Rosenthal: Royals Open For Business

Jonathan Broxton of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

The Royals have completely fallen from contention, but will they have any luck trying to trade veterans for prospects?

It's a baseball truism that sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make.

Which is perhaps self-evident. Since most trades are roughly even on paper, a team has roughly the same chance of doing well as doing poorly when making a deal. Granted, clubs do trade for need and so both teams in a deal might actually do well, by that measure. But it's also true that roughly half the time, you're better off standing pat.

Anyway, here's a new truism:

Sometimes the best games are the ones you lose.

Okay, so it doesn't have quite the same ring. Consider, though ... On the 29th of June, just a few weeks ago, the Kansas City Royals won their fourth game in a row, beating the Twins in Minneapolis. That lifted the Royals' record to 35-39, and pushed them, theoretically at least, to the fringe of the American League Central race. You know there were some fans, and perhaps even a few front-office executives, figuring that if they caught just a few breaks ...

Since then, the Royals have lost 14 of 19 games and now sit 11 games out of first place in the Central, far behind both the Tigers and the White Sox. They're also dead in the Wild Card standings.

Which might be the best thing that could have happened to them. As long as they were on the fringes, they wouldn't have been eager, or perhaps even willing, to trade veterans for prospects. But now they seem at least willing:

Jonathan Broxton's a closer whose ERA greatly overstates his effectiveness and abilities; he simply isn't the same pitcher who used to intimidate National League hitters. Jose Mijares is a situational lefty, which is to say he's something of a luxury for a team that might finish in last place. Jeff Francoeur is blocking Wil Myers, one of the best hitting prospects in the minor leagues. And Yuniesky Betancourt is ... well, you know.

The problem, of course, is that while it makes a great deal of sense for the Royals to trade each of those four personages, it's not clear how much sense it would make for other teams to trade for them. But if Mijares is really available, he should be the easiest to trade, as he's the cheapest in the group and he's actually been the most effective in the group.

The Royals aren't going to get much value if they trade one or more of these guys. But if they're willing to at least try, it will say something positive about upper management. Which would be refreshing.

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