To sell, or not to sell, that is the Royals question

When talking about buying or selling (or standing pat), there are a lot of things to take into consideration: Current record, roster makeup, injuries to certain players, standings, holes that need to be filled, and whether or not your team has the pieces to compete down the road. With the Kansas City Royals at 48-50 and 8.5 games back of the Cleveland Indians, there has been some discussion about whether the Royals should buy, sell, or stand pat at the deadline. There are a few key players hitting the open market after the 2017 season, and with that, there aren’t many players who are considered “off limits” during the trading season, but there are a few who are more likely to be shopped than others.

Jayson Stark recently reported that Dayton Moore has been “wide open to listening” about deals on closer Wade Davis, starter Edinson Volquez, and DH Kendrys Morales. Moore also said that he wants MLB-ready players, and not “kids.”

With the recent blockbuster deal that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees for four Cubs’ prospects, it is apparent that the demand on dominant closers is rather high, and for Davis, arguably the best closer in the game, it should be even higher. Davis, who began his Kansas City tenure as a starter, has had a 0.99 ERA, with a WHIP of 0.849, out of the bullpen since the beginning of 2014. Maybe the answer isn’t to actively try and trade the best closer in Major League Baseball. But if you’re Dayton Moore, and the offers look good, you can’t pass it up. At least when someone calls, you listen. You ask for the world, and if someone is willing to give up a King’s Ransom, then, pull the trigger. Make them say no, which is what the Royals reportedly did in talks with the Nationals, who are looking for a closer with Jonathan Papelbon on the DL, when asking for No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball Lucas Giolito. When it’s all said and done, it’ll be very surprising if Moore moved Davis.

Edinson Volquez, who has been mostly inconsistent this year, is also on the wish list of a few teams. Texas, where Eddie started his career, has expressed interest in the righty, but has also said that they would like to “steer clear” of rentals, and Volquez, with a mutual option for 2017, would likely be a free agent at the end up this year. With a first half ERA of 4.85, he is starting to show signs of improvement with five consecutive starts of at least six innings (2.84 ERA over span) and could be a valuable acquisition for a team looking to buy at the deadline. However, Volquez recently told the KC Star that he would like to remain here, maybe ending his career as a Royal.

The only non-pitcher that the Royals have expressed interest in trading is Kendrys Morales. Morales has, like most of the team, been inconsistent. He’s had one good month this year, but several bad ones, including when he started the season hitting .195. The switch-hitting DH, like Volquez, has a mutual option for 2017, and can hit free agency after this year. The big Cuban leads the Royals in HR (16) and is second in RBI and is hitting .254.
There aren’t many players that the Royals should shy away from giving up. Of course, they won’t trade players like Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez, but that’s about the extent of the “safe” players. The thing with the Royals is that, at 48-50, and as banged up as they are, selling valuable pieces for a run in 2017 would be a mistake. Dayton Moore’s “sell, but don’t sell next assets, while trying to fix an already down season” is a smart strategy.

While there is still a lot of baseball to be played, the Royals are 8.5 games out of first place, and 6.0 games out of a Wildcard spot.

With 64 games left, the Royals probably have to go 42-22 (90-72 finish) to get to the playoffs. Is it doable? Sure. In 2014, the Royals were 48-50, and closed the season 39-25 to sneak in as the Wild Card, and the rest is history. But, this team is a lot different than that team. At 6-14 in July (scoring 3 or less runs 13 times), it’ll mark consecutive losing months for the Royals. On the bright side, the last time they were two games under .500 (17-19), they answered with a 13-3 run, peaking at the season’s watermark (30-22). But, they did not respond well, losing eight straight after winning six in a row, and are 18-28 since June 2. After a 25-8 home start, the Royals are 6-10 at the K, they’ve lost six straight series and haven’t won back-to-back games since June 29-30.

 In the coming weeks, they will get Lorenzo Cain back, which will be a huge lift to the offense, but the pitching just isn’t there. With one of the spots in the rotation being filled by Brian Flynn and Dillon Gee, if the Royals are serious about getting back in contention, they’ll have to find a proven starter to pick up the slack in the already damaged rotation. The question they’ll have to ask themselves, is it worth it? Though they won it all last year, it seems as though the reigning World Champs are coming back to earth. Through no fault of their own, it just may not be their year.

***

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