It's no secret the Royals are in desperate search of pitching. Ranking 23rd in the MLB in ERA, 27th in WHIP, and 28th in both quality starts and batting average against, Kansas City's rotation clearly underperformed this season. They are rumored to be in search of starting pitching this winter at the right price, but with a lack of options on the market, they may be willing to explore the trade market.
Alex Gordon would be a solid pickup for the Rays, as the move would really bolster their outfield. Batting .294/.368/.455 last season, Gordon would help shore up the middle of the order as well. An outfield of Desmond Jennings in centerfield with Gordon and Matt Joyce at the corners certainly looks solid, especially with utility man Ben Zobrist and the speedy Sam Fuld at their disposal as well. It's also worth noting that a Longoria/Gordon in the middle of the order could carry this team deep into the postseason.
At 28 years old, Kansas City might deem Gordon expendable, especially with potential star outfielder Will Myers ready to make the leap to the big leagues.
Gordon still has three years remaining of the four-year, $37.5 million deal he signed last winter. This is a pretty solid deal, and one that the Rays may be able to afford despite their limited financial resources.
Another legitimate possibility may be first baseman Eric Hosmer. The Royals may not be willing to part with Hosmer, as he has plenty of upside, but after a disappointing year, the Rays may be able to swoop him up at the right time. After batting just .232/.304/.359 last season, Hosmer let down a lot of excited Kansas City faithfuls with his mediocre offensive output. However, because he is just 22, he still has plenty of potential, so don't be fooled by his numbers last season. I expect his numbers to return to form next season, and it could be a nice boost for the Rays if he were in their lineup.
Hosmer is also affordable because of his young age, as he made just $502,500 last season. If Tampa Bay acquired him, a long-term deal could avoid several years of arbitration.
Hosmer would fill a need at first base, and the Rays could send back pitching in return to help a glaring need for the Royals as well. However, it is very unlikely the Royals would be willing to move Hosmer with so much time left for him to develop, so Tampa Bay might be better off pursuing Gordon.
Similar to the Andrus deal, it would likely come at the expense of James Shields. Although it would be a significant blow, the acquisition of a player like Gordon or Hosmer might be too much to pass up.