg at second, as well as Everth Cabrera playing very well at shortstop. Forsythe may be the odd man out and could be a useful trade chip for the Padres. The 26 year-old may require a decent prospect, but the Royals would have his rights for at least five more seasons, and his versatility could allow him to fill in at second or third.
Alexi is a Venezuelan utility player who plays primarily infield. Originally signed by the Angels, he was dealt in 2012 in a deal involving pitcher Ernesto Frieri. Amarista is a left-handed bat with very little power, shows very little plate discipline, and despite high stolen base totals in the minors, also has very high caught-stealing numbers. His great value seems to be in his ability to play all over the field, but the Royals already have a player like that - Elliot Johnson.
Ciricao was just acquired by the Padres a few days ago from the Red Sox in a minor trade. He's a twenty-seven year old journey man utility infielder, and not likely to be the focus of the Royals attention.
Do you like grit? Veteran leadership? What better way to turn this boat around than with a 37 year-old captain? Kotsay is in his seventeenth big league season (and he's an ex-Brave, albeit briefly, and after Dayton was already in KC). He hasn't really been a regular since George W. Bush was in office, and has struggled to hit much this year, posting a .225/.271/.288 in 85 plate appearances.
But stats don't measure everything. Just think of the guidance Kotsay could provide this young team! He has post-season experience, with 26 career games in October. I have little doubt in my mind this is the player the Royals have been targeting.