The Royals are World Series winners, which for most fanbases in the league means one thing: it's time to get back to work. The offseason is here for real now, the stove is heating up, and soon we'll be caught up in trade rumors and free agents and all that good stuff.
But even now, before the market's formed, Theo Epstein thinks he's got it all figured out over in Chicago. Flash back a couple weeks, to when the Cubs' president explained how the offseason works:
"The only thing I know for sure," Cubs president Theo Epstein said Monday, "is that whatever team wins the World Series, their particular style of play will be completely en vogue and trumpeted from the rooftops by the media all offseason — and in front offices — as the way to win."
And more specifically in the event the Royals won:
If the Royals win, you need to have speed and athleticism and contact up and down your lineup.
Epstein, of course, is known around these parts for bringing the Red Sox their first World Series in 86 years back in 2004. He did so by exploiting the market's tendency to undervalue certain skills. As such, this should not be read as an endorsement of the Royals' style, or pursuing it in the offseason. Quite the opposite, in fact. If anything, Epstein is saying to stay far, far away.
Consider, for instance, two players of equal overall talent. They're each worth roughly four wins, let's say (and since we're dealing with a hypothetical, we don't even need to worry about the nebulous nature of WAR), but provide that value in very different ways. Player A is a lumbering LF/1B type--think 2013 Mike Napoli--and the other the sort of player who matches the Royals recipe as described above.
Both players should receive the same offers. But by Epstein's estimation, Player A is going to see less demand than Player B this offseason, making Player A the better buy, all else being equal.
It's an interesting thought from one of baseball's better minds, and if it's true, one that's a mixed bag for the Red Sox. By Theo's estimation, the Red Sox probably should have been hoping the Blue Jays would take it down, inspiring teams to go looking for a Hanley Ramirez type. Certainly Boston's two great albatrosses are about as far as you can get from what's likely to be en vogue.
On the other hand, when you look at the players they might want to trade...well, Manuel Margot is pretty much a perfect match. If the Royals fever gets someone to fall in love with the speedy outfielder, then maybe the Red Sox can use him to land a big fish on the trade market.
Really, though, for the Red Sox, this offseason comes down to pitching more than anything else. And unfortunately for them, no World Series result was going to make anyone undervalue great pitchers. Whatever else is currently in fashion, great pitching will always be great pitching, and great pitching is always going to run a high price. Still, an interesting concept on the whole, if one perhaps better suited to a team in a different situation.