by John Viril—
With the Kansas City Royals still in contention with 14 games remaining in the season, it is now easy to see that Royals GM Dayton Moore did a fine job buttressing his team for the stretch run. The Royals have posted an excellent 35-21 record since the All-Star break (.625 winning percentage) after stumbling to a 43-49 first half finish. Much of the improvement is due to Moore’s shrewd acquisitions of Justin Maxwell and Emilio Bonifacio.
Both players were suffering through poor seasons. Maxwell had a .698 OPS for the Astros, while Bonifacio was scuffling with a horrendous .579 OPS in Toronto. Yet, both have thrived since coming to Kansas City. Maxwell has hit .290/.375/.536 since the deadline deal with the Astros while playing both CF and RF. Dayton Moore picked up Bonifacio August 14 in a waiver-wire trade. The infielder/outfielder has taken over the no. 2 spot in the batting order with a .379 OBP. Bonifacio has played mostly at 2B, which has been a black hole for the Royals all season—but has also appeared at 3B, CF, and LF.
If you prefer WAR value, Bonifacio has added 1.2 WAR. Maxwell has chipped in with .4 WAR. If we add in waiver claim Pedro Ciriaco, Moore has added 1.7 WAR to his roster—which is a solid performance.
The Royals would not still be in contention without them.
The best part is the cost seems reasonable. Dayton Moore landed Maxwell for Kyle Smith, a High A pitcher with some promise but who is still a long distance from helping at the major-league level. Some scouts see his optimal upside as a no. 3 starter, while others believe he is nothing more than a relief prospect. The cost for Bonifacio is currently unknown, since Moore pledged a player-to-be-named later or cash considerations to Toronto. Even so, I cannot image the price for a guy with a .579 OPS could have been too high.
With the Royals now 3 ½ games behind both American League wild card spots, they are clearly in contention in the last two weeks of the season. While most view Kansas City’s chances as slim since they trail Oakland and Tampa Bay by 3.5, Cleveland by 2, and the Yankees by .5, they could still make the post season with a hot finish.
That’s more than any Royals team has been able to say in the last ten years.