MLB Rumours: Ten players the Kansas City Royals want on the 2013 roster
Ten players to help the Royals in 2013
Despite the final record being a bit misleading, there is no way a 72-90 season can ever be considered a success. That does not mean that the Kansas City Royals need a major overhaul; they have a lot of talented and successful players already. There are no players who are crying out to be dumped and even very few who would be anything other than foolish to dump. But although persisting with the current players is definitely a worthwhile goal, it would not be wise to use the exact same team twice. (Even if that were feasible, which it is not.) Rather the Royals need to add players, particularly in key areas like starting pitching. Only ten can play at any one time, of course, but depth is important and the Royals could certainly deal with shoring up some positions. At the same time, there also are a few important players who the Royals are at risk of losing. Retaining these players is almost like an addition in itself and no less important.
The most obvious is pitching. Despite having a very pitcher friendly home field in Kauffman Stadium, the Royals' pitching this year was amongst the worst in the league and it cost them dearly. And although the Royals are fairly well set at other positions, that does not mean that the Royals cannot gain from reasonable additions. With the future of Chris Getz and the immediate feasibility of Johnny Giavotella both uncertain there might be room on the roster for a definite option at second base for instance. Not all of the Royals additions need to come from outside the organisation either. There are a few minor league prospects from whom the Royals may very much benefit by having in Kansas City.
The ten players on the list are not all players who I expect to be with the Royals next year and even in a perfect world the Royals would probably not need them all. Rather these are ten players who the Royals should try to get on the big league roster next year. Some will likely fall through either from being too pricey, from being unready or might depart the club. But the ones the Royals can get will be very much a boost.
This might be the very definition of a longshot, but at least at he start of the winter the Royals have to shoot high. Zack Greinke has an excellent record at Kauffman Stadium, is popular with the fans and fits the Royals' pitching needs perfectly. He is also going to be incredibly expensive, which is one of the reasons he was dealt away in the first place. The Royals have never filled the hole he left in the rotation, however, and this is a perfect way to try.
A much more reasonable shout, Kyle Lohse is a free agent after this year and had a very good season with the St Louis Cardinals, posting a 16-3 record and a 2.86 ERA. He was the man selected to pitch the National League Wild Card Game as well, showing the faith the Cardinals have in him. He is thus not not likely to be out of his depth at the top of the rotation, though the Royals might prefer someone a bit more established in that role.
The Royals know first hand just how good Anibal Sanchez can be after he threw a complete game shutout against them late in the season. Sanchez probably has talent that exceeds his stats, but has also put up some very good numbers for the Tigers so far in the postseason. Unfortunately for the Royals, this may drive his price up.
Moving somewhat down on the target list, Shaun Marcum would likely be solid addition. He is not really an ace, but he has not had an ERA over four since 2007 and looks like a good middle-to-upper part of the rotation starter. Whilst he is by no means a first choice, he is not a bad second pick if the Royals have money left over or if they start to get desperate. And if nothing else, Marcum is a native of the Kansas City area.
In addition to adding a new starter (or two) the Royals need to keep the talent they have. Jeremy Guthrie was a revelation after coming to the Royals in a midseason trade and finished the year as the club's best starter. He may not be cheap, but the Royals would be well advised to pay out a pretty penny to keep him in Kansas City.
Joakim Soria almost falls in between an addition and a retention. He missed all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery and now there is a rumour that the Royals may not pick up the club option on his contract after the success of Greg Holland in the closer's role. But this would be a mistake. Holland has been very good, but was not tested that much in the last two months of the season and Soria is a proven All-Star calibre closer. Holland is very useful as a set up man and in case Soria is not back from injury at the start of the season (or is not 100% at the start of the season). But Soria must be given the first shot at the closer's role when he is fully fit.
Jake Odorizzi is, of course, already with the Royals and even on the 40-man roster having made two starts this September. But the Royals would very much like to see him take on an expanded role at the back end of the rotation in 2013. It is a bit risky, he has not even had a full season in AAA, but if he starts to match his potential he would be a very formidable weapon for the Royals.
This is a slightly odd one on the face of it. Luke Hochevar has massively underperformed in his time with he Royals and there has been a strong suggestion that the Royals may not offer him a new contract this winter. But despite the fact that I am not at all sure he will ever truly fulfill his potential, I would keep him on. There may be other teams who are willing to trade for him and it might be worth trying him out as a reliever as well. (There are quite a number of failed Royals starters who have found success in the bullpen with other teams. Jeremy Affeldt is a prominet example.) There is also the fact that if the Royals fail in the free agent market, Hochevar's mercurial talent may still be better than the available alternatives.
The Royals would like someone at second base to tutor Giavotella and to play everyday if Johnny is not ready by nex year. And they already have a very solid defensive second baseman on the roster: Chris Getz. He is not actually eligible for free agency this winter, but he is out of contract. Re signing him would almost certainly be cheaper and more productive than going out on what is a slightly scant free agent market.
If the Royals were insistent on picking up a middle infielder on the free agent market, then the best option is certainly Marco Scutaro. Scutaro has been notable recently for being on the receiving end of Matt Holliday's lunge in the NLCS, but he is a veteran infielder who would have excellent knowledge to pass on and is a solid hitter to boot.