The baseball winter meetings have concluded with a number of moves that significantly altered the landscape of baseball. While the Royals did not strike any deals, there are a few trades that would be interesting to see them explore in the coming months in an effort to help get them to the next level.
Proposed Trade #1: Royals trade Billy Butler and Jeremy Jeffress to the Rays for Jeff Niemann, Brandon Guyer, and Tim Beckham.
The Rays are looking for a right-handed bat to play at DH and first base, and Butler would be a perfect fit for them. He is young and talented, yet has a reasonable contract. Jeffress has the reputation of having a million dollar arm and a 10 cent head. Any sting from his departure could be absorbed by the deep Royal bullpen.
The right-handed Niemann has won at least 11 games in each of the past three seasons, and would provide sorely needed stability in the Royals rotation. Brandon Guyer, an outfielder, has a .297 career average in the minors, but has not yet been given an opportunity to play regularly in the majors. Beckham, the first overall selection in the 2008 draft started out his career in disappointing fashion, but has been building momentum the past couple of seasons, and could fit in nicely at shortstop for the Royals.
There could be concern that this trade would leave the Royals lineup too lefty-oriented, but the Red Sox had a potent offense this past year with six or more left-handed hitters regularly starting. Giving up a great bat like Butler would be a major loss, but a trade centered on a player of his caliber would bring a good return and could help restock their starting rotation.
Proposed Trade #2: Royals trade Greg Holland to the Blue Jays for Travis Snider.
The Blue Jays have been rumored to be hot after Holland, and improving their middle relief corps. A talented pitcher like Holland would be difficult to give up, but might be worth it if they could pry Snider away in the deal. Snider has had several unimpressive trials with Toronto, but will still be just 24 in 2012 and has a ton of talent. A change of scenery could be just what he needs.
The middle of the Royals’ infield could use some more punch after this past season, when Chris Getz and Alcides Escobar, their starting second baseman and shortstop combined for 4 home runs and 72 RBI in 1,027 at bats. Lowrie could be the answer. His game is all about versatility; from his ability to play any position in the infield, to his switch hitting. Although he has struggled with injuries in the past, he would be worth taking a chance, and could likely be pried away for Jeffress, who would be coveted by Boston in their effort to restock their bullpen.
Because of their need to operate with a set budget, the Royals have a slimmer margin of error when it comes to assembling their roster. However, they also have the assets to afford to entice a trading partner and take a gamble or two. Spring training is still two months away, so there is plenty of time for the Royals to evaluate and explore every angle, and determine if it is in their best interest to stand pat, or jump into the trade market.