Dayton Moore and the Kansas City Royals are going for it.
Monday’s extra-inning win at Detroit was Kansas City’s sixth win in a row. The Royals sit 1.5 games behind AL Central Division leader Cleveland and are ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays by 1 game for the second Wild Card spot. KC is just a half-game behind the New York Yankees for the top Wild Card spot.
At one point, critics said the Royals were behind too many teams to seriously compete for the division championship or even a Wild Card chance. As the Royals have shown they can do the past few years, they went on a hot streak and stormed past the Rays in the Wild Card and the Minnesota Twins in the division.
Kansas City has finally started getting production from Alex Gordon and Brandon Moss, who were each a black hole in the lineup the first few months of the season. If each player can just be themselves going forward, it will be like KC traded for new hitters.
As baseball so cruelly reminds us, a hot streak can be followed by a cold streak at any time. All the work the Royals have done to get into position for the postseason can be undone by a bad week. Moore made a move on Monday to hopefully keep that from happening.
Kansas City reached a deal with the San Diego Padres, bringing starting pitcher Trevor Cahill and relievers Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter. The Royals sent pitchers Travis Wood and Matt Strahm and minor league infielder Esteury Ruiz back to San Diego.
The goal is for Cahill to solidify the five-man pitching rotation, something the Royals had struggled with all season long. With another quality SP, KC is less prone to long losing streaks. Maurer and Buchter should give the bullpen some much-needed depth. The 2017 KC bullpen hasn’t matched the dominance of the 2014-15 bullpens, but it’s been fantastic lately, and this trade should help it even more. Even when the Royals were a bad team, Moore had a knack for building a good bullpen.
Wood had been a nightmare for the Royals, so it’s not hard to say goodbye to him. Strahm had a great stint in 2016, but struggled earlier this season and is currently injured; he certainly has potential to be a good piece for the Padres. Ruiz has been fantastic in the lowest levels of the minor leagues, but is an 18-year-old second baseman. It’s more likely he fizzles out than it does he becomes a star.
The Royals didn’t give up their top pitching or hitting prospects, but Moore made the team better. It’s hard to complain about that. Moore pushed his chips into the center of the table with 64 games to play, setting up one last run for the core that brought a World Series championship back to Kansas City.