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Will Royals fill any needs at Winter Meetings?

By Michael Ruggles
At the beginning of the Winter Meetings Monday, there was some excitement in thinking about what the Royals could accomplish. Will they add a new catcher? Maybe a centerfielder, starter or reliever? Now two days into the Winter Meetings, KC has yet to make a move, though there have been plenty of rumors.
One early rumor had KC interested in 38-year-old veteran receiver Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez who spent last season with the Astros and Rangers. Rodriguez agreed to a two-year deal wit the Nationals, while the Royals were said (mlbtraderumors.com, kcroyals.com and rotonews.com) to quickly change focus to Jason Kendall, who caught last year for the Brewers, and Jose Molina, who spent last year backing up Jorge Posada for the World Champion Yankees. Kendall is leaving the Brewers after they balked at his request for a $5 million dollar salary for the upcoming season. KC is likely to spend just $2-3 million on a catcher according to the above mentioned sources. Another name mentioned is Rod Barajas who spent last season with Toronto. Barajas is intriguing because of his offensive potential, while Kendall is at least durable but doesn’t hit much. KC GM Dayton Moore has been quoted as saying that improving the overall team defense is a priority this offseason.
Perhaps the biggest offensive upgrade at catcher would be Ryan Doumit, who the Pirates are rumored to be shopping because he has $9.15 million and two years left on his contract. He’s the catcher I wish the Royals would target in trade talks. Doumit, who is coming off of wrist surgery, is still only 28 years old. He hit .250, 10HR, 30RBI’s in just 280 ab’s after coming back from the surgery, but the switch hitter has hit .273 since 2005 with Pittsburgh. In 2008, Doumit hit .318 with 15 home runs and 69 rbi’s. Because of his batting average potential with decent pop, wouldn’t Doumit be fun to watch instead of the lighter hitting Kendall or the .240 hitting John Buck?
Another interesting catcher available after being let go by the Rays is Dioner Navarro.Navarro suffered through an injury plagued 2009 season, hitting just .218 with 8 homers and 32 rbi’s. But in 2008, Navarro hit .295 with 7 hr’s and 54 rbi’s. Maybe he’s a more likely pickup for the Royals than Doumit. Kendall is said to be drawing interest from the Rangers, but I wish KC would explore younger options with more offensive potential. I realize the focus is on upgrading defensively, but I see KC as especially run starved as well. Therefore, I wish the days of .240 hitting catchers like. Buck were over. I think fans will be disappointed if the team sings Kendall. To me he has even less offensive potential than Buck. If he’s good defensively that’s fine, but these days American League teams especially just don’t have holes in their lineups.

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