To start, my condolences go out to Ventura’s family and friends. The game just lost a truly talented flamethrower.
Aside from the reality of losing a truly talented pitcher who sells tickets, Ventura’s passing could hurt the Royals indefinitely. After the descent from defending champs to playing at .500, KC then traded away their bonafide closer Wade Davis. Thought an injury riddled, .500 season, then losing their closer was enough? Now they lose their ace.
The topic of the KC offseason has been whether or not to go for it once more, or sell/trade their big guys. Unfortunately, now losing their ace means they need to sell. There is tough division competition for KC within the division and for the Wild Card. The team now looks a lot different from the 2015 WS champs.
Ventura was turning into a true American League ace before he passed. KC had one of the best closers in the game, but now they don’t. The team in 15′ was healthier then the one seen in 16′. The biggest factor in play now is the lingering free agency of the big four. Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas all become free agents at season’s end.
Why risk getting nothing, while going for a playoff spot in 2017, when trades can bring back a boat load. During the 2010 offseason KC formulated a plan to bolster their farm system that would grow a championship team for the future. That plan worked as trading Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt brought back guys like Cain and Escobar. Now 6/7 years later, the Royals are not going to be in the playoff mix, but this time their farm system is quite plentiful.
Instead of having to wait 5/6 years the Royals could compete for the Fall Classic as early as 2019 if they trade their big assets in return for top prospects. Because they have just lost their ace, and starting pitching has always been a concern for KC, the trades will need to bring back young starting prospects. Combining the hypothetical haul brought back in trades and the current top prospects in the KC’s system, the Royals could be WS competitive for 5-10 years.
Worried about who in the world can replace Hosmer, Cain, Escobar and Moose? Hunter Dozier is a top 10 3rd base prospect, Ryan O’Hearn has been tremendous in KC’s system, and so on. If the front office doesn’t have the guts to trade all 4, then extend Cain and Hosmer. KC needs to find a way to avoid getting stuck in the middle of the road. Maybe having the White Sox in their division can be a motivational tool to choose a path.