What Makes Baseball's Offseason So Fascinating?

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Patrick,

Kansas City, duh. After all, some of the hottest Hot Stove news came from Kaufman Stadium, where the Royals pulled off a big trade with Tampa. Yes, you read that right. Imagine how shocked we were in KC. When someone on the local news said that the Royals made a big move, my first thought was that it had something to do with Kate Middleton.

But no, KC sent four top prospects to the Rays in exchange for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis. They are projected to join Ervin Santana, acquired by trade with the Angels, and a re-signed Jeremy Guthrie to make up a totally revamped Royals rotation.

Reaction around baseball has mostly been that the Royals blew it. But why?

It's true that Shields is a projected staff ace who looks more like a number-two. The 30-year-old was a solid, unspectacular 15-10 last year, with a 3.51 ERA. Still, he does have a big appetite for innings, having gobbled up more than 200 in each of the last six seasons.

The club did give up four of their top 20 prospects to make the deal, too. So what? Even after the trading frenzy, KC still has one of baseball's deepest farm systems. Royals GM Dayton Moore may have a weakness for signing veterans past their expiration date, but the guy can find and grow young talent. The one undeniable triumph of his tenure has been turning the club's farm system from awful into the envy of MLB.

Besides, one of those very famous windows of opportunity is about to shut, and it might fall on Moore's neck. The team's first crop of homegrown talent is ripe. Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas are rising stars. With the new pitching arms in place the team has a core group sewn up for at least the next three years.

The eventual world champion Tigers only won 88 games in a weak AL Central. With good luck and weather, the new Royals could equal that total in 2013. Granted "let's squeak into the payoffs" isn't exactly a war cry to set hearts aflame. But it's better than nothing.

Okay, let's say the Royals are, forgive the awful pun, betting the farm on next season. Like that's a bad thing? This franchise hasn't had a winning season since 2003. A little gambling with the future is long, long overdue. Besides, as anyone with an ounce of wisdom will tell you, the future is always now.

What's burning on your hot stove, Jake?

–Hampton

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Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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