Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore is a bargain shopper, and he's turning into a pretty good one at that.
When he first took the Royals GM job, Moore was like a young new lawyer at one of the city's smaller law firms. He knew he needed a good suit to wear to the office, so he went shopping. Unfortunately, Moore went shopping at Armani those first couple years with only enough money to buy himself two suits, one named Gil Meche and the other named Jose Guillen.
Moore has come to realize that one or two nice suits won't get him through the week. Rather, he's learned he needs to take his money to Men's Wearhouse, where he can not only afford get himself a nice suit for everyday of the week, but a couple extra for church and his wife's cocktail parties.
Moore has turned himself into the type of GM this franchise needs to make itself a contender again. He's not trying to be flashy and throw big money at big names like Bay and Lackey to fill only one or two needs.
Rather, he's spreading owner David Glass' money around to improve the entire team in 2010, while also stockpiling young promising prospects for the future.
While many Royals fans may be spending their winter months debating why Moore has opted for less expensive free agents like catcher Jason Kendall and outfielders Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel, these moves have almost certainly made the Royals a better team than it was a year ago.
In addition to making the Royals more competitive in 2010, Moore's acquisition of these guys allows him to buy time until highly rated prospects like Wil Myers, Jordan Parraz, David Lough, and Mike Moustakas are ready for the majors.
Moore's other discount deals, that could reap rewards with little to no risk this season, include: OF Brian Anderson (one year/$750k), pitchers Matt Herges, Phillip Humber, John Parrish, and Brian Bullington (minor league deals).
Perhaps the smartest thing Moore did in all his recent moves, was to sign everyone but Kendall to one-year deals with an option for 2011. In this era of big free agent contracts, there is no better incentive for a guy to play well than the money he can make in free agency following a big season.
In the case of Podsednik and Ankiel, Moore included options for 2011 that would give each a nice raise over what they'll make in 2010.
With the signing this week of Ankiel, it appears the Royals may now be done in free agency. However, it remains to be seen if Moore will make a move to acquire another pitcher, or if he'll let some of his young pitchers develop in the majors next season.
If Moore does look to acquire pitching via free agency, some of the "discounted" pitchers still available include:
LHP Erik Bedard On the surface, this would appear to be a match made in heaven. Bedard needs to prove this season that he has recovered from surgery to repair a torn labrum.
While he will probably not be available to pitch until sometime after Opening Day, he could be a great No. 3 behind Greinke and Meche. He also offers the luxury that is a dominant left-handed starter, something the Royals haven't had since the days of Bud Black and Charlie Leibrandt.
LHP Jarrod Washburn Washburn is still on the market because teams, after his collapse at the end of last season, are shying away from his demands for a multi-year contract at age 35.
If Moore can talk agent Scott Boras into a one or two-year deal with an option, Washburn could provide the Royals their left-handed option. However, after making $9.8 million in 2009, it seems like Washburn's discounted rate may still be more than Moore is willing to pay, and rightly so.