Yesterday, I took a look at the starting pitchers on the trade market who the Royals could look to acquire. I think that’s a bigger need than an outfielder or any other position player, but given that they’re reportedly in the market for both, it’s a good idea to take a look at both sides to see what else is out there. Up until a few days ago, I couldn’t see them acquiring an infielder because they seemed happy with what they’ve gotten from Whit Merrifield and are definitely happy with the contributions from Cheslor Cuthbert. Now, after Merrifield sat over the weekend, I’m not so sure. Anyway, without further ado, here’s a look at the position players the Royals could be looking toward on the trade market this month.
Carlos Beltran – This would be a pretty good story at the very least. There’s been rumors of Beltran’s return to the Royals since the offseason he signed with the Yankees, and there’s even more stories now about him coming back next year to take over the DH role. For now, though, the Royals have a need in the outfield where Beltran technically plays. His defense isn’t what you’d call good, which is kind of sad because we still remember him as one of the better center fielders, but he can stand out there, which is nice. He doesn’t work a walk like he used to, but he still has legitimate power and he’s not just a creation of Yankee Stadium. He hasn’t hit as many home runs away from there, but he’s hit well. This one makes some sense as he’s a pending free agent. He is owed about $7 million the rest of the year, so that may be an obstacle for the Royals.
Charlie Blackmon – It seems like Blackmon has been on the market for about 10 years, but that’s simply not true, so stop thinking it. He can hit, he can play a serviceable center field (but I think he’d be better in a corner in Kansas City) and he can give you some pop. There’s always a concern with Colorado guys, but Blackmon doesn’t have as big of a home/road split this year as you’d probably expect. He’s currently in his first year of arbitration and is owed a little more than $1.5 million the rest of this year before he has two more arbitration years coming up. My guess is those will cost about $16 million, but he could also be traded again. I think he’s going to cost a lot, but he could fill a void the Royals have had in right field for awhile and fill it for the next few seasons.
Jay Bruce – This is another guy who has seemingly been on every trade list for years. He almost got traded before the season, but it was nixed by a bad physical by Michael Saunders. All Bruce has done is turn in one of the best offensive years of his career. He’s never going to be mistaken for a batting champ, but he’s hit much better this year and that’s made his OBP worthwhile. He doesn’t walk that much, but he does strike out less than you’d think (still a fair amount). One thing I liked about him last year that I like about him again is that he doesn’t make that much soft contact. I almost wonder if he’d be a better hitter in a bigger park because he has enough power to hit it out of every park. Getting some deeper gaps might help him out. It won’t help him defensively, though the scouting reports and the metrics disagree on Bruce. He’s owed about $6 million the rest of this season and there’s a $13 million option for next year. He’ll be in demand. This is a fit that I don’t think looks as good on paper as it would on the field, but I also think it’s a longshot given Bruce’s popularity in this market.
Kole Calhoun – I’m not even sure if Calhoun gets traded, but as I mentioned when going over the pitchers, the Angels really need to regroup their farm system. Dealing Calhoun would make some sense, though it would probably weaken them even more than they’d prefer while they still have that Trout guy. Calhoun is a little like Alex Gordon. He plays excellent defense (in right field, though), works a walk and has some power. He doesn’t strike out quite as much as Gordon and he’s a few years younger, but they’re kind of similar to me. He’s due to make about $1.5 million the rest of this year and then has three more years of arbitration, so he won’t be cheap, costing presumably about $22-$25 million over those three seasons, but given the control, I’d be willing to give up a fair amount for Calhoun than some of the other rentals.
Khris Davis – I mentioned Davis before the season and before he was traded to the A’s, and here he is again. The game is power and that’s really about it. He doesn’t hit for much of an average and he doesn’t walk very much. But he does hit for power. Did I mention he has power? This is not a great option. He’s only played left field in the big leagues, and he doesn’t play it well. If anything, this would be a situation where the Royals could look to him to hold down right field and then shift to the DH spot next year. The A’s gave up a couple decent prospects to get him and would likely want at least that in return, which I don’t think is worth it personally.
