Will Kansas City be the next team to pull a blockbuster trade?
Royals general manager Dayton Moore, according to one rival executive, is "feeling the heat" - in a sense, not unlike Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos did when agreed to his 12-player trade with the Miami Marlins.
Anthopoulos' quest to do something big stemmed not from internal or external pressure, but his desire to take the Jays to another level, another exec says. Moore, signed through 2014, does not appear to be in danger of losing his job. But many Royals fans are eager to see the team use its wealth of prospects to acquire quality veterans, just as many Jays fans wanted Anthopoulos to do the same before he made his monster deal.
The Royals, to be sure, are not without possibilities.
They've already acquired right-hander Ervin Santana from the Los Angeles Angels for lefty Brandon Sisk, a 27-year-old reliever who has never pitched in the majors. Santana came at a net price of $12 million, but the Royals are obligated to him only for next season. So, they can still fit a free agent such as righty Jeremy Guthrie into their payroll on a back-loaded, multi-year deal.
The better question, though, is whether Moore will deal from his prospect base, or even his major-league roster, to get the additional rotation help that he needs.
Seattle covets Royals DH Billy Butler, according to one rival executive, and conceivably would part with young, high-end starting pitching to gain control of him for three years. But the Royals, sources say, still aren't sure the rest of their offense is potent enough to move Butler, not when first baseman Eric Hosmer is coming off a disappointing season and center fielder Lorenzo Cain appeared in only 61 games due to a left groin injury.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, likes the Royals' top hitting prospect, right fielder Wil Myers, according to two rival officials. But Myers could turn out to be the best of the Royals' young hitters, and Moore is understandably conflicted over whether to move him, even for a pitcher such as right-hander Jeremy Hellickson or lefty Matt Moore, sources say.
Another potential trade partner for the Royals could be Houston, which is open to moving certain assets for multiple parts. The price for a starter such as right-hander Bud Norris or righty Lucas Harrell would be lower than it is for, say, Hellickson. But of course, the impact might be lower, too.
Moore has been adamant about staying patient, sticking to his plan and allowing the Royals' young talent to mature.
We're about to find out how much he plans to deviate from his blueprint, if at all.