The Kansas City Royals have taken a swift approach to the offseason thus far. So far, they signed Jason Vargas to bolster their rotation, non-tendered Chris Getz and traded catcher George Kottaras to the Chicago Cubs.
Baseball's annual conference known as the Winter Meetings will convene next week at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando. Here, general managers from all 30 teams will convene and discuss trades, meet with free agents and gauge interest in their own players.
Royals GM Dayton Moore, fresh off the two-year contract extension that he signed last week, will arrive in Orlando with his own agenda. There are some things that he must try to pull off during the meetings.
The Royals need clarity at key positions, and they need to show a willingness to address needs through free agency. The team could potentially use one more arm, and they should evaluate the value of one of their own players.
Here are four things the team simply must do while Dayton Moore is in Orlando next week.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted.
Carlos Beltran was drafted by the Royals in the 1995. He then won the AL Rookie of the Year in 1999 as a member of the Royals after hitting 22 home runs and driving in 108 runs while posting a .293 batting average.
After six seasons with the Royals, Beltran was traded as part of a three-team deal in 2004. The Royals received catcher John Buck from the Houston Astros and infielder Mark Teahen and pitcher Mike Wood from the Oakland A's. Since his departure from Kansas City, the superstar outfielder has spent time with the Astros, the New York Mets, the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals.
This offseason, Beltran could find himself coming home to Kansas City to help provide some power to the Royals' lineup and some stability to right field. George A. King III and Kevin Kernan of The New York Daily News reported on Beltran meeting with the Royals on Tuesday, and ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that Beltran has been offered a three-year, $48 million contract by an unnamed team.
Moore stated that the Royals are certainly interested in adding an impact bat, per Dick Kaegel of MLB.com:
We'd like to do everything we can to improve our offense. I do expect this current group of players to continue to get better, and I think this offense will continue to grow and improve and be more productive. But we would like to inject another bat in there for sure.
Beltran would provide the Royals with a true power hitter who is capable of holding down the middle of the order. He is a run-producer that would benefit from playing for an American League team in the final few years of his career. He could easily provide an upgrade in right field for the Royals, and the team could use him as a designated hitter to give him some rest.
This would be the single biggest move the Royals could complete at the Winter Meetings. Carlos Beltran needs to be in Royals' blue sooner rather than later.
The Royals' acquisition of Emilio Bonifacio from Toronto in August signified an attempt to solidify second base. The previously mentioned non-tender of Chris Getz furthered that mindset.
The Royals seem to have lost patience with the development of Getz and Johnny Giavotella. Bonifacio provided them with a player with solid potential, assuming he could overcome his inconsistencies. Still, the position is worth looking into as a potential upgrade.
The need during the Winter Meetings is to come out with a clear picture of what second base will look like in 2014. If it is going to be Bonifacio, move forward with that thought. If the team is truly interested in the free-agent market, and Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal has them linked to Mark Ellis, then a move needs to be made.
Either way, the team would benefit from knowing who will be playing second base next season. Next week is the prime time to make that decision.
Billy Butler has been the premier hitter for the Royals through the rebuilding phase that is coming to fruition. The team may be shopping him around, however, in an attempt to find the salary room to add a few other pieces.
On Nov. 23, Bob Dutton, formerly of The Kansas City Star, stated via Twitter that the team had not engaged in any recent trade discussions about their designated hitter. Still, Butler may be one of the Royals most attractive assets that can actually provide them with some salary relief.
If the team is looking to upgrade with Beltran and Ellis, they may very well be looking to shop Butler in a deal that would land them prospects in return. At the very least, Moore needs to come out of the Winter Meetings with a good idea of what value other teams assign to Butler.
The Royals project to have three rotation spots filled for next season, as James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas have the front of the rotation well under control. The decisions will come with the last two spots. The team seems to be interested in one of those spots being filled with a veteran from outside the organization.
Moore talked more about the free-agent class in the aforementioned article by Kaegel of MLB.com. "We're evaluating all those guys, and there's nothing that I expect in the next week or so," Moore said. "I think if we do anything with pitching, it'll be during the Winter Meetings or after the Winter Meetings."
Many free agents have already found new homes, but a few interesting names still remain on the market. The Royals have yet to be connected to any of them publicly, and it remains to be seen what type of pitcher Moore would prefer. A buy-low candidate that could come to Kansas City on a one-year contract to help reinvent himself would seem to fit the bill very well.
The Royals laid the ground work for the James Shields trade during last year's Winter Meetings. They must move forward with a pitching acquisition at this year's meetings as well.