The Royals should not make a major trade for a starting pitcher.
As of today, here is where the Royals rotation stands entering the 2013 season:
- Jeremy Guthrie
- Ervin Santana
- Bruce Chen
- Luke Hochevar
- Luis Mendoza
- Jake Odorizzi
- Will Smith
Step one in this course of action is to non-tender Luke Hochevar (as should be the next step in any course of action the Royals take). I would then advocate that the Royals bargain shop for a starter on a one year deal. If you can wind up with a guy like Shaun Marcum, Dan Haren, or Brandon McCarthy that is fantastic and they absolutely could fit into the rotation suggested in this post. However, let's go ahead and operate on the assumption the Royals don't acquire any other starters.
What the Royals could do instead of trading a starter, is to grant either Kelvin Herrera or Aaron Crow the opportunity to start in 2013. Obviously, both of these pitchers have question marks that will likely deter the Royals from this route. Herrera has already lost nearly two seasons due to injuries. Aaron Crow was ineffective as a starter in his first professional season.
However, the incentive here is clear. Either of these starters, if they could transition successfully, could be a #2 or at least a #3 starter. Herrera has more front end stuff, but Crow has shown that he can handle the workload that a starter would require. If the Royals have a preference between the two, they could chose before camp. If the Royals aren't sure which would be a better fit, you let the two of them battle it out for the final rotation spot.
If the Royals are ever going to try either of these guys in the rotation 2013 is absolutely the best year to do it. As bad as we all want the Royals to contend in 2013, they still aren't expected to do so. If the Royals were expected to contend, a much safer solution would be in order. Because the Royals have to bridge a large gap, it is an ideal time to take a chance on a high reward option. Right now, we are hearing a lot about the Royals talking trades for a controllable, young, front end starter. The possibility exist that you already have one in your organization. Now might just be the time to find out.
There is another reason why 2013 makes sense to take this chance. Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino will likely both be on the D.L. through at least June. However more than likely, the Royals will at some point want to squeeze one or both of them back into the rotation. In addition to providing the Royals an exit should the experiment fail, this also allows the Royals an ability to cap the innings increase of the bullpen convert should they chose to do so.
Like I said, I am not necessarily advocating this course of action. I am merely suggesting an alternative if you, like me, are a bit nervous about the idea of Dayton Moore trading away one of the Royals core hitters to a team like the Rays, Mariners, or Athletics.
It is said that fortune favors the bold. However, I don't think we should approach the offseason with the foregone conclusion that the only solution to the Royals is a major trade. In fact, it should be pointed out that there is no riskier route than a major trade. When you are a annually around a 70 win team, keeping status quo isn't going to push you into contention. Just keep in mind that there might be another creative play the Royals could make, while keeping their core hitters intact.