In the days following the World Series teams begin to decide if they are going to pick up player options, players start to tell newspapers how much they like each potential suitor and a laundry list of common sense baseball moves take place.
Case in point the Kansas City Royals.
The Royals have perhaps been the team with the most transactions revolving around it. The Royals started off the off season by picking up two players the White Sox had seemed to be down on and in the process dumped Mark Teahen and his position-less $5 million dollar salary.
In Josh Fields the Royals got a backup option at third base, a decent second option at first base and an occasional DH who with strong power swings could once again show shades of that 2007 season in which he hit 24 homers in 100 games for the White Sox.
The other player in the deal was infielder Chris Getz who seems to be relegated to a utility role as the Royals already have a second basemen in Alberto Callaspo. Last season Getz hit .261/.324/.347 and showed great speed as he was successful in 25-of-27 stolen base attempts. Getz doesn’t figure to steal many at-bats from Callaspo but gives manager Trey Hillman another nice part to play with, just hopefully he steals Willie Bloomquist’s at-bats and not Billy Butlers.
As for Teahen that decision seemed pretty easy to me. He enjoyed his best year in the majors in 2006 when the former first round pick hit .290/.357/.517 with 18 home runs and 10 SB’s in just 109 games. Since that season he has been extremely mediocre with the Royals. He has never even come close to duplicating his 2006 season and for his career he is a .269/.331./.419 hitter. The White Sox figure to return him to third base and move Gordon Beckham to second base.
Then the Royals announced the declining of three options for 2010. Yasuhiko Yabuta who was owed $4 million in 2010 was given the $500,000 buyout which considering his 7.14 ERA and 1.82 WHIP in 43 appearances was about as oblivious as wiping after you use the toilet. Then again only a team like Kansas City could have gotten in this type of contract mess in the first place.
The Royals also declined the $8 million option for 2010 that was tied to Coco Crisp. Crisp had season ending rotator cuff surgery in both shoulders so giving him the $500,000 buyout again was an easy call. Limited to just 41 games in 2009, Crisp batted .228/.336/.378 with three home runs, 14 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 180 at-bats. Though the Royals declined his option there’s strong belief that the two sides could again partner up on a lesser amount in an incentive laden deal.
Then there’s Miguel Olivo who had his $3.3 million option declined, as the Royals opted to pay the $100,000 buyout instead. This one was a little tougher to call as the Royals are expected to non-tender John Buck in December and Olivo actually had a pretty productive season last year. He finished with a career high 23 homers and 65 RBI and his .249/.292/.490 line resulted in the highest OPS of his career. Olivo also set a career high with 19 walks last season… yes 19.. and he struck out 126 times. Another problem with Olivo is he never hit for any type of average and last seasons numbers are greatly inflated by what can mainly be deemed as a fluke-ishly high home run total. Had the amount been less it’s likely this option could have been picked up but considering the risk for the money the Royals couldn’t afford to roll the dice on this one.
So while the Royals have made a bunch of transactions they’ve only done the ones that we already knew they would do in the first place. The team will still look for a catcher this winter, another outfield option and field trades for one of their starting pitchers as well. It’s not bad that the Royals did all this now, it’s just what was going to be done sooner or later anyway.