To state the obvious: the Royals are in bad shape, because not only are they a very bad team as currently constructed, they have few obvious avenues to substantially improve. To repeat points others have made: they have little talent on the big league roster that would appeal to other teams in trades, their minor league system is very weak, and they are unlikely to spend enough in free agency to make the team truly competitive. Teams have three standard ways to add talent to their roster: through trades, through free agent signings, and through promotions from within their minor league systems. None of these are viable ways for the Royals to add enough talent to the roster to move the needle.
So, what are some non-standard ways to add talent? Here's a partial list, to get a discussion started. Several of these options are already under discussion on this blog.
- The Rule 5 draft
- Signing lesser-known players from Japan or Korea
- Absorbing salary from other teams to buy prospects
- Waiver claims
- Scouting and signing independent league players
- Spending big on internal player development to squeeze more out of the current minor league talent
- Buying low on injured players