Carlos Gonzalez – Here’s probably the best position player on the trade market, so that immediately puts the Royals at a disadvantage, though if the Rockies find themselves especially keen on someone like Jorge Bonifacio, I could see a deal finding its way to the surface. Coors Field makes Gonzalez a monster, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good player outside of there. He plays quality defense and can still hit enough to make a difference. The power doesn’t play nearly as well outside of Coors, but I still think he’s probably a 16-22 home run guy away from that great environment. He’s not cheap. He’s owed around $8 million the rest of this year and $20 million next year. I don’t see the Royals paying that or giving up a different prospect to get the Rockies to pay some of it, but he’s available, so here he is.
Brandon Guyer – I’m not a fan, but if the Rays are open for business, Guyer will draw some attention. He’s not especially good defensively and he’s not much of a hitter, but he gets on base using the skill of getting hit by a pitched baseball. I would imagine acquiring Guyer would be with the hopes of catching lightning in a bottle and him getting hot at the right time. Also, he probably wouldn’t cost too much to pick up. Plus, he actually does hit lefties very well, so that could be a fit for him with the Royals. He’s owed a bit more than $500k the rest of this year and then has two more years of arbitration. I could see a fit, I guess, but it would be a pretty meh acquisition.
Nick Markakis – This right here might be my least favorite name on the list for the Royals to acquire unless it comes at basically no cost. He works walks, but that’s pretty much it at this point in his career. It’s not that the skill of working a walk isn’t valuable, but the Royals need more than that. This year, his average has plummeted and he still doesn’t have any power. Plus, he’s not especially good defensively anymore, and he is owed about $27 million more through 2018. Please don’t do this, Royals.
Steve Pearce – I wanted the Royals to sign Pearce as a platoon partner for Jarrod Dyson back in the winter, but they didn’t listen. He’s currently on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, but he was hitting .322/.393/.540 before getting hurt. Pearce can play outfield, first base and even a little second. You probably don’t want him playing second too often, but with his stick, against a good lefty, that could be worth it. Yes, he crushes lefties. He’s hitting .383/.473/.766 against them in 55 plate appearances. He’s just on a one-year deal and is owed a bit more than $2 million the rest of the way, but he could be a really nice fit.
Josh Reddick – I’m not sure a more perfect player has ever existed at the trade deadline for a team than Reddick for the Royals. They’re on the lookout for a lefty-hitting outfielder. Well, Reddick plays excellent defense in right field, hardly ever strikes out and actually works walks. He has power, but not as much as you’d probably like from your right fielder. Basically he’s about the best Royals fit in baseball and he doesn’t even play for the Royals. He’s also only owed a bit north of $3 million the rest of the season. That’s not to say he’s a perfect player. He really struggles against lefties and he’s already dealt with an injury this season. Still, picking up Reddick and slotting him into the second spot in the batting order could do wonders for this lineup. He’s a free agent after the season, so the cost may not be prohibitive, but he’ll also be coveted by many teams. This one is very interesting to me.
Rickie Weeks – He was once a very good offensive second baseman for the Brewers, but fell on really hard times defensively and his offense declined to make him basically not playable at second. Now he’s an outfielder and after a rough go of it last year, he’s really picked things up and is now hitting decently for the Diamondbacks in a reserve role. The bad news is that his defense is pretty terrible. I don’t even think he’s a real option, but he’s owed next to nothing and the Diamondbacks would probably deal him, so why not include him?
Gordon Beckham – You want a second baseman? This could be the best fit out there for the Royals. Beckham never really found it with the White Sox after a promising debut, but he’s doing a nice job in a utility role for the Braves. He works a walk, doesn’t strike out a ton and plays a decent second base. I’m not convinced he’s actually better than Merrifield, but he’s having a better year and is super cheap. I think he’d be a benefit to the Royals and can’t cost much in the way of prospects or money as he’s owed well less than $1 million the rest of the season.
