The Royals sure were attached to more than their usual fair share of trade rumors, but in the end the team did nothing at the deadline, content with the acquisitions of Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Raul Ibanez, and Erik Kratz as their mid-season pickups, with rumors they may scour the remains of those that clear the waiver wire in August. Dayton Moore sounded almost surprised that the market had shifted to the point where teams wanted Major League players - not prospects - in return for top shelf talent.
Could he have matched or exceeded any of the deals offered? Let's take a look at some of the deals that made sense for the Royals and see if they could have been in the ballpark.
Royals match: Royals acquire LHP Jon Lester, OF Jonny Gomes and cash considerations from the Red Sox for OF Alex Gordon and LHP Sean Manaea
The Royals could have upgraded their rotation over Jeremy Guthrie by adding the excellent Jon Lester as well as added the right-handed bat they coveted in Gomes, but it would have come at a steep price. Like Cespedes, Gordon is an All-Star outfielder with a terrific arm who can be a free agent after 2015. The Royals do not have a competitive balance pick, but they could deal Manaea, who was selected with their competitive balance pick in 2012 (or Hunter Dozier, who was really a 30th-40th overall talent, but was over-selected because of signability). The loss of Gordon would have been huge, but Gomes could have platooned in left-field with Jarrod Dyson to mitigate at least the offensive loss somewhat. Still, that would be a pretty high price for two months of Lester for a team that is 3.5 games back in the Wild Card race.
Red Sox acquire OF Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance draft pick from the Athletics or LHP Jon Lester, OF Jonny Gomes, and cash considerations
Royals match: Royals acquire OF Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance draft pick from the Athletics for RHP James Shields, OF Nori Aoki, and cash considerations
I'm not convinced this is much of a match as Lester has been much, much better than Shields. It is not like Oakland had a gaping hole in its rotation to be filled by anyone, its very likely they only sought a pitcher that could serve as a big upgrade, and Lester fits that bill while I am not certain Shields does. Still, perhaps if the Royals had thrown in another long-term prospect, it might have made sense for the A's. Nori Aoki, as bad as he has been, is almost as good as Jonny Gomes and projects to be better than Gomes going forward. Giving up Shields in return for Cespedes and a draft pick would be a clear sign the Royals were punting 2014 in favor of 2015.
Royals match: Royals acquire LHP David Price in a three-team trade with the Mariners and Rays for OF Lorenzo Cain, LHP Danny Duffy, and OF Elier Hernandez
Price would have been quite the exciting haul, although it would have cost you two significant components of your existing Major League team. Cain has been much more valuable than Jackson this year and is under team control for longer, but Jackson does hit for more power historically which may be what Seattle was looking for. Duffy has had a better season than Smyly, but is due to regress, and by FIP and WAR, the two pitchers are very comparable this season. The Royals don't really have anyone as young as Adames excelling in A ball like he is. Elier Hernandez is 19 and at A ball Lexington and was signed to a lot of fanfare as an expensive international free agent, but has been a bit underwhelming thus far.
The Royals could have had Dyson fill in for Cain in centerfield, and Price would replace Duffy in the rotation and the 2014 team probably improves with Price still under control for 2015. The big consideration then is how do you fit Price's $17-20 million salary next year into this 2015 payroll?
Royals match: Royals acquire OF Jake Marisnick, 3B Colin Moran, and RHP Francis Martes from the Marlins for P Danny Duffy, OF Whit Merrifield, and IF Cheslor Cuthbert
I don't really think that's a very good comparison to what the Astros gave up for the minor leaguers. Wates is 25 and in AAA like Merrifield, but he has much better proven on-base skills. Hernandez is 22 and already in the big leagues as a utility player, Cuthbert is still in AA. Still, I think Duffy is more valuable than former Top 100 prospect Jarred Cosart, who has shown a lack of an ability to strike Major League hitters out. It may not be a great comp, but its in the ballpark and could have landed the Royals an outfielder and third baseman of the future.
Twins acquire LHP Tommy Milone from the Athletics for OF Sam Fuld
Royals match: Royals acquire LHP Tommy Milone from the Athletics for OF Jarrod Dyson
Dyson is a better player than Fuld, but both utilize their legs to maximize value and get on-base at a very good rate. This could be one of those situations where the Athletics knew Fuld since he was on the team before, liked what he brought to the clubhouse, liked the fact he runs through walls for the team, and specifically wanted the gritty gamer from nearby Stanford University, and would accept substitute. Still, the Royals should have at least tried to match with Dyson, especially if they were not going to use him effectively as Tyler Drenon wrote they should. Kevin Ruprecht wrote a bit about how Milone would be a nice fit for the Royals as a cheap, long-term upgrade over Jeremy Guthrie. Making such a move wouldn't have hurt the 2014 club too much, and would have upgraded the pitching staff now and in the long-term.