KANSAS CITY -- Royals general manager Dayton Moore said repeatedly during the Winter Meetings and Spring Training that the main focus this season was to restock the farm system.Kansas City accelerated that process last week courtesy of the MLB Draft and the trade of outfielder Jonathan Jay to Arizona, which
KANSAS CITY -- Royals general manager Dayton Moore said repeatedly during the Winter Meetings and Spring Training that the main focus this season was to restock the farm system.
Kansas City accelerated that process last week courtesy of the MLB Draft and the trade of outfielder Jonathan Jay to Arizona, which netted two prospects -- including their now-No. 27 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, 18-year-old right-hander Elvis Luciano.
And there is much more work to be done between now and the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31.
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The Royals will not say this publicly, but yes, showing other teams that Mike Moustakas can play first base as well as third base will add to his appeal at the Trade Deadline. Moustakas certainly has the hands and the skill set to handle first base. He just needs more reps.
Kelvin Herrera is Kansas City's top trade asset at this point. (The thinking here is that Salvador Perez is untouchable.) The way playoff baseball is managed now -- thanks to the 2014-15 Royals -- teams need as many shutdown relievers as they can get. And Herrera is having the best year of his career so far -- 0.73 ERA and no walks through 24 2/3 innings. It's too early to determine what teams will seek Herrera, but a simple look at the standings will provide hints. Moustakas already has been rumored to be on the Braves' and Brewers' radar.
Absolutely they could. But I'm not sure a rebuilding team such as the Royals would go that direction. Some money will come off the payroll this year, and Moose's offseason market might collapse again like it did in 2017, but the feeling here is it still wouldn't line up for a long-term deal for Moustakas.
Royals officials believe their top pick, right-hander Brady Singer out of Florida, likely is the closest to the big leagues. In fact, he could take a similar path to that of left-hander Brandon Finnegan, their top pick from 2014 who was drafted in June and was pitching in the big leagues by September (1.29 ERA in seven games) and then in the postseason. Singer is a polished pitcher, commanding three pitches, and he has a fiery nature.
At the Winter Meetings and a couple of other times since then, I talked with Moore about trading Perez and received the same answer: The Royals don't believe they'd ever get the return for Perez they desire. Virtually everyone in the organization believes Perez will be a Hall of Famer someday if he stays healthy, and perhaps theu want Perez to follow the same career path as George Brett -- as right from Kansas City to Cooperstown. And hey, Andrew Butera could be a trade chip as well -- solid backup catcher in the last year of his deal -- and he could be attractive for a possible contender.
This is a popular question and somewhat of a raging debate among Royals fans who are frustrated that Raul Mondesi isn't up here yet. But Mondesi, whose tools are off the charts, was hurt yet again to start the season (unfortunately a common theme) and has only played in 25 games at Triple-A. He's hitting better lately (11-for-41), but Kansas City wants to see if he can play a long stretch without getting hurt before it promotes him. If Mondesi stays healthy between now and July 31, he could be up come in August. The Royals also are very high on middle infielder Nicky Lopez, who is hitting .323 at Double-A. Lopez fits their profile, a solid defender who is an "action" player offensively. Kansas City's 25-man roster will look a lot different come August 1, and the names you want to see could be up here.
Lucas Duda is getting close to a rehab assignment, perhaps even this week. He has been taking grounders and hitting in the cage.
Owner David Glass is a smart guy. He knows Moore took one of the worst franchises in all of sports -- a team with no direction, a losing culture, limited Minor League prospects, no international scouting presence -- and brought it to the mountaintop. Glass will give Moore a chance to repeat that success over the next several years. It is a very long leash.
Manager Ned Yost has told me several times he's not interested in retiring yet. He guided the Royals' young players through the team's last rebuild, and he is determined to help through this one as well. I'm not saying that Yost will be around for the culmination of this rebuild, but he will be back next year and maybe the year after.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.