By Greg Echlin
Seldom does Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore tip his hand on his off-season intentions. But, given his pattern in the past, it’s becoming more predictable on what to expect as he re-tools the Royals for 2017.
So when the Royals made their first major off-season move by trading 2015 All-Star Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Jorge Soler, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
What Davis has accomplished since converting from a starter to a full-time relief pitcher is remarkable. No one can dispute that. But how much Davis has left, after a season shortened by two stints on the disabled list with a throwing arm forearm strain, with free agency pending after the 2017 season is the question. He turns 32 next September.
The Royals had several questions to ask themselves:
- Does Davis remain free of injuries for the final year of his contract in 2017?
- Is it worth holding on to Davis at the risk of getting little if anything in return should he decide to sign elsewhere as a free agent?
- Is it better to trade him now and receive a proven major leaguer in return as opposed to likely receiving prospects if Davis were dealt before the trading deadline next season?
- Is it worth paying Davis $10 million next season and restrict themselves from paying others whom they’ve developed from their own system and give them salaries they deserve?
This is where the scouts earn their money because Moore relies on them to judge players, not so much by their abilities now, but by what the scouts project in the next two to three seasons.
The Royals knew all along they wouldn’t be able to sign all of their pending free agents. Now that Davis has been traded, four pending front-line free agents remain—Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Danny Duffy.
Yet the Royals are trying to maintain the core of players who helped them reach the World Series in back-to-back seasons. Sentimentally, it’s not easy for the front office or the fans. But to prevent this team from becoming a one-hit wonder and a soon-to-be-forgotten championship team, more tough decisions loom with the intention of keeping the Royals in post-season contention.
Now and beyond 2017.