The (soft) MLB trade deadline is rapidly approaching and the Kansas City Royals appear to be a player in trade arena. Rumors being what they are, no one can be sure but Kansas City looks to be at least willing to listen to offers for Ervin Santana and may be looking at Alex Rios.
According to CBS Sports baseball insider Danny Knobler, the Royals are at least showing an interest in Alex Rios. If the Royals were able to pull off a rare intra-divisional deal with the White Sox for Rios, the move would be an effort to strengthen the team for 2014. Rios, who will be 33 next year, has a career slash line of .278/.325/.443/.768, which is almost identical to his 2013 slash. Historically, Rios has been very inconsistent, mixing terrific seasons in with abysmal ones.
He is due to be paid $12.5 million in 2014, with a club option of 13.5 million in 2015, with a $1 million buy out. The Royals should be able to afford Rios but is he worth the price? He is clearly a talented, established player. He has hit 25 home runs as recently as last season and has stolen 34 bases as recently as 2010. This season, he has 12 home runs, which would lead the Royals, plus 21 steals, also higher than any player on the Kansas City roster. He clearly would help this ball club.
There is a lot to like about David Lough. He has done everything the Royals could ever have dreamed he could do. He has produced in key situations (note his two, 2-out, RBI singles Thursday night against the Orioles), and has hustled, and been a positive player when in the game. The reality is that Lough is probably a very decent 4th outfielder. He has only walked 4 times in 197 plate appearances. He makes good contact – he has only struck out 26 times – but that lack of walks will eventually drive his average down. As likeable as Lough is, Rios would be a big upgrade.
As far as trading Ervin Santana, the Royals are a little bit more on the fence. Kansas City is on a three game winning streak but remain 7 games Detroit. The Royals do not want to seem to be giving up in 2013 in favor of 2014, but the chances of overtaking the Tigers, plus the Indians, who are in second in the AL Central, are slim at best.
In that same article he discussed Rios, Knobler also mentioned the Royals are at least willing to consider offers for Santana. Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs discusses that Santana could bring in a better haul than the Cubs received for Matt Garza. Santana could just be the most valuable commodity on the market these last few days before the deadline.
If the Royals should trade Santana, fans should look at it as a good thing. He has been terrific for the Royals. There is no denying that fact. He has justified a brave and bold move by Dayton Moore to acquire him in the first place. If Moore can flip him for 2 or 3 pieces that will strengthen this ball club next year, he should do the brave and bold thing again and go for it.
Again, while catching both the Indians and Tigers is not impossible, it is unlikely. If the Royals could get some outfield or second base help, plus a couple of close-to-the-majors arms that could be considered for the rotation next year, wouldn’t that be worth it? Moore shouldn’t give Santana away, but it looks as if his value is at its peak right now and he is a better option for teams searching for pitching than some other guys out there like Jake Peavy, who has a long history with injuries.
It should be an interesting next six days for Royals fans as they await the outcome of a few things. If the Royals can pick up a couple of games on the leaders this weekend, all bets are off. If Kansas City stubs their toe against the second worst team in the American League, Santana will probably get traded early next week.
If the Royals can acquire a starting outfielder under contract next year, like Alex Rios, or maybe a second baseman, such a move could be huge for this team in 2014. If they end up trading Santana for appropriate value, that may end up being even bigger. Trading Santana should not be viewed as a negative. It is smart business.
This very well could be a make or break week for Dayton Moore.