Royals seeking “front-line” starter this offseason

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The Royals are pleased with the strides that top position prospects Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez made in 2011. But the Royals also know that they’re going to need an improved starting rotation to reach their organizational goal of competing in 2012, and that the desired upgrade might have to come from an outside source.

Which is why, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, the Royals’ front office is beginning to consider all options. Including a potential free agent deal or even a prospect-based trade.

The free agent market for starters this winter will be quite bleak. Or maybe we should call it shallow. CC Sabathia is likely to opt out of his contract in New York, but all signs point to him returning to the Yankees with a slightly fatter wallet. Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson will be available, but over half the league will be interested in him and it’s doubtful Kansas City will be able to put together a competitive bid.

Then there’s Edwin Jackson, an impending free agent right-hander currently pitching for the cross-state Cardinals. Dutton says the Royals “figure to make a run” at the 28-year-old and his high-velocity fastball.

A trade is another option. Despite this year’s callups, the Royals’ farm system remains loaded with talent and a Royals official suggested to the Star that prospects Cheslor Cuthbert, Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi could be made available. “Now, it has to be the right guy,” cautioned the unnamed exec.

Yasmani Grandal played himself out of NLCS Game 4

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Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.

Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.

Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.

Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.