Splash Hits: Let’s get transactional
Baseball is back open for business. Meanwhile, all is quiet on the Royals’ front. Will that change?
Now the lockout has lifted, baseball seems to be moving at something approaching Chuck Yeager pushing the outside of the envelope. (I figure that demon lives out there somewhere around Mach 1.) That’s hardly a complaint. After three months of no baseball news (at least non-labor related), the firehose is wide open.
Naturally, it’s quiet on the Royals’ side of the complex in Surprise. If we know anything about this front office regime, it’s that they don’t move in a rash manner. More tortoise than hare, if you get my drift. Even though there are a few holes that could be filled on the roster (outfield, bullpen depth and perhaps another starting pitcher of a veteran variety), it wouldn’t be surprising in the least if the Royals sat this free agent—and trade—frenzy out.
Seriously. We are all sitting at our computers (or tablets or phones) and furiously refreshing MLB Trade Rumors. And the most recent posts they are tagged in are from six days ago regarding the signings of Daniel Mengden and Brad Peacock to minor league deals.
No news doesn’t mean the phones aren’t burning up at One Royal Way. Who knows what tomorrow brings?
While inertia is the story of the day, players are filing in to camp and the true storylines have yet to unfold, how about some random thoughts as baseball explodes into some sort of transactional supernova.
I’m incredibly intrigued to see how this condensed spring training schedule plays out and the impact it has on the regular season. Obviously, the pitchers will be handled in the same fashion as the past to shake out the cobwebs and to build up arm strength, but given that in 2021 the average starter threw just a touch over five innings per outing (obviously skewed a bit by openers and such, but still), how many spring innings are required for that? For some reason, when I think about the impact of the 1990 lockout and how that spring was likewise truncated, Chuck Finley jumps to mind. Maybe I watched his first start of the year or something, but I seem to recall that he was dominating in that outing, yet only went 6.1 innings. The outrage! Now, that’s considered a solid day on the bump.
Personally, I’ve come to decide spring training is a week or so too long. It just seems overkill to play a full month of exhibition games; as March moves along it’s just time to fast-forward to the real, meaningful action. The Royals will open on Friday, March 18 with their traditional Cactus League lid-lifter with complex mates Texas Rangers. Over the next two and a half weeks, they’ll play 18 games with two off days. Honestly, that sounds about right.
There’s no way MLB would ever shorten spring training (on purpose, that is). Cities in Florida and Arizona built too many publicly subsidized stadiums to quietly concede to slice a week out of their March moneymaker. Not that they necessarily have anything to say about it, but they would kick up quite a fuss and baseball wants to keep things cool. The status quo in this case is the safest path.
This caught my eye on Sunday:
Remember in the 2017 offseason that Eric Hosmer’s market was thought to be San Diego and Kansas City? The market for the first baseman was going to be horribly inflated, no matter the players. How fast did the Padres sour on that contract?
Hosmer has played four years for the Padres. He’s hit .264/.323/.415 with an OPS+ of 102. Give me all the talk about his scoops or whatever at first, the defensive metrics at The Fielding Bible have him as -5 Defensive Runs Saved since moving to the West Coast.
Hosmer will forever have his place in franchise history for his role in those championship seasons. Boy, did the Royals dodge a contractual bullet when they lost out on him to San Diego.
If you’re looking reunion, just glide past Hosmer’s name…What about Wil Myers? He’s generally a more productive hitter than Hosmer and plays a position (right field) of need. I wrote about the long shot free agent wish that the Royals pursue Michael Conforto, perhaps they could explore a trade with the Padres for Myers. With a contract they’re looking to shed, that means they would probably be happy with a controllable major leaguer (a reliever, maybe?) while packaging Myers with a prospect. Provided the acquiring team take on the entirety of Myers’ salary.
The twist here is the Padres were reportedly in on Nelson Cruz as a designated hitter. Cruz signed with the Nationals late Sunday night. (Ummm…ok?) Perhaps if they land Seiya Suzuki, long thought to be their prime target, Myers will still be on the move. Like I said in the open, things are moving at warp speed these days.
No, I do not know what the Twins are doing. Of course, I’m writing this on Sunday night. By the time you’re reading this on Monday, maybe everything will be crystal clear.
That’s not exactly true. What they are doing, is shedding $50 million owed to Kauffman Stadium favorite Josh Donaldson. That’s a nice chunk of change rattling around in their pocket. I wonder if they can get Trevor Story’s attention?
This comes a day after they acquired Sonny Gray from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for their 2021 first round selection, prep flamethrower Chase Petty. Sure, I can dig prospects as much as the next guy, but when you can flip a prep arm less than a year out of the draft for a veteran starter like Gray, that’s something I would take all day long.
And it was something the Twins needed to do, given their rotation lacks any kind of depth at this point. And let’s discuss how fun it was that Isiah Kiner-Falefa was a Twin for about 24 hours. And the rumor mill says Minnesota did not trade for him with the intention they would include home in a package with the Yankees. It just happened organically.
The Twins front office is bringing strong Jerry Dipoto vibes at the moment. Interesting days afoot in the AL Central.
Let’s wrap with a Bobby Witt, Jr. update from Josh Vernier.
Lordy, that’s a nice stroke. I can’t wait for the next couple of weeks as he attempts to push his way onto the big league roster.
Vern knows what I crave, and it’s more Bobby Witt, Jr.
Of course, if you’re an old like me and you see a number 7 on the back of a Royal, you’re thinking Big John Mayberry. I loved watching Mayberry hit, the Royals’ first true slugger. It broke my heart when Whitey Herzog had him shipped to Toronto. Sigh.
I dig how this single number thing sets up. Like Vern says, nobody is going to be wearing numbers 3 and 4 for a long, long time. If ever. I am not going to get out ahead of myself on the number game, but I just like the idea of a player of Witt, Jr.’s potential caliber to be wearing a single digit.