Royals shift focus to depleted bullpen

Royals shift focus to depleted 'pen

KANSAS CITY -- Now Royals general manager Dayton Moore has another project: rebuilding the bullpen.

Moving to increase run production, Moore has obtained fleet center fielder Coco Crisp and slugging first baseman Mike Jacobs but at the cost of two of his top right-handed relievers.

Ramon Ramirez went to Boston in the Crisp trade on Wednesday. Leo Nunez went to Florida in the Jacobs trade on Oct. 30.

One reason that Moore felt he could part with the two setup men was because he's got a strong closer in Joakim Soria. Now replacing Ramirez and Nunez is a priority.

"Absolutely," Moore said. "We've weakened our bullpen. We're fortunate to have one of the best closers in the game in Joakim Soria, so we feel good about our potential to rebuild the bullpen. It's one of the trickier situations in baseball, one of the more unpredictable areas of the game, but we do have Joakim at the back end."

By obtaining Crisp and Jacobs, the Royals have created a surplus at first base and in the outfield. Obviously, Moore has some trading chips at hand.

In discussing the Crisp deal, Moore mentioned that it freed David DeJesus "to play multiple positions in the outfield" as he moves from center.

Perhaps, but DeJesus, who turned in a solid .307 season and knocked in 73 runs, seems the logical left fielder to go with Crisp in center and Jose Guillen in right. Yet the Royals also have Mark Teahen, who's started in both left and right and is considered an everyday player.

Also in the crowd is Joey Gathright, a speedster who was the fourth outfielder last season.

It's been speculated that Teahen might be traded, although word from Chicago downplays the Cubs' reputed interest. Still, Teahen is a left-handed batter with power (15 homers), good baserunning skills and versatility.

Hot Stove

Along with Jacobs at first base, the Royals also have Ross Gload, Billy Butler, Ryan Shealy and Kila Ka'aihue in the picture.

And, given Teahen's ability to play third base, his original position, that could even open third baseman Alex Gordon to the market.

The deal for Crisp adds his $5.75 million salary to the Royals' payroll. There is also an $8 million club option for 2010, with a $500,000 buyout.

"We'll certainly have limitations within in our market to where we can go with our payroll but, at the same time, we have great support from the Glass family to do what we need to do to improve our baseball team," Moore said.

The addition of Crisp means that the Royals already have committed $46.15 million to 10 players for 2009. Recently, Moore said the payroll could go up to $70 million if necessary.

And getting more relief help probably won't be cheap.

"We will not be able to replace Ramon Ramirez and Leo Nunez for what we were paying them and the type of production that they gave us," Moore said. "That's the sacrifice we felt we had to make."

Last season, Nunez made $405,000 and Ramirez $397,000.

Moore has rebuilt the Royals' bullpen before. In 2007, he added David Riske and Octavio Dotel with success. Last year, he brought in Ramirez and Ron Mahay to good effect. Obviously, the development of Soria was a huge help.

"To trade productive relievers can be very, very risky, and what we had to do is evaluate what we had in our position players to do what we had to do to make our team better," Moore said.

Now he's getting ready for his next move.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.