The Kansas City Royals have a big decision to make as we get closer to the MLB non-waiver trade deadline. The Royals currently sit at 40-42, 4.5 games out of first place in the AL Central. GM Dayton Moore has to figure out if it is worth it to invest in this team to give it some reinforcements for the stretch run or if he should be a seller at the deadline.
The Royals need offense. The pitching has allowed only 322 runs, the lowest mark in the American League but the offense has scored only 334 runs, 11th in the AL, for an average of 3.92 runs per game. Eric Hosmer, who is having a bounce-back year after a dreadful one last season, leads the team with nine home runs. There is talent in the lineup with Hosmer being joined by Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez and Billy Butler but Mike Moustakas has not been all that reliable and has managed just a .214/.274/.321 line with five home runs and just 15 RBI.
The Royals recently designated Jeff Francoeur for assignment which is proof that Moore is trying to find the right lineup to give the team a little boost offensively. Right now, the trade market is undefined. The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox are both open for business and the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros will both move players.
The Royals invested in the now this past off-season with the acquisition of James Shields from the Tampa Bay Rays and Ervin Santana from the Los Angeles Angels. That could force Moore to forgo being a seller at the deadline. The Royals have been down that road too many times before. Moore might not make any major deals for a player like Chase Utley or Michael Morse but a smaller deal is certainly plausible.
If Moore decides to become a seller he might have one of the best starting pitchers on the market in Santana. However, Santana is a free agent at the end of the year and that might lessen what the Royals could get back in a trade. Moore might be better off offering Santana a qualifying offer and getting the draft pick in return.
The Royals are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They are close to contending right now, and possibly could be with a little boost offensively. The boost the Royals are looking for might not be available and they can’t afford to mortgage what looks to be a brightening future for an outside shot of contending this season.