LAS VEGAS | One tantalizing rumor after another chased the Royals through the long angling corridors of the Bellagio hotel and casino Tuesday as the baseball industry worked through the second full day of its annual meetings.
The whopper concerned a whopper to send right-hander Zack Greinke and outfielder José Guillen to Atlanta for outfielder Jeff Francouer and a number of other prospects.
Then came word the Chicago Cubs were coming hard after outfielders David DeJesus and Mark Teahen to fill their need for a left-handed bat.
And, finally, speculation surfaced that outfielder Jermaine Dye could be returning to the Royals through a trade with the Chicago White Sox.
General manager Dayton Moore shot down all three rumors even as he acknowledged each bit of speculation contained sufficient truths to tantalize those who heard it into repeating it.
“It’s distracting,” he said. “I understand that, in a way, it’s important for our game. It’s people sitting around and discussing things. They’re talking baseball. But from my viewpoint, it’s distracting.”
Moore did admit the Royals are moving closer to signing a free-agent reliever -- their preference is believed to be Kyle Farnsworth -- in their quest to replenish a unit thinned by trades that sent Leo Nuñez to Florida and Ramon Ramirez to Boston.
As for everything else, Moore said, “There’s nothing to discuss about any possible trades at this point in time.” Nothing close, either, it seems.
The rumor concerning Braves started, it appears, in speculative talk among scouts from both clubs. Trades often start with such talks, and this was a natural because Moore acknowledges admiration for Francouer.
Plus, the Royals haven’t yet been able to connect with Greinke on a long-term contract and would welcome the financial flexibility of shedding Guillen’s $24 million salary over the next two years. “I can understand why people would speculate,” Moore admitted. “Jeff is coming off a bad year, and they need pitching. We’ve, obviously, brought in a lot of Atlanta people and players from Atlanta.
“If anybody was in the same situation that I was in, they would do the same thing because it’s information that you have.”
Talks stalled even before reaching either club’s upper-management level. In fact, Atlanta general manager Frank Wren said Moore has “never” inquired into Francouer’s availability.
The Royals, from all appearances, do not want to trade Greinke, who showed signs of blossoming last season when he finished 13-10 with a 3.47 ERA in 32 starts.
“We’re working toward putting the best team we can on the field for next year,” Moore said. “Being able to compete is predicated on our pitching staff, and we feel Zack Greinke is one of the best young pitchers in the game.
“One thing about Zack Greinke is when he pitches, it covers up a lot of holes on our team. So if we move him, we have to get players back who fill the holes that he covers up.”
The Royals, sources indicate, are unlikely to send Greinke to Atlanta in a swap for Francouer unless the Braves accept Guillen and his entire salary while also surrendering shortstop Yunel Escobar and one, and possibly two, other top prospects.
The Braves might be willing to accept Guillen and his salary, as a bat to replace Francouer, but seem likely to balk at dealing away anything more than Francouer and a mid-level prospect.
So much for any deal.
Moore indicated the Royals have a similarly high price for DeJesus and have no interest in trading Teahen -- even though Teahen lost his spot in the outfield recently when the club acquired Coco Crisp from Boston for Ramirez.
“We like our outfield,” Moore said. “We like the depth of our outfield. We like the production of our outfield as is.”
The Dye rumor, in that light, made little sense unless accompanied by other moves.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, call 816-234-4352 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.