Much of the baseball world is in Orlando for the Winter Meetings, which means we have our first day of fresh new baseball rumors to deal with. The Royals still appear to be in limbo, without a clear direction on whether they will rebuild or try to contend next year by bringing back a free agent or two. It sounds like Dayton Moore is open to anything, saying “we have to look at all possible alternatives in our position...we have to listen to any deal that makes sense."
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the early rumors trickling out of Orlando
The Royals are inquiring about Matt Adams
I gave my thoughts here, and they can be summed up with one word - why? If the Royals can’t bring back Eric Hosmer, they should just punt on the 2018 season (which you could argue they should do even if they DO bring back Eric Hosmer). That means going for someone younger than the 29-year old Adams, whether that be in-house options like Ryan O’Hearn or Hunter Dozier, or external options for young first basemen that are on waivers, available through the Rule 5 draft, or have fallen out of favor in their organization and can be had for cheap. Even if you think Adams makes sense as a tradeable asset next summer, he was traded for virtually nothing last summer, and a younger first baseman in that position would be a better asset to trade.
Kelvin Herrera is drawing interest
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports the Royals are “fielding interest” in Kelvin Herrera, who drew interest from the Astros last year. Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle mentions Herrera as a possibility for the Astros this off-season. The Royals would likely be selling low on Herrera after a disappointing 2017 season. There may be some doubts he can close, but perhaps teams see him more as a solid middle relief guy. Jeffrey Flanagan at MLB.com seems to imply the Royals don’t even necessarily see Herrera as their closer for next year, and are looking for other candidates to handle the role. It seems like the Royals would get better value if they waited until next summer and hoped Herrera resurrected his value, but if they get a good offer now, it could make sense to pull the trigger now when more teams interested and a team gets a full year of value from him.
The Royals are looking to move Joakim Soria or Jason Hammel
Ho-ho, now there’s a shocker!
The #Royals have let teams know reliever Joakim Soria is available. He’ll make $9 million next year, and they’d like to move some money. Jason Hammel could also be available in trade. Like Soria, he’s signed for $9 million in 2018.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 11, 2017
The Royals are already at their budget limit, so if they want to add any free agents to fill out the roster, they’ll have to move a piece or two. Soria makes the most sense because of the inflated reliever market, and he was actually pretty good last year, despite quite a few blown saves. Hammel had his struggles, but was still a 2 WAR pitcher, and with very few options on the starting pitcher free agent market, the Royals could move him to a team that has been striking out among mid-tier free agent starters (looking at you, Baltimore).
The Royals like Jackie Bradley, Jr.
Bradley seems like a great fit for the Royals. He is a plus defender, could be a solid top-of-the-order hitter for them, and won’t be a free agent until after the 2020 season. Bradley was a college teammate of Whit Merrifield, and has shown much love to the fellow Gamecock. The Royals have been reportedly interested in Bradley in the past, but now he might finally be available.
The Boston #RedSox have let several teams know that CF Jackie Bradley is available in their pursuit of a power bat. #Cubs— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 11, 2017
One team that continues to have interest in Bradley Jr. is Kansas City, but not sure there is a match— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) December 11, 2017
And that is the big problem. The Royals certainly don’t have a power bat to offer the Red Sox unless they make Salvador Perez available. Those Royals relievers certainly aren’t enough to get Boston to part with Bradley, who hit .245/.323/.402 with 17 home runs and 2.3 WAR, according to Fangraphs, last year. Bradley could well get dealt, but I doubt the Royals have a deal to offer the Red Sox.
The Red Sox think Eric Hosmer could hit 40 home runs in Boston
So according to Boston Globe reporter Nick Cafardo, the Red Sox have internal data that projects Hosmer to hit 40 home runs playing at Fenway full-time. I suppose the rationale is that Hosmer is one of the best power hitters the other way, so hitting with the Green Monster would be a nice power boost for him. Also, right field gets down to 302 feet down the line, which can allow Hosmer to poke a few over the fence for short home runs around the “Pesky Pole” (as Lorenzo Cain found out last summer)
My question is - how many could switch-hitter Carlos Santana hit in Boston? People have pointed to Hosmer’s great numbers in Fenway (.354/.404/.485) but he has just three home runs in 109 plate appearances. Santana is hitting .253/.374/.453 with five home runs in 115 plate appearances. If it is so easy to hit dingers at Fenway, save your money, pay half the cost of what it would take to get Hosmer, and get Santana. He doesn’t have a 56% ground ball rate that Hosmer has either, and you can’t hit home runs when you’re pounding the ball into the ground.
Mike Moustakas meets with the Angels
Can confirm that the #Angels have had discussions with Mike Moustakas. This should surprise exactly no one, since they talk to everyone and he's a natural fit, but there it is. Nothing with Moustakas-Angels seems to be hot at the moment.— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) December 11, 2017
This is not surprising at all. The Angels seem determined to finally put a good team around Mike Trout. Keeping Justin Upton, adding Shohei Ohtani, and slotting Moose at third would make this off-season a huge win for them. They need a third baseman. They need a left-handed power bat. Moose grew up just over an hour away from Angel Stadium. This move makes too much sense.
In addition, the Giants were seen as the primary challengers to the Angels for Moustakas, and there now seem to be hangups from the Giants over going over the luxury tax threshold. Either way, it seems very likely at this point that Moose will be headed to his native California.
A big rebuild seems closer than ever
The Royals have reportedly been “discouraged” at the market for Eric Hosmer going well beyond what they are willing to pay. Hosmer has already made his first visit, meeting with Padres officials in San Diego last weekend.
Be prepared to read many more reports here at the Winter Meetings on the Royals listening to offers on virtually anyone on the roster. They're prepping for a big rebuild if they lose Hoz.— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) December 11, 2017
If Flanny says the Royals are prepping for a “big rebuild”, the Royals are probably prepping for a “big rebuild.” In his most recent report, he even broaches the possibility of the impossible - trading Salvy.
Moore also said the Royals could be in position to make blockbuster deals to improve the club's farm system, and that could mean dealing anyone from left-hander Danny Duffy to second baseman Whit Merrifield to catcher Salvador Perez.
Dayton frequently likes to hold his cards close to his chest, saying “anything is possible”, but in this case I think he really thinks a rebuild is a strong possibility. The Royals have very limited options - even if they could get into the Hosmer market. A rebuild is really the only path at this point. The only question is whether the rebuild will involve just a few fringe pieces - Jason Hammel, Joakim Soria, Kelvin Herrera - or if its a full-blown, tear-it-all-down rebuild involving Whit Merrifield, Danny Duffy, and Salador Perez.