NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Royals are more willing to trade outfield prospect Wil Myers than major-league designated hitter Billy Butler in their search for a top-level starting pitcher, and that should tell you a lot about their hoped-for timetable for contending.
They're trying to win now.
The 21-year-old Myers may well become the better player of the two. But for the next couple of years, at least, the Royals believe a lineup with Butler (who will turn 27 in April) gives them a better chance.
The Royals have pursued nearly every top pitcher who is available, both on the free-agent market and the trade market. As of Tuesday, they weren't said to be close to a deal with any of them.
One rival executive predicted that the Royals will eventually end up making a deal with the Rays, possibly for James Shields.
The Royals aren't giving teams a firm no on Butler. They are willing to discuss him, but if it comes to him or Myers, Butler is the one they'd rather keep. Of course, in their perfect world, they'd be able to keep both.
Besides Shields, David Price and others with the Rays, pitchers known to be available on the trade market include Ricky Nolasco (Marlins), Justin Masterson (Indians) and possibly Jon Lester of the Red Sox. The Red Sox, though, seem less motivated to deal a pitcher than the other teams on the list.