KANSAS CITY -- Royals general manager Dayton Moore knows the question will be coming if his team doesn't make a miraculous run down the stretch: Why didn't you sell at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, considering all of Kansas City's pending free agents?
"It's a fair question," Moore told MLB.com. "Those are good questions, and they should be asked. But where were we on July 30?"
The Royals were 55-48, just two games back of the Indians for the American League Central lead, and 2 1/2 games ahead in the battle for the second AL Wild Card spot. And they were just 1 1/2 games back of Boston for the top Wild Card spot.
Also, the Royals had just finished a nine-game winning streak and had won 10 of 11. There was no reason to believe Kansas City wasn't surging toward the postseason.
So a few days earlier, Moore added pitchers Ryan Buchter, Brandon Maurer and Trevor Cahill in a deal with San Diego. And on July 30, the Royals added a much-needed bat, Melky Cabrera, from the White Sox.
The clubhouse mood was elevated after both deals, as players commended the front office and ownership for believing in them enough to add pieces.
"It's a good feeling, knowing the front office has faith in us," first baseman Eric Hosmer said at the time.
And in hindsight, Moore has no regrets about making the deals, and he has no regrets about not trading some of his pending free agents.
"It would have been an absolute reversal of our philosophy [to sell] at that point," Moore said. "It wouldn't have made sense."
Moore and the Royals' front office could not have predicted what followed. After the Cabrera trade, Kansas City was immediately swept by the reeling Orioles, who were on the verge of falling completely out of the race before the series started.
And then injuries began to mount to Salvador Perez, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Kelvin Herrera and so on.
In fact, since the Cabrera trade, the Royals are 11 games under .500. He has a modest .705 OPS with Kansas City.
Moore isn't ready to talk offseason strategy yet. He and his staff will have numerous decisions to make on free agents such as Hosmer, Moustakas, Cain, Jason Vargas, Alcides Escobar, Mike Minor and Cabrera.
"What I would say is, once our season is completed, we'll sit down with our leadership team and consult with ownership on what's the best step going forward," Moore said. "We will do everything we can to not only compete for wins [next season], but compete for players in the offseason. That's what we've always done. It extends to the Draft, to what we do internationally and to free agents, which extends to our own players."