The annual Winter Meetings open next week in Dallas. Normally, this is when the free agent field starts to thin out. And with all of the top free agents still on the market, this looks to be an especially active session.

So the question is, will the Royals be active? We know the lineup is basically set. The bullpen has been (hopefully) strengthened with the signing of Broxton. So that leaves the rotation. Currently, there are seven or eight candidates for a starting job in Kansas City, and none of them inspire much – if any – confidence.

Supposedly, the Royals don’t want to go the free agent route. I understand that. They want to keep their fingers crossed and hope their pitching prospects develop for the long term good of the franchise, while the guys in the mix this year routinely give them six strong innings per game. But the Royals could really make a splash if they found a decent starting pitcher on the open market to slot into their rotation. In a weak AL Central, this could be the tipping point between being competitive and making this another year of development.

Usually, the top names are the first ones to sign. The second tier is happy to let the big guys go and grab tons of cash because then it establishes a market for their services. No one wants to leave money on the table.

With that in mind, here’s a quick list of the available free agent starting pitchers, in the order of what I believe to be their demand.

C.J. Wilson
Mark Buehrle
Roy Oswalt
Edwin Jackson
Javier Vazquez

Wow. Not difficult to see why Dayton Moore is shying away from the market. Wilson is the supposed front-runner and will set the pace. Sorry, I’m not a big believer. Whomever dishes him a big contract is going to have buyers remorse. Jackson is underwhelming and it’s shocking that Vazquez – after all his ups and downs – could land on a short list such as this. Oswalt is a gamble – and an expensive one. Buehrle is the only consistent guy out there.

These five will be interesting to watch. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Royals were linked to two or three of the guys listed above. I also wouldn’t be surprised if GMDM went stealth again and grabbed Buehrle or Oswalt on a three year deal.

— Word circulated around Twitter last night that Frank White was out as one of the broadcasters of the games. I’m going to withhold comment for now because I want to see how the Royals handle this. As of this writing, neither Frank, Fox Sports Kansas City or the Royals have said anything.

After the PR nightmare that went along with canceling FanFest, I’ll be watching this very closely.

More soon…