If the start of this season is any indication, the Kansas City Royals are going to have to take a strong look at themselves in the mirror come July.
Sitting at 17-23 and in last place of the American League Central, they appear to be headed in the direction of having to decide whether to sell at the trade deadline. And if they decide to sell , they should blow it up and restock the farm system.
Armed with pieces such as Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Jason Vargas, the Royals would be primed to make multiple splashes on the trade market. Considering all five are free agents at the end of the season, selling at the deadline makes even more sense considering they would be able to maximize their value.
Kansas City’s farm system ranks as one of the worst in the big leagues, and trading two or three of the players listed above gets the ball rolling on a much-needed rebuild and restocking of the farm system.
Pinpointing where the struggles are coming from is easy. Even with strong individual pieces on offense, the Royals are one of the worst offensive teams in the league, scoring 132 runs in 40 games (3.3 runs per game). Their pitching, especially in the rotation, has been a strong suit, except for Jason Hammel, who appears to be a free-agent bust.
It’s possible the offense picks up – it has shown signs over the last seven games, scoring 29 runs. Considering their rough start and offensive struggles, it’s hard to predict whether that sudden burst is sustainable or a flash in the pan.
This next month and a half is going to tell the entire story for the Royals on what their future looks like. Selling appears to be the likeliest option, something they appear to be comfortable with.
According to the New York Post, Royals general manager Dayton Moore was informing opposing teams during spring training that if the team was not contending come July, they would consider trading from the young core.
“We would have to consider it (a fire sale) if things do not go right,” Moore told the Post in the spring.
One name to keep an eye on is Moustakas. Before the season, one plugged-in league source boldly predicted, “Watch, K.C. will find a way to move Moustakas if things start to get away from them.”
Trading Moustakas – a locker room and fan favorite – would be bold, yet it would make sense. It would open a spot for Cheslor Cuthbert, a 24-year-old the team is high on. While he has struggled – hitting .130 in 46 at-bats in 2017 — he projects as a player capable of hitting 20-25 home runs. While he has an average at best glove at third base, his strong offense figures to help mask those deficiencies.
Considering the Royals have been to two of the last three World Series, a rebuild seems surprising, yet with the rough start and five quality pieces set to hit free agency, it’s the right move.