Carlos Beltran Still a Target for Kansas City Royals After Norichika Aoki Trade

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | It is no secret by now that the Kansas City Royals are interested in free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran, who was in town earlier this week meeting with team officials.

Assuming Beltran could still play viable defense in right field, this courtship makes sense for the Royals -- who have gotten very little production out of the position over the last couple of seasons.

But Kansas City made a thought-provoking move on Thursday, trading left-handed pitcher Will Smith to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Norichika Aoki.

Possessing one of the best (and young) stable of bullpen arms in the league, the Royals simply swapped a strength for a weakness here. But because Aoki will more than likely play right field in Kansas City (he played there regularly for the Brewers during his first two years in the league), the burning question became: How does this affect a potential reunion with Beltran and the organization?

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, it doesn't -- tweeting that the acquisition of Aoki does not change anything in the Royals' pursuit of Beltran.

Rosenthal later pointed out that if Kansas City is to sign Beltran, it increases the likelihood of Billy Butler being traded in a subsequent move.

This would be necessary for the Royals to not only keep payroll in check but to allow Beltran to see regular duty as the team's designated hitter, which would protect a huge investment from the increased chance of injury.

Bob Dutton, formerly of The Kansas City Star and covering the Royals through the Winter Meetings, pointed out on Twitter that Dayton Moore says that the trade for Aoki does not mean their offseason is "complete" and that they are still in pursuit of a middle-of-the-order bat -- which could point to Beltran.

Bringing in Aoki makes for a crowded situation in the Royals' outfield, but potentially adding Beltran to the mix -- assuming he would still see time in right field -- forces Kansas City's hand with players like Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, David Lough and Justin Maxwell.

Until Beltran signs any deal, expect his name to be linked back to the Royals.

Jeremy Sickel has successfully created and operated numerous websites. His work can be read on Yahoo and Bleacher Report, and he has also appeared on various podcasts and sports talk shows around the country. Interact with Jeremy on Twitter @JeremySickel.
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