Author: Matthew Pouliot

Dayton Moore, David Glass

Royals misjudge their talent, Wil pay the price

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Royals GM Dayton Moore has told us for years to “trust the process.” For better or worse, he put forth his endgame on Sunday night, sacrificing top prospects Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi, not to mention third baseman Patrick Leonard and left-hander Mike Montgomery, in order to bring in James Shields and Wade Davis from the Rays.

In so doing, it looks like he jumped the gun. The process just wasn’t working out as hoped. The Royals had increased their win totals three straight years, but not hardly enough to matter. They won 65 games in 2009, 67 in 2010, 71 in 2011 and 72 in 2012.

And that’s the problem. These Royals weren’t two players away. At least not these two players. Maybe the 2014 Royals would have been. But the odds were against Moore being in charge of the 2014 Royals unless the team took a big step forward next season.

What we have here is a general manager who put his own best interests ahead of those of his team. And probably bought himself an extra year of employment as a reward.

That’s not to say it couldn’t work out. Shields is heckuva a pitcher, albeit not as good of one as Tropicana Field has made it seem (Shields has a 3.33 ERA at home and a 4.54 ERA on the road in his career). Davis seemed to find his niche as a reliever last season, though odds are that the Royals will take another look at him as a starter. Myers has very rare power for a right-handed hitter, but if last year’s strikeout rate is a sign of things to come, he might not post strong OBPs in the majors.

In the end, this trade will likely be judged on two factors: the Royals making the postseason and whether Myers turns into a star. I doubt he’ll be any sort of bust, but he might be more of a .250-.260 hitter than a perennial All-Star. My guess is that he ends up more in the Nick Swisher class of quality regular than something truly extraordinary.

Of course, Orodizzi should be overlooked, either. The best of the minor leaguers the Royals got from the Brewers in the Zack Greinke trade, he’s a potential No. 3 starter for the Rays.

As things stand now, these are your 2013 Royals:

Rotation: Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar
Bullpen: Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, Tim Collins, Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Louis Coleman, Francisley Bueno

Lineup: CF Lorenzo Cain, SS Alcides Escobar, LF Alex Gordon, DH Billy Butler, 1B Eric Hosmer, C Salvador Perez, 3B Mike Moustakas, RF Jeff Francoeur, 2B Chris Getz

Bench: C Brett Hayes, INF Tony Abreu, OF Jarrod Dyson, INF Irving Falu

Could that be a wild card team? It’s conceivable. The lineup certainly looks solid, especially 3-7. Shields is good enough to front a contending rotation, and Guthrie is a fair enough three or four. The bullpen should also be very strong, even if it’s filled with a bunch of relative no-names.

Still, the Royals will need some breaks. It will help a great deal if Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino can make strong returns from Tommy John surgery and contribute in the rotation, because those two could be considerable upgrades over Chen and Hochevar.

In the meantime, it’s a shallow team, something that will become painfully obvious once injuries strike. Myers and Odorizzi were definite candidates to contribute this season, and their absence leaves the Royals with little in the way of intriguing alternatives for DL fill-ins. Davis and Luis Mendoza are the primary rotation fallbacks. The Royals are going to have to add a couple of veteran bench players before the winter is out.

I’d say the Royals are an 82-85 win team at the moment. It’s a team with upside; Hosmer and Moustakas could break through and a healthy Perez will help a lot. But it’s still a real underdog for a wild card spot, and now the future for 2014 and beyond looks bleaker than it did yesterday.

Report: Indians to sign Mark Reynolds to one-year deal

Mark Reynolds
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According to the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly, the Indians and Mark Reynolds have agreed to terms, with an announcement set to come early this week.

MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli says it’s a one-year deal worth $6 million that can reach $7.5 million with incentives.

CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman first reported the two sides were close to a deal.

Reynolds moved from third base to first last season and hit .221/.335/.429 with 23 homers and 69 RBI for the Orioles. He had his best season with the Diamondbacks in 2009, hitting .260/.349/.543 with 44 homers and 102 RBI. That was also the year he set a major league record by striking out 223 times.

The Indians were pursuing Kevin Youkilis over Reynolds, but either they grew tired of waiting on Youk or they think they can find room for both between first, third and the DH spot. While Reynolds is more valuable at first than third, Youkilis is still a capable third baseman. Youkilis is also being pursued by the Yankees.

Update: FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal thinks this takes the Indians out of the mix for Youkilis. He has the Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers and maybe others in on Youkilis.

Dodgers sign Korean lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu for $36 million

Ryu Hyun-Jin
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For all of the bluster, there was never really any doubt this would get done: the Dodgers signed Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu just before the Sunday afternoon deadline.

CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reports that it’s a six-year, $36 million contract that includes an opt out after five years if Ryu tops a certain number of innings.

The Dodgers bid $25.7 million for Ryu’s rights last month after he was posted by his team in Korea. He went 9-9 with a 2.66 ERA and 210 strikeouts in 182 2/3 innings for Hanwha last season.

The 25-year-old Ryu can’t necessarily be penciled into a rotation that’s set to include Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Josh Beckett, with Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly coming back from injuries. The team also has Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang available as starters, but with a payroll set to come in around $250 million, those guys are expendable.

Ryu could open the year in the pen and then move into the rotation later, or it’s possible he’ll be needed right away if either Billingsley or Lilly requires additional rehab time. Given that Ryu hasn’t thrown 200 innings in a season since 2007, it might be for the best if he spends the first month or so working in relief.

Here’s some Korean footage of Ryu striking out 13 batters in a game:

Report: Andruw Jones signs with Japanese team

Andruw Jones
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Nikkansports.com is reporting that the Rakuten Golden Eagles and Andruw Jones have come to terms on a one-year deal worth 300 million yen, or approximately $3.6 million.

If so, Jones becomes one of the biggest MLB stars ever to make the jump to Japan. The 35-year-old hit .197/.294/.408 with 14 homers and 34 RBI in 233 at-bats for the Yankees last season. Because of his late-season struggles, he probably wasn’t looking at much more than a one-year, $1.5 million contract in the U.S. He can also play regularly in Japan, an opportunity no MLB team has offered him since his horrible 2008 season with the Dodgers.

Jones, who was on a Hall of Fame path prior to 2008, has hit .254/.337/.486 with 434 homers and 1,289 RBI in 17 major league seasons. He won a Gold Glove 10 straight years from 1998-2007.

(hat-tip to NPB Tracker)

A’s, Stephen Drew talking one-year deal with player option

Stephen Drew
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The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser and CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman are reporting that the A’s and Stephen Drew are discussing a one-year deal with a player option for 2014.

A major league executive told Slusser that he believed Drew would accept the contract.

Such a deal would give Drew the security of a two-year deal, but it’d also allow him to go back on the market next winter if he turned in a strong 2013 season.

One imagines the Red Sox could trump such an offer if they were so inclined, but their interest in Drew has seemed pretty mild. The Tigers have also inquired about Drew, but they only wanted to do a one-year deal.

Returning from a broken ankle, Drew hit .223/.309/.348 in 79 games with the Diamondbacks and A’s last season. The 29-year-old had his best season with the Diamondbacks in 2008, hitting .291/.333/.502 with 21 homers in 611 at-bats.