After winning eight straight games, the Kansas City Royals have positioned themselves with a shot at taking over first place in the AL Central and may be looking ahead to the July trading deadline. The team could end up making moves to acquire pieces, rather than sell them off as Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports. McCullough notes that team owner David Glass has given GM Dayton Moore permission to “expand the club’s record setting payroll at next month’s trading deadline – if, of course, Moore deems it necessary”.
That, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean that the Royals will make a move but it does present an interesting discussion.
With the team’s offense slumping for much of the season to date, McCullough notes that the two most likely areas that the team could look to improve are third base and right field – thanks to the largely underwhelming production the team has received from Mike Moustakas and Nori Aoki. Moustakas has slipped to a .174/.246/.349 line in 192 plate appearances on the year and has already been optioned down to Triple-A at one point in an effort to straighten his swing out. Aoki was brought in this past offseason to help get on base atop the lineup, but he is hitting just .259/.324/.318 in 285 plate appearances.
There are minor leaguers within the organization who would appeal to other clubs but Moore, to his credit, doesn’t sound eager to jump into a deal without being sure that it will make a difference to the team’s win-loss record this season:
We’re not in the business of losing money and it’s not my job to do anything to hurt this franchise long term. But Mr. Glass has always been supportive. It’s not about the money. It’s about who the players are. As I’ve said many times, the success of this team is going to be predicated on who we currently have on this roster. The talent is here. They’re very capable of continuing to produce at a high level. So that’s what we’ll expect to happen.
Potential upgrade options could also be limited, however, especially at third base. Numerous teams could seek an upgrade at the hot corner which will also make acquiring one of the available options more of a challenge.
San Diego could look to move Chase Headley, before he becomes a free agent at season’s end. Milwaukee could make Aramis Ramirez available, should they fall out of contention in the coming weeks. The White Sox could have options to make available, but there’s no indication that they will move one within the division or that they would be a true upgrade over Moustakas.
Improving over Aoki could be a more realistic target for Moore and the Royals, as there will be multiple outfield options that will come available in the coming weeks.
While the Royals have some talent in the minor leagues, most of it doesn’t appear to be MLB-ready and there likely aren’t upgrade options available in the upper minor leagues. The Royals have a payroll in the neighborhood of $92 Million after pricy offseason signings of Jason Vargas and Omar Infante. There will be some room to make a move this July if they can remain in contention for first place, but they shouldn’t be expected to make any blockbuster deals for a high priced, high impact bat.