Posted on October 14, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Until the Indians, Blue Jays, Cubs, or Dodgers win the World Series later this month, the Kansas City Royals remain the reigning world champions. However, after finishing with a .500 record in 2016, changes are afoot for the Royals, particularly in the payroll department after Kansas City set a franchise record with a $144 million payroll this season. One place where payroll reduction may begin for the Royals is by trading closer Wade Davis, as Jon Heyman is reporting that a multitude of teams have already contacted the Royals about acquiring Davis.
When the playoffs are over, the Royals are likely to exercise their $10 million option on Davis. However, with Davis set to hit free agency after the 2017 season, he’s be a good candidate for the trade block if the Royals are looking to save money. There are several other prominent closers set to hit the free agent market this winter, including Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon. Obviously, signing one of them could be more cost effective for a team than trading for Davis. Nevertheless, with the great importance put on bullpens in today’s game, especially with the role they’ve played in the postseason thus far, the Royals should have no trouble finding suitors for Davis.
Davis has been an all-star each of the past two seasons, converting 44 of 48 save opportunities during that span. He also threw 10.2 scoreless innings and saved four games during Kansas City’s World Series run last year. In 32.1 career postseason innings, Davis has a 0.84 ERA, making him an ideal fit for any team with postseason aspirations next season.
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If it’s not Davis that gets traded, it could easily be another key player. Kansas City GM Dayton Moore has suggested that he’s been told to lower the team’s payroll next season. Sources within the club indicate the Royals may have lost around $10 million in 2016, which may have prompted owner David Glass to instruct Moore to shed money from the payroll.
“I don’t know where we’ll wind up,” Glass said earlier this month about next year’s payroll. “What we actually do depends on what opportunities we have, and none of us, including our general manager, know right now what we can do.”
It already appears unlikely that free agents Edinson Volquez and Kendrys Morales will be re-signed, but that may not be enough to lower Kansas City’s payroll, which is why talk of trading Davis is not a surprise. The Royals do have excellent depth in their bullpen with Kelvin Herrera, Joakim Soria, and Luke Hochevar, so theoretically they could handle trading Davis, which is even more reason to believe that such a trade could happen.
If not Davis, Ian Kennedy and Lorenzo Cain are two more players who could end up on the trade block. Kennedy provides Kansas City’s rotation with depth, but he’s owed more than $60 million over the next four years and could be a desired commodity compared to many of the starting pitchers available on the free agent market this winter. Meanwhile, Cain will make $11 million in 2017 in his final year before free agency, and he could be seen as expendable due to the presence of Paulo Orlando and Billy Burns.
Based on everything coming out of Kansas City since the end of the regular season, it seems hard to imagine the Royals not making at least one or two trades this offseason aimed at cutting payroll. Considering his salary, track record, and the reported interest in him from teams, the Royals trading Davis appears not only possible, but likely. Nothing is likely to happen until the conclusion of the playoffs, but the Royals moving Davis or a couple other players is something to keep an eye on once the offseason gets underway.