The hot stove is officially off and running as the Kansas City Royals have added three new players to the 40-man roster, which included the trade for Ervin Santana. In addition the Royals added pitcher Guillermo Moscoso, recently of the Colorado Rockies, and catcher Brett Hayes from the Miami Marlins in a pair of waiver pickups. Reliever Blake Wood, who missed 2012 due to Tommy John surgery, was claimed on waivers by the Cleveland Indians.
Throughout the week, many have been critical of the Santana trade and the salary taken on. However I am fine with the trade. Though it does take probably half of the budget that the Royals had to spend during the offseason, it doesn't hamstring the Royals for further seasons.
Realistically the Royals would not be able to acquire a solid starting pitcher via free agency, without overpaying for a long term deal. With this move, it doesn't hurt the long term vision of 2014 and beyond. It is frustrating seeing Dayton Moore's timetable to realistically compete continue to be pushed back, but Santana does address the need of added depth in 2013.
The critics point to Santana's struggles in 2012, and the concern is valid, but remember the Royals only had to give up reliever Brandon Sisk, and the move has no effect on the payroll in 2014 and beyond. For fans I offer a wait and see approach as to seeing what other corresponding moves are made before spring training. As an example, I'd much rather pay Santana on a one-year deal in 2013 than sign 34-year-old Kyle Lohse to a four-year contract.
As for the moves of Moscoso and Hayes, I like the pick-up of Moscoco, but am not a fan of the addition of Hayes. Moscoso had a 6.12 ERA and 1.72 WHIP for the Rockies last season, but he is just a year removed from being 8-10 with a 3.38 ERA for the Athletics. Granted Oakland is very much a pitchers park, but as we saw with Jeremy Guthrie, a pitcher failing at Coors Field doesn't mean they are completely done as a pitcher.
Now with Hayes, I understand the need for catching depth, but we all realize Salvador Perez will be given every opportunity to catch the vast majority of games. After that, Brayan Pena is still currently the backup. At AAA Omaha, you have Adam Moore, Max Ramirez, and Manuel Pina. As you can see, there is already you have a multitude of catchers between Omaha and Kansas City. Was Hayes really worth a 40-man roster spot? We shall see over the course of the winter.
Moving on, the Royals made a few organizational moves on Monday as former big leaguer Terry Bradshaw was named the minor league hitting coordinator. Previously he had been the hitting coach at AA Northwest Arkansas for the last four years. By all accounts, Bradshaw has been great so far in his tenure with the Royals minor leaguers and I am excited for this new role he will take. Jose Castro comes over from the Seattle Mariners to be Bradshaw''s assistant. Castro was previously the minor league hitting coordinator for the Mariners for the past five years.
Additionally, Milt Thompson joins the Royals from the Houston Astros, and will be the new outfield, bunting, and baserunning coordinator. Thompson was a 13-year major league veteran and will be joining his fourth club as a coach.
Felix Francisco also join the Royals from the Astros organization, and will be a special assignment scout dealing with international and pro scouting. Francisco has a history with the Royals brass as he worked with Moore in the Atlanta Braves organization in the late 90's. Francisco is heavily involved as a GM in the Dominican Winter League.
In prospect news, MLB.com posted an article and video on the young Royals taking part in the Arizona Fall League this winter. The narrative focuses on outfielder Whit Merrifield, but mentions the play so far of the others. Orlando Calixte is standing out among the hitters, batting .303, while Edwin Carl and Justin Marks are doing well on the mound in Arizona.
Lastly, and humorously, general managers were recently surveyed by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, with one executive each thinking the Royals will sign Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke during the offseason. While it may be a nice sight to read, it's not happening folks.