Andres Blanco – Remember when Blanco was considered the shortstop of the future for the Royals and he was in the big leagues at the age of 20? Somehow he resurfaced with the Phillies a couple years ago and has been a valuable utility player for them. He’s seen time at every infield position and a little in the outfield as well. He’s not having nearly as good of a year offensively as he did last year and he’s not the defensive wizard he was coming through the Royals system, but he might be a nice fit as a utility guy in Kansas City. He’ll be a free agent after the season and isn’t making much money. Keep an eye on this one.
Zack Cozart – This is an admittedly imperfect fit, but I’ve heard some things about the Royals having interest. Cozart is a fantastic defensive shortstop with some power that would actually play at Kauffman Stadium (just not as well as in his home bandbox, though he has more homers on the road). The reason it’s imperfect is that the Royals have a shortstop already and neither Cozart nor Escobar has much experience at second base, if any. Still, Cozart would add to the Royals lineup, so if they feel comfortable with moving one of the shortstops to the other side of the bag, they could have something. He’s signed cheaply this year with a little less than $1.5 million remaining and then has a year of arbitration left before hitting free agency. The demand for him isn’t as high as I would have thought, but he’s a solid player, so he won’t be able to be acquired cheaply. I don’t see it happening, but it’s an interesting name to think about.
Daniel Descalso – I’m not spending much time on this. He’s not especially good in any facet, but he’s hitting well this year and can play multiple positions. And he’s cheap. So there’s that.
Yunel Escobar – The Royals don’t really need a third baseman or a shortstop and Escobar hasn’t played second base since 2007, but I’ve heard his name mentioned. He’s had a really nice season and does have a history with Dayton Moore as he was a part of the Braves organization way back then. If you feel comfortable putting him at second for two months, he could be a fit. I wouldn’t personally feel comfortable, but a guy who has hit well over .300 with a .370+ OBP since the start of last season isn’t something to turn your nose up at if he becomes available. He’s owed a little more than $3 million the rest of this season, though some of that is paid by Washington. He has a team option for $7 million next year. I don’t think he would require a huge haul, but I’m not sure why the Angels would trade him unless they get an offer that’s more than he’s worth.
Jed Lowrie – You’re not acquiring Lowrie for his defense, but he can really help a lineup out. He’s a quality hitter who will work a walk. Strangely, his power has somewhat disappeared this year. He plays a nearly competent second base, but the offensive upgrade is something that I think would be well worth the risk on his defense. He’s owed about $3.5 million more this year and then is owed $6.5 million next year with a team option for $6 million. He’s not the perfect player for the Royals, but he could hold down second base for the rest of this year and into next year until Mondesi is ready when he can be used as trade bait again.
Eduardo Nunez – This has been a breakout season for Nunez that hasn’t exactly come out of nowhere. It was easy to miss this last season, but Nunez was solid for the Twins last year as well. I’m not sure there’s a great fit here because he doesn’t play much second base, but if he could, this would make some sense. He doesn’t walk much, but he doesn’t strike out hardly at all either. He has tons of speed, so he might fit perfectly at the top of a Ned Yost lineup. He’s very cheap and will be entering his final year of arbitration next season, so the Twins don’t have to move him because the return likely won’t be fantastic anyway, but he could be a fit.
Yangervis Solarte – I don’t think anyone could have predicted that Solarte would have the season he’s had for the Padres. He’s played mostly third, but he has manned second a little bit this season. He’s not going to remind anyone of Roberto Alomar, but he isn’t going to kill you either. He can work a walk and doesn’t strike out much. He’s even developed a little power. He’d actually be a near perfect fit for the number two spot in the batting order, but could moonlight as a leadoff man. I think the Padres would ask a lot as he isn’t even arbitration eligible until next season. He did just turn 29, so there isn’t much additional upside, but he could be a nice plug and play option for the Royals for the next few seasons and, like Lowrie, give them a trade chip if everything works out with the guys already in the organization.