The Royals completed a franchise altering trade today, sending Zack Greinke to the Brewers for a package of four young players. Earlier this offseason they shipped David DeJesus to Oakland, the team’s longest-tenured player at the time. As much as Kansas City would love to unload the $12MM left on Gil Meche’s contract, it simply won’t happen. If GM Dayton Moore wants to continue purging his roster of veterans, could closer Joakim Soria be the next to go?
The old axiom says that bad teams don’t need a good closer, and the Royals are expected to be among the league’s worst clubs in 2011 while Soria is once again one of the game’s top closers. Compared to the multiyear contracts handed out to non-elite relievers this offseason, Soria’s $4MM salary for 2011 with club options for 2012 ($6MM), 2013 ($8MM), and 2014 ($8.75MM) is a bargain. Trade interest would be plentiful, and the Royals could expect several young players in return.
Because his contract is so team friendly, Moore could also hold on to Soria and see how the trade market develops before the deadline. We can’t forget the fans in KC either, Moore might not want to alienate them anymore by dealing his All Star closer so soon after trading away Greinke. The Padres reportedly kept Heath Bell for similar reasons.
A radical, albeit unlikely, third option would be to convert Soria into a starter. He started in the Mexican League for quite some time, throwing a perfect game in his first start after the Royals selected him in the 2006 Rule 5 Draft. PitchFX data available at FanGraphs tells us that he still throws four pitches regularly (cutter, curveball, changeup, slider), so the repertoire is certainly there. It’s just a matter of health and getting stretched out. Like I said, it’s an unlikely move, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented. Just look at C.J. Wilson. What do you think the Royals should do with Soria?