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Royals Rumblings - News for December 7, 2023

Happy Pearl Harbor to those who celebrate (this sounds very insensitive to anybody who didn’t go to school in Rolla).

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Kansas City Royals v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Vinnie Pasquantino was in attendance at the Winter Meetings in Nashville:

Pasquantino met with Royals brass for a bit before talking with reporters and then appearing on MLB Network. He stays fairly locked into transactions and rumors around the game in the offseason, which is why he wanted to check out the scene.

“I would say, in terms of being a big league player, I probably follow it more than most,” Pasquantino said. “Just because I like baseball. That’s one of the reasons I’m here, because I think it’s fun. I watched this growing up, and now I’m a part of it. That’s crazy.

“It’s cool to see different things happening. And this feels like the beginning of the offseason, where things start to kind of take off.”

Said Winter Meetings were rather quiet for the Royals:

“It’s still developing. We’ve seen some markers in starting pitching, but then there’s a big gap in what could potentially happen at the top of the market and what’s happened so far. A lot of the players we have interest in lie in that gap. That’s what we’re still trying to establish. So the discussions we’re having [are] waiting for that market to develop. It’s just been slow. But I don’t think it’s too abnormal. It just seems like every year, the market is more end-of-December and January. … Floors are getting established, but what are the ceilings? That’s ultimately where guys are going to sign.” — Picollo, on the free agent market being somewhat slow, but not at a standstill.

David Lesky at Inside the Crown writes about Kansas City’s draft lottery woes:

The Guardians getting the first pick (and the 82-80 Reds at number two) is just bonkers to me. I don’t think the draft is rigged, though the league that knowingly alters the baseball without telling anyone shouldn’t be above eyebrow raises, but this all just seems like a poor structure has been exposed and it’s hurt our favorite team more than any other.

I do think the lottery is a good idea. Tanking sucks. I wrote that I was happy the Orioles lost in the playoffs this year because I hate what they did to their fans. I hate the idea of purposely putting a subpar product on the field and asking people to support it. So I’m fine with efforts to curb that. And I suppose a bad team picking eighth and sixth in consecutive years when they were the fifth and second-worst team respectively is a message that you can’t just stink forever. But the point of the draft is also to help create parity and that’s difficult when multiple better teams in a team’s own division continue to pick higher than them.

Craig Brown at Into the Fountains also has thoughts on the lottery:

For a team that has proven itself quite adept at shooting themselves in the foot, it’s incredibly frustrating when the ping-pong balls conspire to do the damage. I don’t know what the answer is to the tanking issue. I do know the draft is a means for teams to pull themselves out of the dumps, but if teams are ceding places in back-to-back years, how is that supposed to help? And to have multiple division rivals with better records picking in front…that just doesn’t sit right.

And it’s not just the loss of draft position that hurts. It’s the fact the Royals will have less draft pool money at their disposal to sign players. The Royals have generally tried to maximize every dollar at their disposal, spreading their bonus money in a way that allows them to chase some picks with perhaps some difficult signability in the later rounds. It doesn’t always work, but whatever…That doesn’t matter in this conversation. What does matter is fiscal flexibility is reduced as their slice of the pool money shrinks. The draft becomes a little more difficult to navigate.

Speaking of, Jim Callis takes a stab at the sixth pick in the 2024 draft:

6. Charlie Condon, 1B/OF, Georgia

Callis: “I still don’t quite understand why he didn’t play at all in 2022. He redshirted, and then came out last year and hits .386 with 25 homers and leads the SEC with an .800 slugging percentage and ties for the lead on the U.S. collegiate national team with three homers in 10 games. I guess I’m getting guys who combine hitting ability with power, kind of similar to Nick Kurtz. I don’t think he’s the defender … not that we’re drafting for first-base defense early in the Draft. Shoot, that means three of our first six picks here are first basemen. But these guys can all rake.”

For what it’s worth I quite like Condon, but there are questions about his defensive fit and it’s a short track record. Condon right now could be almost the equivalent of what Wyatt Langford was at this time last year.

It’s time for your weekly Royals winter-ball roundup! Let’s start in LIDOM:

  • Dairon Blanco started five games in center field and another in left this week and hit a bunch of singles, going 9-20 with a double. He also walked four times and stole four bases. In 71 plate appearances he’s hitting .290/.362/.323.
  • Diego Hernández made three starts in center field this week, going 2-13 with a stolen base. In 90 plate appearances he’s hitting .230/.256/.322.
  • Daniel Lynch IV made one start for Leones, tossing 3.2 innings and allowing two runs. He struck out three and walked three.

Moving over to the Venezuelan Winter League (LVBP):

  • Max Castillo made a couple strong starts for Cardenales, throwing 11.2 innings and allowing just two runs. He struck out nine and walked two. In 29.2 winter innings Castillo has an 0.91 ERA with 25 strikeouts and seven walks.
  • Maikel Garcia has returned to the field for Tiburones and picked up right where he left off, going 8-19 with a couple walks, a double, a homer, and a stolen base in four games.
  • Edward Olivares appeared in just one game for Bravos this week and went 1-3.

Going across the Caribbean to the Puerto Rican Winter League (LBPRC):

  • Nelson Velázquez played three games for Criollos this week and went 4-13 with a walk.

Finally, to the Australian Baseball League (ABL):

  • Jack Pineda made four starts at shortstop and went 3-16 with a double and a pair of walks.
  • Milo Rushford played four games in center field this week. He went just 1-14 but walked four times.
  • Hyungchan Um made three starts behind the plate and went 1-10.
  • Wesley Scott made one relief appearance this week, allowing two runs (one earned) in 1.2 innings. He struck out four and walked three.

Baseball Prospectus ($) and Baseball America ($) have both dropped their top Royals prospects lists.

Local construction unions are urging the Jackson County Legislature to work to keep the Royals and Chiefs in Missouri.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals unveiled new logos, colors, and uniforms.

It appears that Juan Soto is headed to the Yankees, along with outfielder Trent Grisham in return for five players. This will give the Yankees a head start on extension talks with Soto, but being a Boras client, I imagine he will test free agency after the 2024 season.

Right-handed pitcher Craig Kimbrel is signing a one-year deal with Baltimore.

In response to entitled journalists critiquing how players choose to approach free agency: Shohei Ohtani does not owe you a damn thing.

Bryce Harper wants a contract extension. Keep in mind he is currently signed through 2031, which will be his age-38 season.

Are you upset that Florida State was left out of the College Football Playoff? Well don’t worry, so is the state government of Florida, which has evidently decided to get involved.

Caitlin Clark reached 3000 career points scored for Iowa last night.

A high-speed rail project connecting Los Angeles and Las Vegas will receive $3 billion in federal funding.

It’s time for another videogame-related moral panic, this one over the upcoming Grand Theft Auto VI.

Your song of the day is Superhuman by Tritonal and Codeko.