I noted yesterday the Baltimore Orioles placed Jimmy Paredes on waivers to clear space on the 40-man roster for newly signed pitcher Suk-Min Yoon. I half laughed and said to myself, “Dayton will probably claim Paredes,” knowing Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore’s history of grabbing other teams cast offs.
Thus, it came as no surprise when I woke this morning to find that Moore had in fact claimed Paredes. The only good news, at least this time, is that Moore waived Maikel Cleto – another Moore claimant – rather than cut loose one of the many long time Royals players toiling away in the minors in the hope they will one day get a chance to prove their worth at the major league level.
Admittedly, I don’t keep up with all 30 teams and am sure other teams make a similar number of moves during the season. Even Baltimore had just claimed Paredes the previous Saturday from the Miami Marlins. The difference is that many of those teams don’t have the minor league depth and number of players capable of making an impact on the major league roster.
The issue here, much like a gambler looking for that one big score, is that Dayton Moore’s addiction is trolling the bargain bins looking for that one diamond in the rough that will confirm his legacy as GM. Sadly, the ones caught in the middle are the current players, demoralized each time another team’s excess is inserted between them and their shot at the Show.
For an idea of just how often Moore acquires players via waivers, cash trades or free agent signee; here is a partial list of moves made in just the last 12 months that ended up on the Royals or AAA Omaha’s rosters that blocked prospect promotions or opportunities to prove their worth:
- Acquired 2nd baseman Elliot Johnson to complete trade with Tampa Bay.
- Waived 2nd baseman Tony Abreu. Abreu had signed with KC in December 2011 and played well in 2012 as a late season replacement.
- Signed free agent LHP George Sherrill and assigned to Omaha.
- Signed free agent outfielder Xavier Nady and assigned to Omaha.
- Released RHP Guillermo Moscoso. KC had just claimed Moscoso the previous November.
- Traded 3rd baseman Brandon Wood to Baltimore. KC had signed Wood the previous November.
- Signed free agent 3rd baseman Chase Lambin and assigned to Omaha.
- Claimed outfielder Quintin Berry off waivers from Detroit.
- Claimed 3rd baseman Edinson Rincon off waivers from San Diego. Assigned to NWA.
- DFA’d RHP Nate Adcock. Adcock had been a Rule 5 pick in December 2010 and showed promise until being sent up and down numerous times in 2012.
- Claimed RHP Maikel Cleto off waivers from St Louis. Assigned to Omaha.
- DFA’d Quintin Berry. Berry cleared waivers and was assigned to Omaha.
- DFA’d Francisley Bueno. Bueno cleared waivers and was outrighted to Omaha. Bueno had pitched well in brief stints for the Royals the previous two years after signing in 2011.
- Signed 1st baseman Ben Broussard and assigned to Omaha.
- DFA’d RHP J. C. Gutierrez. Gutierrez had been signed as a free agent the previous December.
- Claimed shortstop Pedro Ciriaco off waivers from San Diego. Sent outright to Omaha.
- Traded for outfielder Justin Maxwell from Houston. Assigned to Royals.
- Released catcher Adam Moore. Subsequently resigned and assigned to Omaha.
- DFA’d catcher Brett Hayes. Cleared waivers and outrighted to Omaha.
- Acquired infielder Jamey Carroll from Minnesota for cash. Assigned to Royals but released at year end.
- Acquired infielder Emilio Bonifacio from Toronto for cash.
- Waived Elliot Johnson who they acquired in February.
- Traded Quintin Berry, who they just acquired in June, to Boston. Received RHP Clayton Mortensen in return and assigned him to Omaha.
- Signed free agent 1st baseman Carlos Pena and assigned him to Omaha. Recalled then put on 60-day DL.
- DFA’d Edinson Rincon who they claimed off waivers in June. Cleared waivers and assigned to NWA.
- Signed free agent catcher Francisco Pena to major league contract.
- DFA’d catcher George Kottaras who they had claimed the previous December.
