Buster Olney recently tweeted that the Royals are willing to listen to offers on Billy Butler. The problem with that approach, of course, is that trading Butler leaves a Country Breakfast-sized hole on the Royals’ plate for 2014.
Instead, the Royals should be looking to use a portion of the additional revenue expected from MLB Advanced Media to increase their payroll to $100 million and follow this three step process to become a legitimate World Series threat this offseason.
1 – Sign Carlos Beltran to a 3-year, $40 million deal
In addition to providing a significant upgrade on both offense and defense, signing Beltran ensures he bookends a Hall of Fame career with Kansas City and eventually becomes the second player inducted into Canton wearing a Royals hat. For a franchise attempting to change a culture of losing that spans nearly three decades, this fact cannot be discounted.
2 – Trade Hochevar for Howie Kendrick
It may take more than Luke to get the job done, but the former number one pick’s value has never been higher. Dayton must capitalize. Like Beltran, adding Kendrick will provide an immediate upgrade both offensively and defensively. Additionally, including Hochevar in the trade makes this deal financially palatable, as the Royals would only need to take on an additional $4 million in salary.*
*Alternatively, the Royals could trade Greg Holland for Howie Kendrick. The financial implications would be the same, but someone would have to step up and fill the closer role for KC. Of course, Royals relievers formed one of the best bullpens ever assembled in 2013, so that’s entirely possible.
3 – Skimp on starting pitching
The Royals already had the best defense in the majors. Adding two former gold glove winners will only help. And who benefits most from the defense? Starting pitchers. So rather than blowing all your financial flexibility on overpriced free agents. Save some money to extend your core. According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Royals could sign both Josh Johnson and Scott Kazmir to replace their departing free agent pitchers for less than the $14.1 million qualifying offer Santana will no doubt turn down.
So there you have it. A lineup, rotation, bullpen and bench that would matchup favorably against anything baseball fans will see on the field this October.