This week is crucial to KC's Deadline plan

August 20th, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- Buy or sell.

That is the main question facing Royals general manager Dayton Moore as the Aug. 31 Trade Deadline approaches.

And it is a complicated question, naturally, because this Trade Deadline will be like no other. With 16 potential playoff teams, almost every club will feel it has a chance to make the postseason.

But is making splash deals worth it in an abbreviated season?

Moore told that the Royals’ decision on how to proceed will be almost completely dictated by how the team performs over the next week.

The Royals, who have been playing very competitive baseball in the past two weeks, are now 10-15. But entering Thursday, they were 2 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot. Yet is that worth going all in at the Deadline?

“That’s a great question,” Moore told “Are you good enough to make the playoffs but then are you good enough to win the World Series? I think teams are weighing that.”

And when it comes to trades, it’s all about acquisition costs, even in normal times.

One would assume that with so many teams in the playoff hunt, it could be a sellers’ market. But perhaps not, because teams likely won’t be willing to give up too much for rentals, when the rental will be only of potential value for around for 27 days after Aug. 31.

Truthfully, It has become increasingly difficult in recent years to move potential rental players for top-notch prospects. Most teams have veered away from that commitment. It might be almost impossible now.

“Very few teams were interested in recent years to give up too much for rentals,” Moore said, “and that was under a normal environment in the best situation. It’s hard to picture that happening now.”

And that directly affects the Royals. Under a normal season, and if the Royals were out of contention right now, Moore and his staff would be hunting for opportunities to move players with expiring contracts, such as , and .

All have potential value.

But under normal circumstances, it’s uncertain what the Royals could get in return for that trio, though Rosenthal, who has six saves and has looked dominant, might have reeled in a top prospect.

But in 2020, who knows how rival teams feel about going all-in to win an asterisk-filled season.

“That,” Moore said, “is the biggest question. We don’t know right now. It would have to be a team with a surplus of prospects.”

There is also the possibility that the Royals will entertain the notion of signing Rosenthal long-term. It has been a discussion the Royals have had internally because Rosenthal is just 30 years old, grew up here, has been dominant on the mound and has become a huge fan of how the team operates.

But while Moore hasn’t ruled out signing Rosenthal, there would be some obstacles.

New owner John Sherman has taken a financial beating in his first year of ownership because of no fans and a prorated local television contract, savaging his revenue. And Sherman graciously decided not to cut Minor League player or reduce their salaries.

Would Sherman be up for escalating payroll? Uncertain.

And then there’s the Scott Boras question. If Rosenthal is not traded before the Deadline, the more dominant he becomes in these final six weeks will give his agent license to demand the moon to sign him as a free agent. Small markets such as Kansas City might not get a call returned.

All teams -- large or small markets -- are weighing the risk of making deals that will add to payroll, even for a month, which makes this Deadline unique. Adding to payroll, no matter how small, will go straight to the deficit column.

“Finances are going to play a role for many teams,” Moore said. “With no fans, the revenue has not been there. Now you look at the possibility of going deep into the playoffs or the World Series where normally you could make up the difference [from adding salary]. But without fans, that revenue won’t be there. There’ll be some revenue, but not like before.”

And that circles back to what the Royals might do at the Deadline. In their organizational meetings, the Royals believe that a 30-30 season will most likely get them in the postseason. A 32-28 season would be a virtual lock.

That would require the Royals to go 22-13 the rest of the way to grab a playoff spot. The rotation appears capable of doing its share. The bullpen has exceeded expectations. But the Royals certainly could use another bat to help an inconsistent offense.

“Here’s the bottom line, and it’s that we always have to take the long-term view,” Moore said. “That doesn’t mean we stand by and do nothing. But we have a vision for our future. We have to stay true to that.”