Among AL Central teams, the Chicago White Sox were the ones grabbing headlines during last week's Winter Meetings. The Sox made a big push for division relevancy by trading for Jeff Samardzija and signed David Robertson. After the meetings, they also added free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera. The Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins also added talent, picking up Brandon Moss and Ervin Santana, respectively. Even the Tigers got into the act with their pair of trades last Thursday morning.
The Kansas City Royals were conspicuously absent from headlines throughout the week, particularly for a team that is known for acting early during the offseason. However, they have struck quickly over the last few days, signing outfielder Alex Rios and starting pitcher Edinson Volquez.
Rios was inked to a one year, $11 million contract on Monday. The move all but guaranteed that Norichika Aoki will play for another team in 2015 after playing a key role in last season's World Series run. Rios returns to the division after spending four and a half seasons with the White Sox, when he hit .269/.310/.430 with 74 home runs and 287 RBI in 2446 plate appearances. He hit .280/.311/.398 with four home runs for the Texas Rangers last season. He accumulated just 0.2 WAR, his worst total since 2011. It was the fourth time in Rios' 11 year career that he has been worth under 1 WAR.
The Royals signed Volquez to a two year, $20 million deal, filling the rotation spot left by the departed James Shields. Volquez logged 80 innings for the Rangers from 2005 to 2007, but has spent the last seven seasons pitching in the National League. He allowed a 3.04 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 192 2/3 innings for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, resulting in 2.5 rWAR. However, a 1.97 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 4.15 FIP resulted in just 0.7 fWAR. Volquez will need to overcome these numbers and the transition back to the American League in order to live up to expectations. To his credit, he picked the right club; the Royals are one of the best defensive teams in baseball, and Kauffman Stadium's expansive dimensions are similar to those he just left in Pittsburgh's PNC Park.
News broke last week that the Royals were close to signing designated hitter Kendrys Morales, but the deal was not officially announced until this week. Morales will make $17 million over two seasons, with a mutual option for the 2017 season. Morales only appeared in 98 games in 2014 after failing to sign a contract during the previous offseason. Morales hit just .218/.274/.338 in 401 plate appearances, a far cry from the .813 OPS he put up from 2006 to 2013. While the Royals have received a fair bit of criticism for the move, Morales is just one year removed from a 119 wRC+ with the Seattle Mariners in 2013. At just over half of the money that the Oakland Athletics guaranteed to Billy Butler, Morales could be one of the shrewder pickups of the offseason.
What do you think of the Royals' moves? Do they change their place on the AL Central pecking order?