by John Viril—
Right now, most analysts speculate the Royals should swing deals with the Tampa Bay Rays or Seattle Mariners to address their starting pitching. Others keep coming back to GM Dayton Moore’s familiar trading partners in Atlanta. I think the Royals should pursue Cincinnati Reds starter Homer Bailey.
Last season, former #7 overall draft pick Bailey achieved his long-awaited breakthrough season. The 26-year-old righthander made 33 starts, pitched 208.0 innings with a 3.68 ERA and solid peripherals (xFIP 3.97, 7.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 44.9% groundball rate). Bailey is under team control for two more arbitration seasons before becoming eligible for free agency in 2015.
What I like about Bailey is he’s just coming into his prime; he will not turn 27 until May 3, 2013. His current performance is solid and I think he might have some no. 2 upside. Further, he’s a fly ball pitcher who has survived in Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark, one of the smallest bandboxes in the National League. While we can expect his strikeout rate to fall and his hit rate to rise in a move to the A.L., the impact will be minimized by one of the most difficult home run parks in baseball. Kauffman Stadium is a boon for fly-ball pitchers (see Guthrie, Jeremy).
Bailey is widely rumored to be available with Reds GM Walt Jocketty wanting to move international bonus-baby Aroidis Chapman from the closer role into the starting rotation. The Royals match up well with the Reds in a potential trade. Cincinnati needs a closer with Jonathan Broxton entering free agency and CF Drew Stubbs is a lineup black hole with his .300 OBP and .213 BA. RP Kelvin Herrera and CF Lorenzo Cain would be great fits in Cincinnati. The Royals could sweeten the deal by adding Wilmington SS Orlando Calixte (.281/.362/.752 in a home park with a tough hitting background).
While I would hate to give up a prospect like Calixte, the Royals can afford to do so with Alcides Escobar performing well in Kansas City and under team control through 2017. As good as Calixte is, he’s also overshadowed by 17-year-old Aldaberto Mondesi within the Kansas City system. Calixte can best serve the organization as part of a package to strengthen Kansas City’s abysmal starting pitching. If Calixte is part of the deal, Cincinnati will probably need to add a C or C+ prospect.
As for center-field, the Royals can fill-in with Jarrod Dyson and David Lough—or perhaps uber-prospect Wil Myers, if GM Dayton Moore still hasn’t gotten over his man-crush on RF Jeff Francoeur.