A month ago, I penned this letter (sans pen) for David Glass, directed at disgruntled Royals fans.
Yesterday, Baseball America's Ben Badler released his 2013 International Spending By Team List. The Royals ranked No. 7. The Royals' spending total came in at $3.61 million, just ahead of the Mariners and less than $400,000 out of the fifth highest total.
The teams ahead of the Royals, in order, were the Rangers, Cubs, Dodgers, Indians, Red Sox and Astros. The Rangers and Cubs more than doubled the Royals' expenditures, but the Royals were within $1 million of the deep-pocketed Dodgers and every other team ahead of them.
Of course, none of these totals include money spent on Cuban or Asian players who are at least 23 years old and have played in a foreign league for at least three seasons. Such players would be Jose Abreu (White Sox), Alexander Guerrero (Dodgers) or Masahiro Tanaka (who signed with the Yankees after the calendar turned), for example.
So, on one hand, no, the Royals still aren't major players when it comes to international signings. Their biggest signing out of Cuba remains Noel Arguelles, who has not and never will live up to his five-year, $6.9 million contract. Their most noteworthy Japanese signing is a tie between Hideo Nomo, who posted an 18.69 ERA in the final 4.1 innings of his Major League career in 2008 with the Royals, and Darrell May, who isn't Japanese.
But on the other, the Royals are at least trying to compete with their peers in areas they're capable of competing.
It's no mistake the Rangers and Cubs both spent more than $8 million on international players last year. Look at the men running those franchises — Jon Daniels and Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer, respectively. The Rangers have been one of the most competitive teams in baseball the last handful of years and the Cubs are the sleeping giant of the National League with all the highly regarded prospects knocking on Wrigley Field's door.
There is talent to be had internationally and the Rangers and Cubs know it. The only catch is it's usually 16- or 17-year-old talent. So teams must go into the July 2 signing period knowing A) the players they sign are years from making a noticeable impact and B) a majority of them may not even make it to the states. But when and if it does, look out.
So here we have the Royals flexing a bit of muscle on the international market. It's not as sexy as signing the top Cuban or Asian players. But one signing from last July still stands out to me. The signing of 16-year-old Italian shortstop Marten Gasparini. MLB.com ranked him the No. 4 international prospect. He was generally regarded as the best prospect to come out of the fledgling developmental leagues of Europe.
Who knows what Gasparini will be five years from now — let alone this season — but at least the Royals are being bold in their own way. And they're doing it with the financial support of David Glass.
In addition to increasing team payroll to the neighborhood of $90 million for 2014, Glass has allowed his staff to go out and sign international talent more aggressively than most MLB teams and he hasn't let potential high school or college price tags prevent the team from pursuing players in the amateur draft.
I myself questioned the Hunter Dozier selection in the first round of the 2013 draft, but the Royals turned around and took Sean Manaea in the supplemental round and gave him $3.55 million — the most ever for a supplemental round pick.
Whether or not Glass has entrusted the right man to spend all his money remains highly questionable and the root of all potential problems for the Royals at this point. But I still don't get how Royals fans can continue to vilify Glass and question his monetary commitment to winning.
Considering the market the Royals play in and the lack of fan support even during a winning season in 2013, Glass has done his part. At this point, it's up to his right-hand man to put the right pieces on the 25-man roster as the offseason comes to a close and deliver the results in 2014 we've spent years anticipating.
-Fire Dayton Moore