A lot happened around the American League Central Division this week. The Kansas City Royals consummated the Wil Myers-for-James Shields trade on Sunday night, and the Indians dealt Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati in the three-team deal that netted them pitching superprospect Trevor Bauer from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Here’s a look at what’s running through the minds of the other fan bases as they prepare for (what we hope is) another race for second place.
December 12, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals pitchers James Shields (left) and Wade Davis speak during the press conference at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Parker of Kings of Kauffman thinks the Royals will be in contention insofar as they’ll likely finish at-or-above .500 and keep things interesting, but ultimately doesn’t believe the team is ready to top the Tigers.
"Winning now though? I don’t see it happening. Detroit is just too good. KC won’t take the their division but we could see the team’s first .500 season since 2003, in fact I’ll be disappointed with anything less. 2014, however, could be when the magic happens."
I hate that the Tiger are looked down upon for playing in the AL Central, but the Royals have done their part to put more wins on the field in 2013. The unfortunate situation for them, though, is that if they can’t get the job done in 2013 or 2014 (win the division make the playoffs, that is) then they may have set their franchise back with the loss of prospects in the recent move.
Sep 27, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Jeff Keppinger (7) turns a double play over Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn (32) during the fifth inning at US Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
James Fegan of Southside Showdown wonders what’s next for the White Sox, as it appears they may have something substantial in mind.
"The Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo trade rumors support such a notion, as the Sox dealing from their short supply of young, cheap positional starters suggests a major shakeup.A shakeup of what kind is not known yet, as Rick Hahn & Co. have yet to reveal whether they are going for it in 2013, or simply treading water, holding off on razing the farm system, and hoping things break right for a competitive year again."
Chicago’s offseason has basically been allowing Kevin Youkilis to walk in favor of Jeff Keppinger and re-signing Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd. They remain in negotiations for their own free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, but even so, it’s hard to see them improving on their 85 wins of a year ago without making a relatively substantial move at some point (especially with a now-competitive Kansas City Royals in the mix).
Jul. 3, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Trevor Bauer against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Lewie Pollis of Wahoo’s On First loves the return the Indians got for veteran outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
"The real prize of the trade is Bauer. Despite a rocky first few starts in the majors, the 21-year-old right-hander went 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA in the high minors in 2012—his first full year in professional baseball."
I’m sure it’s tough for a franchise to trade away (perhaps) their best player for an unknown (though Cleveland does seem to do it all the time), but if you’re going to do it, it’s not bad to get one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball. Cleveland will have Bauer under team control for a long time (2018 or 2019, depending on service time), and he’ll very likely wreak havoc on AL Central batters until then (at which point Cleveland will trade him for another package of prospects).
Aug 26, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Minnesota Twins designated hitter Justin Morneau (33) at bat during the first inning of the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Paula Minell of Puckett’s Pond thinks the Twins will look to deal Justin Morneau at some point this season, especially if/when it becomes brutally clear that they’re not going to compete this season.
"If that’s the case, then paying high salaries to current players is a waste of money. Anyone and everyone who can fetch a prospect of any valuable, especially a pitching prospect, should be shopped around the league. This is full-on rebuilding mode."
While Paula especially calls for pitching prospects in return – as has been the recent trend for the Twins – it looks to me like they simply would need any prospect that would help them win starting two or three years down the road (though I’m not intimate with the current state of their farm system).