Up until last week, the Royals had been relatively quiet in the offseason. They had made a couple small deals, like re-signing Luke Hochevar to a 2-year, $10 million deal, and Jason Frasor to a 1-year deal while non-tendering Frank Good, tendering Louis Coleman and Tim Collins, trading Aaron Crow to the Marlins for two minor leaguers , acquired former 5th round pick Ryan Jackson in just a minor league depth move and going somewhat unnoticed, the Royals also announced they have acquired right-handed pitcher Jandel Gustave from Boston. Boston had selected Gustave in the Rule 5 draft earlier in the day, meaning the Royals must try and find a home for him on the 25-man roster for the upcoming season.
The Royals made their first “major” deal last Thursday, finding their Billy Butler replacement with Kendrys Morales – a deal good for $17 million over two years, but, could be worth $18.5 million if incentives are reached. The Royals are hoping the deal is worth $28 million over three years, meaning Morales has produced and they agreed to pick up the club option.
In case you missed it, here’s our Reaction.
Now, it’s time we do the same for the Royals newest pick-up, veteran right fielder Alex Rios (1-year, $11 million deal).
“Rios is coming off a career-worst year, hitting just 4 HR, driving in 54 in 131 games, but despite that, his .280 batting average was just above his career norm (.278), his OBP (.311) was a little below career mark (.323), while his slugging (.398) was well below (.439). Based on this, I do think the Royals overpaid, but, I’d rather overpay a player for just one year, than giving someone too long of a contract (like the Royals did with both Jason Vargas AND Omar Infante). There’s nothing ever wrong with a one-year contract. He’ll be motivated to prove himself and to earn a contract for 2016, and if he sucks, oh well, its just one year.”
“I’d rather have Rios in 2015 than Nori Aoki, although he would have been cheaper. The eye tells you that Rios has to be a better defender than Aoki, but, he did have a -0.8 dWAR in 2014, and has been “less than average” for the last three years in the field. Rios was third in assists in the AL among RF’s in 2014, which should complement Alex Gordon to supplant great throwing arms in the corner outfield spots. He was first in both 2012 and 2013. He was also first in range factor at his position in 2014. So, I think it’s still certainly an upgrade at the position. But, does the amount of money he is making even it out?”
“If Rios 2015 Alex Rios is a lot like 2014 Alex Rios and not the pre-2014 Alex Rios, Jarrod Dyson is here and it could turn into a platoon situation, with Cain in RF against righties, with Dyson in CF and Rios in RF and Cain in CF against lefties, whom Rios hit at a .325 clip last year with a .808 OPS. The Royals are in a desperate need of a right-handed bat, so, this could help. A platoon situation, of course, is the worst-case scenario – especially for $11 million, but, at least he has a track record of hitting lefties. Everyone is projection Rios as a middle of the order guy, but, I think he’ll be a top of the order guy. Yes, he had more extra base hits last year (42) than Billy Butler (41), but eight of those were triples. He stole 17 bases, getting caught nine times in 2013, but 42 the year before in 157 games. He played with some injuries last year, so stealing 20-30 bases seems likely in 2015. Rios makes sense at the No. 2 hole; maybe even leadoff.”
“Like Morales, I think the Royals are trying to re-kindle the magic of what these players once were, but Dayton Moore does have success in doing just that with Frenchy, for a year at least, Melky Cabrera and Jeremy Guthrie, so we have that going for us.”
“The Royals chose Rios and Morales over Billy Butler and less importantly Nori Aoki, Without Butler’s torrid stretch when Eric Homser was on the DL and Nori Aoki’s white-hot September (.379/.432/.494, 10 RBI), the Royals most likely do not make the postseason. I do believe Butler will have better production than both Rios and Morales in 2014, as he is younger than both and still at an age where he should not be declining. The good news here for the Royals is they are just filling pieces. Expensive pieces? Yes. But that is the nature of today’s beast and what the free agent market has dictated. It surprised me that the Royals had $11 million laying around, increasing, by my count, the payroll to an all-time high of $105 million. Maybe, that playoff revenue will be put to a good use, after all. I’m using the term use loosely, of course.”
