From the vast praise thrown towards the Kansas City minor league system to the poor Opening Day roster the Royals put on the diamond, everything about the 2011 season was about looking to the future.
And while the Royals’ record isn’t very good this season, and some of its prospects in the minor leagues have scuffled, there have been some nice development for the future. Eric Hosmer looks like a future star, Aaron Crow looks like a possible shutdown reliever (although he may move back to the rotation in the future), and Mike Moustakas and Danny Duffy have used this season to get their feet wet in the major leagues.
So with this season down the tubes, at least as far as competing for anything meaningful, it’s hard to figure exactly why Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera are still employed by the Royals.
Granted, it’s tough to knock the Royals without knowing what teams were willing to offer for the players. But after Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence were traded, it stood to reason that the Royals’ two outfielders were in the top group of remaining outfielders that were on the trade market.
Cabrera has already tied his career-high with 13 homers and is slugging .463, a good number for a center fielder. Francoeur’s .790 OPS in the best of his career, and at 14 homers and 18 stolen bases, the right fielder should go 20-20 this season.
Neither player, due to future arbitration and past performance, figures to be part of the team when the Royals hope to be competing for championships in the middle part of this decade. So it stands to reason that they should have been traded for pieces that either could help directly to that team or used as future trade bait to help those teams.
Yet, here we are on Aug. 1 and both will still be in the outfield. Now there is the possibility that Cabrera could fetch a draft pick for the Royals next year, as he is a Type B player and if the Royals offer arbitration and he declines, they would get a compensation pick in between the first and second rounds. But who knows if that system will even be in place as a new collective bargaining agreement that will be reached before then could do away with that system.
The other thing the Royals could do is sign the players to lengthy deals, although with Alex Gordon in left field, Lorenzo Cain and eventually (if he signs) Bubba Starling in center field and Wil Myers in right field, there won’t be much room for the two players.
In essence, the Royals failed to capitalize on career years from two players who aren’t a part of the future. A wasted opportunity for an organization that cannot afford it.
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Written by Ryan Riordan