Post updated 2-2-2016 with additional signings
It’s been a long winter. The Chiefs kept our Kansas City sports glands salivating as long as they could, but now not a day goes by I don’t see someone tweet something to the effect of “Is it baseball season yet?”
Well not quite, but we are less than a month away from pitchers & catchers reporting. Soon, we’ll be treated with the bucolic tones of Denny and Ryan calling spring training games. We’ll recognize the player names for an inning or two. Denny will make up back stories for the players no one has ever heard of before. We’ll overanalyze when Infante starts the spring 0 for 19. We’ll all form ridiculous attachments to minor leaguers that rake in limited action.
#GMDM has been busy collecting talent for the 2016 Royals. Most of the core of team has returned, but even on World Champion teams (damn, that still feels good), there are some holes to fill. Below are some quick hits about the higher profile pieces Moore has brought in or back for 2016.
The Royals traded a minor league infielder to the dirty, dirty St Louis Cardinals for this 5 year veteran backstop. A career backup behind the best of the Molinas, Cruz brings a .220/.262/.310 line to the K. He also unfortunately carries a -.4 career dWAR and this lists him as one of the 30 worst Cardinals in team history. Perhaps a change will do him good.
Still, it is *technically* an offensive upgrade over Butera (.185/.241/.266), though a step down defensively (especially in the run game). More than likely, this is just another iron in the “how the hell do we give Salvy a day off?!?!?” fire.
Decker saw 12 PA for the Padres last year, his only MLB experience. However, he has shown plenty of promise in their minor league system. From 2010-2015, Cody averaged a .258/.339/.512 line with 23 HR and 73 RBI. He also has a little versatility on the infield, seeing significant time at both 1B and 3B. Though he was never able to crack a MLB spot with the Padres, this is a nice flyer on a AAAA type guy with some pop that could fill in should Hos or Moose go down with injury.
We all know the value Chris Young brought to the 2015 Royals (123.1 IP of 3.06 ERA & 1.086 WHIP pitching). #GMDM locked him up for 2 more years to a relatively team friendly deal, keeping a versatile piece in Royals blue for the near future.
El hijo prodigo has returned. One of the more successful Rule 5 stories of all time, Soria had a great run as the Royals closer for much of 2007-2011. After missing the 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery, Soria traveled from Texas to Detroit to Pittsburgh over the following 3 seasons. Although he has not shown the dominant results he had before TJ, he had a very nice 2015 (2.53 ERA, 1.094 WHIP over 67.2 IP) and should slide nicely into the 6th/7th/8th inning bullpen competition.
This one-time stalwart of the Nationals rotation is a reclamation project for sure. A serviceable back-end-of-the-rotation starter for several years in our nation’s capital (4.25 ERA, 4.7 K/9, 98 ERA+), Lannan's bugaboo has always been command of the strike zone with a career 1.38 K/BB and 3.4 BB/9. After a lackluster one year deal with Phillies in 2013, he broke camp with the Mets in 2014 out of the bullpen, losing his spot after only 5 appearances. He struggled mightily in the Rockies minor league system in 2015, the tune of a 5.39 ERA and 1.638 WHIP over 152 IP.
A piece that many Royals fans were clamoring for at the 2015 trade deadline (including Royals Blue’s own Christopher Robin Walker), the 2014 opening day starter for the Mets recently found himself on the wrong side of a spoil of starting pitching riches in the big apple. After a spat with the club in the media, he was assigned to the minors in June never to return to the big league club. When healthy (which is a concern), he is a solid major league starting pitcher. His best season was 2013, in which he posted a 3.62 ERA and 1.281 WHIP over 199 IP.
There is not much more to be said about the Gordon re-signing. Though this contract only keeps him in powder blue for 4-5 more years (which presumably will not be the end of the road for a guy that keeps himself in Olympic athlete shape), it keeps him a Royal for at least the lion’s share of his career. It also showed the organization’s willingness to take care of its own, which should not be overlooked as we approach free agency periods for much of the core of the team over the next 2-3 years.
Wang hasn’t had a good full year as a SP since 2007. He was off to an amazing start to the 2008 season (6-0 by May 2) before a foot fracture ended his season. His pitching performance never really recovered. After several more injury-plagued, poor performance seasons, he hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013 (and only appeared in 6 games that year). His 2014 in the minors was okay, his 2015 was very bad. This is a scrap-heap hope even beyond the likes of Blanton or Madson. As always I hope to be proven wrong when I project negatively, but there is little to suggest there is anything at all left in the will-be 36 year old’s tank.
Huff is a veteran of 7 MLB seasons with the Indians, Yankees, Giants and Dodgers. As a starter, he was an up-and-down from the minors kind of guy, never starting more than 15 games or at the MLB level after his rookie year. His most consistent major league success was in 2014 as a middle reliever for the Yankees, appearing in 30 games with a 1.85 ERA, 1.308 WHIP, and 6.5 K/9.
He undeniably has some pretty sweet glasses though.
Much has been said (most of which negative) about the 5 year / 70 million dollar deal Kennedy signed with the Royals. On paper it seems we are going to pay a lot of money for a player that has had an average -.125 WAR over the past 4 seasons. Slapping on my optimism spectacles for a moment, it should be mentioned that the three seasons prior to that he averaged 3.33 WAR. There is potential for Kennedy's plus natural stuff (he has had a 9.3 K/BB the past 2 seasons) to thrive with Dave Eiland and the Royals defense behind him.
Still, that is a LOT of money with which to play the "catch lightning in the bottle" game. The low salary for the first 2 seasons and player opt out clause at that point just further reinforces that #GMDM is playing every card he has to capitalize on the 2016-2017 window.
Once a hotter-that-hot prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, Snider has never quite found his footing at the MLB level. He fits the mold of many a traveled former prospect, showing flashes at times but never putting together long enough stretches to win a permanant spot. His most encouraging stretch of play was over 322 AB with Pittsburgh in 2014, in which he put together a respectable-but-not-overly-convincing line of .264/.338/.438 with 13 HR, 38 RBI and a 1.97 K/BB ratio. Defensively, he carries a -.4 dWAR for his career. With a hot spring training showing, he could be in the conversation for a platoon spot in right field or as a 4th/5th outfielder.
It was tweeted by Jon Heyman earlier today that the Royals are making progress in signing pitching free agent Ian Kennedy. Kennedy would provide the starter that General Manager Dayton Moore has alluded to have been seeking since the end of the postseason. While ... Read more
After a 2011 rookie season that saw him bat .331/.361/.471 over 158 PA and produce 1.5 WAR in only 39 games, Salvador Perez signed a 5 year / 7 million dollar contract with the Kansas City Royals. The deal also included 3 years of club ... Read more