- Released long time Royals minor league infielder Irving Falu who had an excellent season as an injury replacement in 2012 but not given a chance to repeat in 2013.
- Released long time minor league infielder Anthony Seratelli who never got a chance at the ML level.
- Traded for outfielder Carlos Peguero from Seattle for PTBNL. Invited to spring training.
- DFA’d LHP and long time Royal Everett Teaford. Cleared waivers and outrighted to Omaha.
- Signed free agent LHP Bruce Chen to major league contract.
- DFA’d Emilio Bonifacio after agreeing to $3.5M contract. Bonifacio was acquired in trade the previous August. Eventually released, KC will pay Bonifacio $583k to play for Chicago Cubs.
- Claimed outfielder Jimmy Paredes from Baltimore.
- DFA’d Maikel Cleto who they claimed off waivers the previous June.
By no means is this a complete list as not included are the numerous minor league free agent signings this past winter who have invites to spring training. However, it does provide an indication of how many players come and go in the Royals ranks over the course of a year; most ending up in AAA taking up space that could better be served allowing prospects to gain experience at higher levels. The acquisitions of Peguero and Parades are just one example as they could force prospect outfielders Lane Adams and/or Jorge Bonifacio to start in AA North West Arkansas rather than AAA Omaha.
Royals’ management uses two terms to justify Moore’s addiction. The first is “inventory;” basically stockpiling young players in AAA who can step in without missing a beat at the major league level. One current issue with this plan is that the Royals have stockpiled so many pitchers at AAA Omaha that they could probably out pitch five to ten major league staffs. However, instead of giving a few of those pitchers a chance, Moore instead signed 38-year old Bruce Chen as the #4 starter plus holding onto two expensive relievers at $10M total in the bullpen.
The other term is “organizational strength.” In plain words, signing experienced players to cheap minor league contracts to fill holes if injuries or regression occur. Or worse, claim players who were once major prospects and keep hoping they somehow suddenly rediscover their capability.
Sadly, no one seems to consider Royals prospects when Moore feeds his addiction. One comment heard on last week’s 1510 The Ballgame radio show said it all. Chris Kamler said that both Pedro Ciriaco and Christian Colon appeared devastated after the signing of Emilio Bonifacio and Omar Infante for 2014. No wonder, their chance of proving their worth as a Royals’ starting second baseman just sank down the tubes. Of course, that might have changed slightly now that Bonifacio has been released, although there is also talk of keeping Maxwell and not going with another backup infielder.
Of course players must show they have the stuff to make the major league roster. Colon for example has never quite lived up to his number one draft pick. Still, many players who struggle at the minor league level reach the majors and suddenly prove their worth. Irving Falu spent eight years in the Royals minor league system before being promoted in 2012 and surprising everyone with a near .300 average.
In reality, there are many more with excellent minor league stats that never made the transition to the majors of which the Royals have had more than their fair share in recent times.
However, don’t count on things changing anytime soon based on two revealing comments by Moore this past week. The first seemed to say that Moore was about to have a change of heart and start promoting from within…
“The only way we can win the negotiations consistently is by using talent in our minor-league system,” Moore said. “We’re not going to be able to compete on the free-agent market.”
However, the second quote provided more clarity about his meaning behind the first…
“A lot of the attention last year was ‘well, if it doesn’t work out, and the Royals don’t make it to the playoffs …’” Moore said. “No. It’s the first of many trades we’re going to have to do if we’re going to win,” adding, “That’s what we’ll always have to do.”
If those comments are accurate, then Dayton Moore has already lost the battle. In reality, he has so much to be proud of including one of the best minor league systems in baseball, several exciting players at the major league level and a solid 2013 season to build on. And yet, he continues to troll the bargain basement looking for that one miracle that will justify his existence.
Bottom line, it is time for Dayton Moore to stop using the cast off system as his gauge for achievement and start trusting in his own system and people to bring the Royals long and consistent success at the major league level.