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How 'Bout Them Royals!

Very quietly, the Kansas City Royals (that's right, the Kansas City Royals) have put together a great offseason. Kansas City has been the A.L. Central's doormat ever since the Tigers lost 119 games, but they have improved dramatically thanks to a series of savvy moves. Here is a quick recap of what the Royals have done this offseason as of tonight:

  • Signed 2B Mark Grudzielanek to a 1 year, $4 million deal with a 2007 option: Though Grudzielanek is old, he is still very productive and will be a noticeable upgrade at second base over Ruben Gotay. I personally thought Grudzielanek was one of the 10 best free agents available and to get him at such an affordable price was remarkable. Excellent move.
  • Signed SP Scott Elarton to a 2 year, $8 million deal: Elarton is not a great pitcher, but he will improve the Royals staff at a very affordable price. Another solid acquisition.
  • Signed 1B Doug Mientkiewicz to a 1 year, $1.85 million deal, with incentives: Mike Sweeney is a bad defensive first-baseman, so signing a late-inning defensive replacement was a smart idea. Mientkiewicz is arguably the best defensive first-baseman in the game and could end up being a decent pinch-hitting option as well.
  • Signed C Paul Bako to a 1 year deal: A great backup catcher, though he may push John Buck to start or platoon if Buck does not improve. Another guy which will help the team.
  • Signed RP Elmer Dessens to a 2-year contract: Once again, not a premiere pitcher but one which will improve the pitching staff.
  • Traded Rule 5 Draft Pick Fabio Castro to the Rangers for INF Esteban German: I originally thought German my start at second base, but with the acquisition of Mark Grudzielanek he will now be a reserve. German can play all over the infield and he will be invaluable on the bench, both as a pinch-runner and a pinch-hitter. A fabulous trade for the Royals.
  • Traded RP Jonah Bayliss to the Pirates for SP Mark Redman: Though Bayliss is a nice looking relief prospect, the Royals have other good-looking relief prospects. They needed a reliable starter and that is exactly what Mark Redman is. Another very good deal for the Royals.
To a certain extent, it is hard for horrible teams like the Royals to make moves that will hurt them because almost any player brought in is bound to be better than the predecessor. Still, it is nice to see a bad team making a legitimate effort to improve. The Royals probably will not contend for the playoffs this year, but do not be surprised if they are significantly better. Also, it is likely that many of the players the Royals have signed this off-season will be hot commodities at the trading deadline, meaning Kansas City will have the opportunity to acquire several good prospects. The Royals have had a great off-season and they should reap the benefits down the road.