Even after sending veterans Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth to Atlanta in a five-player trade that just beat Saturday’s non-waiver deadline, the Royals might not be done dealing.
General manager Dayton Moore reiterated plans to recall first baseman Kila Ka’aihue in the near future — a move that only seems likely if the Royals find a new home for designated hitter/outfielder José Guillen.
“The bottom line is (Ka’aihue) has met every challenge in Triple-A,” Moore said, “and we do need to get him up here as soon as possible.”
Guillen is one of the few pending free agents the Royals still possess after completing three major trades in the last 10 days. Deals are still possible but require that players clear waivers.
“There are always opportunities,” Moore said, “to make your team better as you move forward toward September.”
The Royals believe they did that Saturday in acquiring an intriguing young lefty reliever in addition to some immediate roster help from the Braves for Ankiel and Farnsworth.
Tim Collins, 20, is just 5 feet 7 and 155 pounds but is already drawing raves after compiling a 2.29 ERA with 11 saves in 41 Class AA outings. He has 87 strikeouts and 19 walks in 51 innings.
“He’s a power left-hander,” Moore said, “who is built along the lines of a Billy Wagner with a hard overhand curveball and a plus fastball at times.”
The Royals assigned Collins to Class AAA Omaha.
Outfielder Gregor Blanco, 26, and right-handed reliever Jesse Chavez, 26, are expected to join the Royals in time for this afternoon’s series finale against the Orioles at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals also agreed to pay about $1.8 million of the $2.8 million remaining on the contracts for Ankiel and Farnsworth.
“I’m excited,” Ankiel admitted. “They’re leading the (National League) East. They’re a first-place team, and I’m going to do what I can to try and help them make the World Series.”
Ankiel, 31, signed a one-year deal in January with a mutual option for 2011. He missed nearly three months because of strained right quadriceps before returning July 20. He departs with a .261 average along with four homers and 15 RBIs in 27 games.
Farnsworth, 34, was enjoying one of the best seasons in a 12-year career at 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in 37 games. He is completing a two-year deal signed Dec. 29, 2008.
“I think he (Farnsworth) just felt a comfort level,” manager Ned Yost said, “from the confidence that we had in him. He’s as good as I’ve ever seen him.”
Chavez, 26, is 3-2 with a 5.89 ERA in 28 appearances after being acquired in the offseason from Tampa Bay for All-Star closer Rafael Soriano. Chavez spent the two previous seasons in Pittsburgh.
“Statistically, he’s had some rough outings this year,” Moore admitted, “but we like his arm, and we like his upside.”
Blanco, 26, is a left-handed hitter who batted .251 with 38 steals and a .366 on-base percentage in 144 games as a rookie in 2008. But he spent much of the last two seasons shuttling between the Braves and Class AAA Gwinnett.
“If he’d gotten the chance to play right away,” Moore said, “he’d be a much better player today. It just hasn’t happened for him. He’s going to get an opportunity to show what he can do.”
Collins was in the Toronto system until July 14, when he went to the Braves with veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez as part of a five-player deal that sent shortstop Yunel Escobar to the Blue Jays.
The Royals show no concerns at Collins’ diminutive size.
“Pitchers who are smaller in stature,” Moore said, “if they have an overhand curveball, something that can change planes very fast and with depth, you don’t worry about it as much. He has that, and the numbers speak for themselves.”
The Royals made two trades prior to deadline day:
Third baseman Alberto Callaspo went to the Angels on July 22 for two pitchers, right-hander Sean O’Sullivan and minor-league lefty Will Smith. Sullivan stepped immediately into the rotation, while Smith was assigned to Class A Wilmington.
Outfielder Scott Podsednik went to the Dodgers after last Wednesday’s loss to the Twins for two minor-league players. Catcher Lucas May was assigned to Omaha, while right-handed pitcher Elisaul Pimentel was assigned to Wilmington.