“Despite the contract, I do like this signing much more than Morales’. The Royals are hoping for bounce back years from both, and if Rios provides anything near his .278/.323/.439, 17 HR, 78 RBI, 25 SB typical year, that would be fantastic for the Royals…and even Rios’ future. But, Rios will be 34 next year and players generally don’t get better past age 30 and that his ISO power has declined by nearly 100 points since 2012. He probably will only have to be half as good as his 2013 season to be worth his contract. And, just like with Morales, the signing did fill a need and he was probably the best free agent left out there. Rios certainly plummeted in 2014, and both of the main projections systems currently out have Rios rebounding in some amount (though not returning to a similar but depreciated value from 2013 as possibly expected).”
“Now, let’s find a pitcher…and hopefully its NOT Yohan Pino, the soon-to-be 31-year old who had a 5.07 ERA in 11 starts with the Twins last year (2.47 ERA in 16 AAA starts). Certainly he is minor league depth, organizational filler and NOT the much-sought-after fifth starter. RIGHT?”
Also, earlier in the day, the Royals signed slick-fielding shortstop Gabriel Noriega, a former Mariners prospect.
Sarah Davis says:
“This offseason this year is kind of like Black Friday: There are teams that purchase early, and have everything bought a month before Christmas (The White Sox). Then…there’s the Royals. Now, the Royals are like people like me that walk into Wal-Mart at 11:00 a.m. still expecting there to be good deals left, but alas: All that’s left is junk, and essentially, you end up choosing between crap and crappier.”
“It’s not that I disagree with signing Alex Rios….It’s that…it’s a very, very underwhelming move. In one sense, you could argue that our outfield got better defensively. Let’s face it: Nori Aoki’s awkward, circus style of play was…Just that: A circus. At times, he was painful to watch run around the outfield. He took horrible routes to the ball, and most of the time he just got lucky. I could also see that Rios has a little (a very little) bit more power than Aoki. The thing about this signing is that it’s just very, for lack of a better term, “meh” to me. This whole offseason just seems so…lackadaisical….irrelevant….I have no idea. I have yet to see a move that Dayton Moore has made this offseason and said, ‘Wow, I really liked that.’ It’s either been: ‘Uuuuuuggggggggghhhhhhhhh’ or ‘It’s whatever.’ This move, unlike the other move, I’m willing to give a shot before telling everyone that it’s a horrible move.”
Conrad McGorkin says:
“For me, there is no such thing as a bad one year contract. Unless the dollar are absurd. 11 million is tolerable in this free agent market. Rios isn’t great, but like Morales, he has some pedigree of a better than average player. I have heard that Rios can be a bit of a poor teammate. We’ll see how he fits in, in the Royals dugout. Neither move is overly exciting individually, but together they may be okay. I certainly like these two signings more than I liked Juan Gonzalez and Benito Santiago in 2004. Like I’ve said from the end of the World Series, how the Royals fill James Shields’ vacancy will be the most important move of the off-season. I’m satisfied, though not real excited, with the holes filled in the offense so far. As a team, we still won’t walk or take pitches much at all. That probably won’t change anytime soon. The offense shouldn’t be worse than 2014, so there’s that. Things could be worse.”
Justin Rhodes says:
“My thoughts are very similar to Conrad’s. Although I feel like we overpaid, I like this signing. I like it, don’t love it. We addressed a position of need and didn’t have to make a trade to do it. I prefer Rios in RF over Aoki. He offers more power and better defense with similar batting AVG and OBP. When Rios is healthy he’s a threat to steal on the bases. Signing Rios to a one-year deal is the best part. If he sucks, so what you aren’t stuck with him for several years. Also he will be playing for his next contract so I expect his best effort. Bottom line the Royals got better today. Now we still need a starting pitcher. With the current payroll at $105 million I expect a trade. I also expect that trade to include Davis or Holland. This seemed inevitable once Papa Hoch re-signed with the team. Still too much money invested in that $26 million bullpen.
Luke Goosen says:
“I don’t hate this move. I really don’t love this move. I worry most that I will end up hating it as the season wears on and Melky is killing us wearing black and white, while Rios looks like he is aging by the day. I hope that ends up not being the case, but I just have a hard time expecting declining players to rebound. Morales is different, he had one bad year, that DOES seem possible to rebound from. The problem with Rios is he hasn’t been great since 2012.”
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