Among the teams shopping for starting pitching on the July trade market, there's one that may surprise you, or even shock you:
Despite having very little chance of contending for a playoff spot this year -- they woke up Tuesday 10 1/2 games out of first place and eight games out of a playoff spot -- the Royals have quietly been making inquiries on pitchers they could acquire now and control through next year.
One big name they've asked about: Matt Garza of the Cubs.
The Royals are determined to add at least one high-quality starting pitcher who could help them contend in 2013, and they understand that it could be easier to obtain that pitcher now rather than wait until this winter. With one of the strongest farm systems in the game, the Royals have trading chips to offer, even without giving up their very top prospects.
The Royals' current rotation is something of a mess, in part because of bad luck with injuries but also because pitchers they were counting on haven't performed. The latest disaster came Monday night, when Jonathan Sanchez (acquired last winter for Melky Cabrera) couldn't make it out of the second inning in a 9-4 loss to the Mariners.
The team planned to call up Vin Mazzaro and Ryan Verdugo on Tuesday, with one of them (likely Verdugo) set to start against the Mariners.
Meanwhile, the Royals have been fielding offers for closer Jonathan Broxton, even though it's not certain they'll trade him. Broxton has expressed some interest in staying in Kansas City, and there's a chance the team could sign him rather than trade him.
The Royals had the same idea last year with Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur. They offered Cabrera a two-year deal that he turned down, then instead signed Francoeur to a two-year deal and eventually dealt Cabrera to the Giants for Sanchez and Verdugo.
That deal has become a disaster, with Cabrera blossoming into an All-Star, while Sanchez has a 7.76 ERA that's the second-worst ever by a Royal with 12 or more starts (Chad Durbin's 8.21 in 16 starts in 2000 is the worst).