With Wednesday's trade deadline looming, Royals General Manager Dayton Moore has several strategic options to consider. He can go all-in and plan for the playoffs. He can plan for next year. Or he can do a little bit of both. Whichever strategy he chooses, could have far-reaching implications on the future of the franchise.
If Dayton Moore decides to go all-in, that might indicate that he feels pressure from ownership to make the playoffs. More than likely, Ervin Santana would remain a Royal, and a major upgrade will be made for 2B. With Santana being their best major-league trade chip, the Royals would have to deal one or more of their top prospects in order to acquire a significant improvement at the second base position.
If Dayton Moore is more concerned about next year, that means he's very comfortable with his current job status. That might lead the Royals to trading away Ervin Santana or Greg Holland, in order to maximize their value. If one or both of those two are traded away, the Royals will be in search of any players that have high potential. The Royals feel they have cornerstone players at catcher, first base, and left field, so players that play any other position would be targeted. The Royals organization is particularly weak at 2B and RF, so those two positions would be the highest priority. Starting pitching is always on the menu for Dayton Moore, so a pitcher that projects as a #1 - #3 starter would be something else the Royals would be interested in.
The third option for the Royals is tricky. They could trade away Santana and/or Holland but acquire the right piece(s) in order to make a significant upgrade at one of the team's most weak positions. Most teams that are in need of a good starting pitcher or a closer for a playoff run, don't have the depth to trade away one of their better prospects or even established major leaguers. This option for Dayton Moore would most likely lead to a 3-team trade with the Royals giving up Santana or Holland and possibly even one of their good prospects.
In my opinion, the third option is probably the best. If the Royals can turn Ervin Santana into a young, controllable, high-OBP second baseman, the improvement at second base, would negate the lost value in losing Santana. Major-league players that Dayton Moore should be targeting are Howie Kendrick, Marco Scutaro, and Daniel Murphy. If the Royals were to target a minor league second baseman, I'd like them to go after Kolten Wong, Vince Belnome, or Wilmer Flores.
In the end, what I expect to happen is a whole lot of nothing. Royals fans might want action now, but with Dayton Moore in charge, the Royals will always cast a watchful on "next year". The Royals will probably not make any major trades. Because Moore (and Glass) is ever mindful of the casual fan, he won't trade away one of their name players (Santana or Holland). And, with the exception of Wil Meyers, Moore has proven unwilling to trade top prospects in the past. Expect the Royals to stand pat this year with the hopes that they can play the rest of the year like they did in June and July. Unfortunately, this "stand pat" approach doesn't help the Royals this year or next year.