Over at Kings of Kauffman, a Kansas City Royals website, Marcus Meade talked about how the Royals, in desperate need of good young pitching, should trade slugger Billy Butler and and more for the Rays’ Matt Moore. It’s an interesting idea- the Rays could certainly use a bat like Butler in their lineup- but there’s one major problem: the Rays are not trading Matt Moore- no exceptions. Matt Moore is a 24 year old lefty pitcher with sky-high upside signed to a team-friendly contract, and he’s coming off a nice rookie year. You don’t trade a player like that. The Rays believe Moore has a chance to be every bit as good as David Price, maybe better, and he will be in a Rays uniform for a very long time as the Rays have him locked up until 2019 including three team options. Sorry Royals fans, but Moore is not on the market.
Do you want starting pitching? The Rays do have plenty of that! We know you want young pitching, but would you settle for James Shields, who is older but an established topflight pitcher? Would you trade the Rays a crazy amount of prospects for David Price? How about Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Davis, Alex Cobb, or even Chris Archer? Trade the Rays an impact bat, and you can get yourself a nice starting pitcher, maybe even two. The Rays have as much starting pitching depth as they can possibly handle, and some of the talent of their young starters will be wasted because there simply isn’t enough starts to go around. It definitely seems to make sense for the Rays to trade from their strength on the rotation front to acquire the improvements to their lineup they desperately need. But it’s one thing to have starting depth and another thing entirely to have quality starting pitchers who can lead your team into contention season after season.
Matt Moore isn’t just one of several young guys as part of the Rays’ starting depth. They believe that he has the ability to be something special. They know that Moore could be the ace of their staff someday and just maybe the best pitcher they’ve ever had on their team. You don’t trade players like that. No one would- and when they have, they have subjected themselves to endless ridicule. The New York Mets traded Nolan Ryan and their fan base has regretted it ever since. The Expos traded away Randy Johnson after just 10 big league starts and may have cost themselves their franchise in Montreal in the process. Matt Moore is more than likely to fall short of that nearly unreachable standard. But you can’t trade away a pitcher with that type of potential who has already shown flashes of utter dominance in the big leagues- especially when you have him signed for the next seven years. In the present and maybe even in terms of future risk and reward, trading Moore for Butler and another impact player is a fair trade. But even as they contend now, the Rays continue to look towards the future and they know Matt Moore has the ability to lead them wherever they go.
This isn’t just about Matt Moore. The Royals and every other team in baseball are not going to find an elite young pitcher like Moore on the market. They can spend for a pitcher like Dan Haren if they would like, but you’re not getting a young pitcher already in the big leagues with reachable number one starter upside. The Royals’ best chance for that young ace to lead them back into contention is for a Jake Odorizzi or a Mike Montgomery or a Yordano Ventura or a player we haven’t even heard of yet to pan out and reach his potential. Sorry, but trading for a young ace is going to be awfully hard. The Royals’ best chance is to find one themselves through player evaluation. Good luck with that.