Should the Royals seriously consider trading for the Miami Marlins’ right right fielder Giancarlo Stanton? That is such a loaded question. The easy answer is yes, of course. In a vacuum, in a perfect world, Dayton Moore should be on the phone right now with Miami Marlin General Manager Michael Hill. The much harder question for the Kansas City Royals is should they pay the price the Marlins will want for Giancarlo Stanton?
The Royals offensive struggles this year have been well documented. Kansas City has only scored 176 runs in 2013, good for only 13th in the American League. The Royals also rank dead last in the AL in home runs with only 27. Jeff Francoeur just isn’t cutting it and has been pretty much been relegated to a platoon situation, although this isn’t official. Francoeur is scuffling along with a 2013 slash line that is down right pathetic – .226/.264/.316/.580. Frenchy also has only produced 9 extra base hits in 133 at bats, including only one home run. Although Jarrod Dyson was playing well this season before his ankle injury last week, he just doesn’t provide the power bat the Royals desperately need right now if they want to challenge for the AL Central and a playoff spot.
Of course, the lack of team power can be laid at the feet of two players who Kansas City was counting on but just haven’t developed as hoped. Both Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, despite tantalizing fans and front office personnel alike with glimpses of high level talent, have failed to find any kind of consistent foothold in the majors as far as hitting goes. If Moose and Hoss were hitting like advertised, this discussion wouldn’t even be considered. But they aren’t. And it’s frustrating.
So, the first step is to decide if the Royals should have a “go for it” mentality. Is it still possible to make the playoffs if the team can improve? Yes, absolutely yes. They are only 4 games behind a Cleveland Indian team whose starting rotation should scare no one. The Detroit Tigers are still the favorite in the AL Central, in my opinion. They are just too talented, but the Royals played well enough early on in the season to still be within striking distance late in May. Kansas City cannot fall too much farther behind than they are now.
The main problem with the Royals is they still lack that big bat to plug in around Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. That big bat is needed to spread a little fear through opposing pitchers. Giancarlo Stanton could be that big bat. In his first three seasons, at ages 20, 21, and 22, Stanton hit 93 home runs, including 37 last year, which would have broken Steve Balboni‘s decades old franchise record of 36. Also last season, at the ripe old age of 22, Stanton led the majors in Slugging Percentage with a .608 mark (Moustakas’ OPS is only .561 this season and that includes OBP and Slugging). Sure, he strikes out quite a bit but who cares when a guy has that kind of power? He would the power bat to challenge the big boys in Detroit.
If the Royals could trade for Stanton, he would be arbitration eligible at the end of this season, and he would certainly cost the Glass family a pretty penny in arbitration, but he would be under team control for three plus years. Right now, he is dealing with a severe hamstring issue and hasn’t played since April 29th. Moore would need to be sure Stanton would be ready sooner rather than later before pulling the trigger.
Now for the hard part. What would it take in prospects to acquire Stanton? It will not be cheap. Would you be willing to trade Yordano Ventura? Bubba Starling? Jorge Bonifacio? Adalberto Mondesi? Cheslor Cuthbert? Kyle Zimmer? It will most certainly cost at least two, probably three of these top prospects. As far as I am concerned, the Royals have been so awful at developing minor league talent, no prospects would be off limits. If I were Dayton Moore, I would offer Ventura and Starling first and go from there. I love the possibility of Ventura being successful in a Royals uniform, but because of his physical stature, it is unlikely he would have a long term, top tier type career. This doesn’t mean he won’t; it just means it would be worth the risk. Again, Starling has massive upside but figuring in his age and experience, how long will it take for him to reach the majors and just how good will he be? In all likelihood, it will take a third prospect, or at the very least, some help immediate help for their Major League team.
What if they ask for Eric Hosmer in the deal, on top of a couple of prime prospects? Has the price gotten too steep for anyone? The Royals do have Billy Butler they could plug into first base but that comes with some obvious drawbacks, not the least of which is who would DH? The Royals have no one to replace Mike Moustakas at third, so despite his struggles, he is probably safe right now. Would Ventura, Starling, and Hosmer be too much to pay for a proven young slugger like Stanton. That is a tough decision. The Royals should still try to hold onto Hosmer if possible. It would create another hole that would need to be filled and that is counter productive.
Surely, Dayton Moore has thought about this scenario at least some. Would adding Stanton, and maybe subtracting someone like Hosmer, not to mention the cost in prospects, be enough to tip the Royals in the direction of success? A cost conscious franchise like Kansas City that needs to rely on its minor leagues to provide players for success would have a hard time pulling the trigger on this. The problem is that the Royals have very little success bringing up players from their system who enjoy success. At this point, if used wisely, prospects should be used as currency. The Royals minor league system isn’t working. It’s broken. I was a big fan of the James Shieldsdeal but at this point, it needs to be supplemented. In for a penny, in for pound.
The Royals roster, as it is constructed right now, despite our hopes, is not going to be good enough. Hosmer and Moustakas have been awful but surely they can’t be worse. Right? There have been big voids at second and right field. While there possibly could be help on the farm for second, there isn’t much MLB-ready talent in the minors to help in right. Giancarlo Stanton could be that help. It will be expensive.
There will be a large segment of bloggers who will have severe fits if Moore trades away more prospects. If Kansas City had a better history of producing legitimate MLB players, I wouldn’t think this was such a good idea but they don’t, and there is no reason to think that will change soon. As long as Moore doesn’t have to include Hosmer, who can still be a key component in the Royals resurgence, but can get Stanton for 3 very good prospects, I think he should go for it. I would be hesitant to include both Ventura and Zimmer but one of those guys plus a couple of offensive prospects, for three and a half years of a guy like Stanton would be worth it. The Royals need a big bat and they can’t afford to sign one in free agency. Stanton is that big bat; the Royals need to make it happen.