Moore: KC listening, evaluating at Deadline

GM says club expects to contend in 2022; Lynch to start Sunday; Draft signings

July 24th, 2021

KANSAS CITY -- The Trade Deadline is days away and the industry is preparing for a potential flurry of moves before the July 30 cutoff as contending teams eye key players to help make a playoff push down the stretch.

The Royals (39-55) sitting at the bottom of the American League Central entering Friday, won’t be among the buying group. But how much are they willing to sell? Every year, the club is willing to listen to offers and has shown a willingness to make deals if it makes sense.

“We’re not in a hurry to move anybody, but at the same time, with where we are, it’s important to listen and evaluate certain proposals,” general manager Dayton Moore told on Friday. “You always want to get better. Regardless of whether it’s the Trade Deadline, we’re always looking for ways to get better. We like the talent level that our 40-man roster has. We certainly don’t like our record and where we are in the standings. But we do have a strong appreciation and respect for the talent of our 40-man roster.

“We feel like there’s several players that are currently on that roster that are a big part of the future success of our organization.”

One of the Royals’ biggest trade chips is starter Danny Duffy, but he’s on the injured list due to a left flexor strain. Kansas City has a few controllable hitters that could be used as chips, including All-Star second baseman Whit Merrifield, first baseman Carlos Santana and outfielder Andrew Benintendi. The thing about selling those players, though, is what it means for next year.

Trading established hitters who bring value on and off the field -- especially Merrifield -- would signal how close the Royals are to contention, and Moore was adamant about that Friday.

“We’re going to expect to contend in 2022,” Moore said. “I refuse to look at it any other way. We have too much talent on our Major League team and such potential with a lot of our young starters that I think you can turn around really, really quickly.

“That being said, it’s important to evaluate where we are honestly, and we’ve got to figure out ways to get better. It’s all about the pitching for us. Pitching and consistent offensive approaches and consistently executing pitches.”

The other thing Moore mentioned that might shape the Deadline approach is how many prospects the club would want to add to its system. Of course, all of this is dependent on the potential offer.

“I will say that only being able to have 180 players under control and wanting to activate several players out of the 2021 Draft highlights a lot more detail of who we would get back in return in potential deals,” Moore said. “We certainly don’t want to clutter up our Minor League system. We don’t want to block the pathway of other players. With Minor League contraction, there’s not as much development opportunities as there once was.”

Lynch to start Sunday

Top pitching prospect Daniel Lynch will get his second chance in the Majors on Sunday as he's slated to start the series finale against the Tigers. Lynch, ranked as the Royals' No. 2 prospect and baseball’s No. 21 overall per MLB Pipeline, made his debut in early May and struggled, allowing 14 runs in eight innings across three starts. He was sent back to Triple-A Omaha with a long list of things to work on, including fixing his delivery to not tip pitches.

The lefty has had a couple of rough starts results-wise with the Storm Chasers -- logging a 9.72 ERA in four July starts -- but he’s been balancing working on his stuff with competing to win. What the Royals have seen with his mechanics and stuff makes them confident he’s ready to return -- and they need him with starters Duffy and Brady Singer on the injured list.

“It’s part of the continued process of what we have to do as we transition young players in the Major Leagues, specifically pitchers,” Moore said. “You want to see him continue to get more comfortable at the Major League level. And the way that’s going to happen is he’s got to be given the ball, given the opportunity. And now it’s up to him.”

Draft signings

The Royals are beginning to get their 2021 Draft picks to Arizona to start their professional careers. As of Wednesday, Kansas City signed 18 of its 21 picks. Here are the most recent signings and bonuses, per MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo:

• Third-rounder Carter Jensen, a local product out of Park Hill High School in Kansas City, signed for $1,097,500 -- well above the slot value of $793,000 for pick No. 78. The 18-year-old catcher has been described as a pure hitter and has a ton of power potential with his receiving skills improving steadily. He was a Louisiana State recruit, so the Royals were able to go over slot value to get him in their system.

• Sixth rounder Dayton Dooney, a second baseman with sneaky pop out of Central Arizona Community College, signed for $297,500 (pick No. 169 slot value was $299,000).

• Mississippi high school infielder Brennon McNair (11th round) signed for $347,5000 -- with $222,500 counting toward the Royals’ bonus pool, per Callis.