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Royals Review Mailbag: Before free agency hits

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Eric Hosmer is still a Royal.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Kansas City Royals Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images

Things are a bit slow right now, with the World Series going on and MLB prohibiting teams from making big announcements on gamedays. But, the longer this World Series goes on, the longer free agency is delayed, which mean Eric Hosmer will technically still be a Royal for longer!

Let’s open a mailbag. What’s on your mind?

So the Royals denied the Braves permission to talk to Dayton Moore, but Atlanta beat writer David O’Brien raised the possibility that the two sides may just be talking compensation for Moore leaving. There isn’t much precedent for a GM getting traded that I know of. The Red Sox traded Theo Epstein for Chris Carpenter (not that one), and Aaron Kurcz, the 20th-ranked prospect in the Cubs system according to Minor League Ball. Boston’s leverage may have been undercut a bit by Epstein essentially quitting and wanting out of Boston, a scenario hard to imagine with Dayton Moore.

Managers have been dealt before, although not for great prospects. The Marlins gave up Ossie Martinez and Jhan Marinez for Ozzie Guillen - Martinez had been ranked the #5 prospect in the Marlins system the previous year. The Rays gave up Randy Winn for Lou Piniella, a solid, but unspectacular regular. The last managerial trade before that was Chuck Tanner from the A’s to the Pirates in 1976.

Perhaps the Royals are trying to get compensation for Moore, but I wouldn’t count on much. There is still the issue of John Hart being in Atlanta, a sticking point for Moore, and I suspect Dayton still has a lot of loyalty to the Royals. I think it is much more likely that Dayton Moore is the General Manager of the Kansas City Royals next year.

The Royals will probably have a rotation of Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jakob Junis, Jason Hammel, and Nate Karns next year, but will likely need some more arms for depth, otherwise you may see Onelki Garcia back on the hill. I believe the Royals should rebuild next year, and using Shaun Newkirk’s principles of rebuilding, the team should look for younger guys, and former prospects. Looking at this year’s list of free agents, the under-30 crowd that the Royals could afford would include Tyler Chatwood, Nathan Eovaldi (if his club option is declined), David Holmberg, Drew Hutchison, Jordan Lyles, Miles Mikolas, Wily Peralta, and Asher Wojciechowski.

Drew Hutchison is still quite young (27) and was decent in AAA last year but never got the call for the Pirates. He has missed bats in the past and his ERA looks to be a bit inflated, so he might be worth a flyer. Tyler Chatwood is interesting as a guy that gets groundballs, which might be the change of pace the Royals need from their flyball ways in 2017. Wily Peralta was a 2.7 WAR pitcher in 2014, but has had trouble throwing strikes since then.

Michael Pineda might be an interesting case too. He is just 28 and will be out all next year with Tommy John surgery. But if he wants some guaranteed money, the Royals could afford to let him sit next year with the hope of returning in 2019. Pineda has a ton of talent, and would be the perfect “buy low, sell high” candidate for a rebuilding team.

Also keep your eye on non-tenders in December. They can often come very cheap, and since they are usually players with red flags, contending teams will want to stay away. Mike Fiers, Tom Koehler, A.J. Griffin, and Drew Smyly (out for the first half of next year) could all be non-tender candidates. I’ve been a big fan of Griffin for awhile (look at that hair!), if he becomes available he might be worth a flyer.

I have seen some calls for a reunion for Jarrod Dyson, and while he may be one of my favorite players in recent history, I just don’t see it. Sure, the Royals need a centerfielder, particularly on the cheap, but Dyson will be 34 next August, and speed doesn’t age particularly well. If they do bring someone in, it should be with the idea of flipping them at the deadline in mind, and I’m not sure Dyson is the kind of guy that nets you much in July. If he is at the right price, I wouldn’t object, but the club should probably be looking for the next Dyson.

And the Alex Gordon contract!

I could be wrong, but I think most mainstream fans have made peace with the core group leaving. First of all, we’re used to big name players leaving - when a guy like Alex Gordon stays, it is surprising. But I also think the fact Alex Gordon stayed - and it didn’t really work out - may give some fans pause in extending players past their prime. Winning a championship also soothes any ill will.

But as I suggested in my piece, I think it is one thing to imagine Eric Hosmer in a Red Sox uniform, but what happens when you actually see it? I mean, some people still booed Jamaal Charles last night, even though he wanted to stay in Kansas City. I imagine there will be some ill will among some fans for players leaving here, but most fans will simply applaud them for giving us the most unbelievable moments in a generation.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Bubba Starling is coming off a season in which he got hot enough to warrant “Bubba Starling is turning the corner” articles, but overall had a disappointing batting line. Bubba got off to a dreadful start - he hit .129 in April - but did hit .288/.335/.443 after May 2, which isn’t super great, but certainly isn’t terrible either. He went down in August with an oblique injury, missing the rest of the season, leaving him an overall line of .248/.303/.381 with 7 HR in 80 games, still pretty underwhelming numbers.

There always seems to be just enough life in Bubba’s hitting to give fans and scouts hope he can turn things around, and with the club possibly going into rebuild mode, it may be time to just throw Bubba out there to sink or swim. The Royals have no real obvious replacement for Lorenzo Cain if he departs, so I could see the club going with Bubba and maybe Billy Burns to handle centerfield duties next year. Bubba’s defense could at least be a big plus, and he did cut down on his strikeout rate to 21% last year. He is now 25 - just six months younger than Jorge Soler - so it is pretty much put up or shut up time for him. There have been talented players before who took awhile to put up numbers, so I wouldn’t give up on Bubba, but this year could be his last chance.

I mean, they made one for Tony Pena, Jr. and Drew Butera, so the bar ain’t exactly high. I can see them doing one for Jorge Bonifacio, Jakob Junis, Kelvin Herrera, Jorge Soler, or Raúl Mondesí. Bobblehead worthiness is really set more by fan popularity than WAR. And when times are lean, the marketing department has to be a bit creative. So look for a Billy Burns/Rally Mantis bobblehead in 2018.

Interesting question. I’m not sure Statcast is used to evaluate overall quality of players, it seems to be used more to determine how players are playing, or just impress fans with cool stats. But advanced metrics do seem to be used more in determining hardware. The Gold Glove Award actually incorporates the SABR Defensive Index, an opaque metric I’m not all that familiar with, but one that is supposed to keep us from having guys like Rafael Palmeiro win the award at first base despite spending just a handful of games there. Nonetheless, Ben Zobrist is a finalist, despite just playing 65 games at second base, and being a much inferior defender at the position to his own teammate, Javier Baez.

There is a part of me that fears the MVP award will simply become a “WAR champion” award. I don’t know why I fear that, I guess it takes the mystery and narrative out of it, which could be a good thing, but I suppose I don’t see the point of an MVP if it just goes to the WAR leader every year. There is still some weirdness with defensive metrics too, particularly in samples less than a full season. Do you really think David Lough was the best American League Rookie in 2013 because he led rookies in WAR?

Still, I’m much more thankful that advanced metrics are being used now. I don’t think Lorenzo Cain gets recognized in MVP voting in 2015 without it. I’m not sure Zack Greinke wins his Cy Young in 2009 without it. And when you look at all the ridiculous votes in the 1980s - a guy named Willie Hernandez won it once because he had a lot of saves for the best team in baseball - today’s voters are doing a much better job.