As the Royals' brain trust prepares to descend on the Winter Meetings next week in Orlando, Fla., the offseason remains largely in flux.
The club is still monitoring the market -- and waiting -- on first baseman Eric Hosmer. His future could offer clarity as the team positions itself for 2018 and beyond. Yet, the Royals are already offering signals as they prepare for what could be a long rebuilding process.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore told The Star that he would listen to trade offers on more or less every player on the roster. In a separate story in The Athletic, reporter Ken Rosenthal said the Royals could seek to move second baseman Whit Merrifield and reliever Scott Alexander, two breakout performers in 2017.
Both Merrifield and Alexander are under club control through 2022 and, as a result, could command sizable returns. But they are not the Royals with the most trade value heading into the 2018 season.
Those players, of course, would be catcher Salvador Perez and left-hander Danny Duffy, both under contract through 2021. The Royals, for now, have not expressed a willingness to move either player, though they have spoken of a willingness to listen. So take any potential rumor regarding Perez and Duffy with a grain of salt.
But if the Royals are seeking to replenish their farm system and gain assets for the future, here is a look at their most valuable trade chips, with help from a survey of rival evaluators and industry observers, heading into the Winter Meetings.
-- 1. Salvador Perez
Contract status: Four years, $48.3 million Free agent: 2022
The value: One of the most durable catchers in baseball, Perez will club a lot of homers, struggle to get on base and offer premium defense behind the plate. It's an interesting discussion of whether Perez has more trade value than Duffy, a pitcher who would be coveted by just about any contender. Yet one rival talent evaluator noted a "positional shortage" at the catcher position. Others preferred Perez as well, citing the premium every-day position. Simply: There aren't many elite catchers. It's another discussion, of course, whether the Royals would ever have the stomach to deal Perez, one of the most popular players in franchise history and, yes, one of the Royals' two World Series Most Valuable Players. The hunch would be no. He will certainly be in the team's Hall of Fame some day and perhaps has a remote chance at Cooperstown, if he stays healthy and behind the plate. Those sorts of things have value. On the other hand, he's under contract for four more years, the bulk of which could be rebuilding years, and he would bring back a strong return.
-- 2. Danny Duffy