The Royals plan to spend less in 2011

Bob Dutton wrote his annual looking to next year article today. It was a mix of comments from Dayton Moore, Ned Yost and speculation from Dutton. There were some interesting highlights including cutting payroll, not repeating mistakes (maybe) and Ned Yost understanding the marginal value of a win. So let's cut it up and see what's inside.

"We will continue to try to put the best team, the most competitive team, we can on the field going forward in 2011," general manager Dayton Moore said. "But at the same time, we will not do anything to restrict the advancement of our young players to the major leagues."

Ok, that sounds like what Moore says for every offseason. They are going to try to win as many games as they can, but not trade or rush prospects.

"It [the payroll] is going to be down," Moore confirmed, "because there’s no need to spend just to spend. But we will weigh any deal that puts us in a good position for the long term even if it requires us to take on some salary."

Moore plays his cards close to the vest, but at least there's a real, concrete piece of information here. The payroll is going to drop. This leads Dutton to jump to the conclusion that Moore won't be repeating Ankiel and Farnsworth-like mistakes.

The days of shelling out millions to retread veterans for stopgap purposes appear over. No more Rick Ankiels or Kyle Farnsworths. Club officials, in fact, expect the payroll to drop into the low $60 million range from its current $70 million-plus.

So, no retread stopgaps? Or just less expensive retread stopgaps? I'm skeptical. And that low $60 million figure is interesting (BTW, that comes from anonymous "club officials" and not from Dayton Moore). Here's a quick snapshot of a partial 2011 payroll, which includes arbitration estimates.

2011 est.
Gil Meche 12
Zack Greinke 13.5
David DeJesus 6
Yuniesky Betancourt 3
Joakim Soria 4
Brian Bannister 4
Jason Kendall 3.75
Kyle Davies 3
Luke Hochevar 3.5
Noel Arguelles 1.38
Alex Gordon 2.25
Robinson Tejeda 1.75
Aaron Crow 1
Billy Butler 5
Mike Aviles 0.45
Brayan Pena 0.75
Josh Fields 0.5
Chris Getz 0.43
Dusty Hughes 0.41
Mitch Maier 0.41
whoever 0.4
whoever 0.4
whoever 0.4
whoever 0.4
whoever 0.4
Juan Cruz 0.5
TOTAL 69.58

In order to get payroll down to the low 60's, the Royals would have to either trade away a big contract for cheap players or non-tender multiple arbitration-eligible players like Bannister, Davies and Tejeda. Is that the plan? FWIW, if the Royals get rid of Banny, Davies and Pena and replace them all with league minimum players, the payroll would be about $63 million. Ned Yost appears to back up the idea that the Royals won't and shouldn't be spending much right now.

"We can go out and spend $10 million-$15 million and for what?" manager Ned Yost asked. "To get us to 70 wins? Or 75 wins? If it gets us from 70 wins to 80 wins, what does that do for you? Momentum? Forget momentum. I’d rather save that money. And when we get to the point where we can win 82 games on our own, then spend that money and go from 82 to 92. We do that, and chances are, we’re going to be contending for the division."

Wow. That does not sound like someone in the KC Royals organization. He's right. It really doesn't make sense to spend millions just to add a few wins to a losing season. This is basically diametrically opposed to the philosophy which has governed Dayton Moore's offseason spending throughout his Royals tenure. Has Dayton really changed his mind, or is something else going on? Other highlights:

  • The Royals will listen to trade offers for Greinke but they'd need to be blown away, so he's unlikely to be traded anytime soon. Maybe at the deadline or next offseason. (according to an anonymous club official)
  • Without citing even an anonymous source, Dutton says that Kyle Davies should return. That might just be Dutton's speculation. It's hard to see how the Royals get the payroll to the low 60's with Davies on the roster.
  • Bannister likely to be traded or non-tendered.
  • The Royals won't even consider trading Soria. [That is really, really stupid.]
  • Dutton speculates that the Royals will look to acquire a cheap veteran catcher.
  • Butler and Ka'aihue likely to split time at 1B/DH.
  • Yuni set for another year at shorstop.
  • Royals would like to have Getz at 2B and Aviles at 3B until Moustakas is ready, but Getz's position is not secure. If Getz doesn't improve, Betemit or Getz could play 3B with Aviles at 2B.
  • Royals prefer Betemit as a utility player since his defense is horrendous.
  • Royals could trade DeJesus this offseason, or just play him in RF until they probably trade him in July.
  • Royals committed to Gordon as the LFer.
  • Dutton appears to think that Dyson is the favorite for the starting CF job with Blanco and Maier as reserve OFers, but the situation is fluid.

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