As we continue our look at Royals trade targets, I move from the pitching side to the position player side. The Royals are pretty well set at just about every position with the exception of designated hitter. They obviously signed Brandon Moss to mostly fill that hole, but he’s struggled mightily. Jorge Soler has been given a bit of an opportunity there, but he’s also struggled. The way I see it, the Royals could either look to acquire a player who could simply work in as the DH or they could acquire an outfielder to push Jorge Bonifacio to the DH role more often. Either way would provide the necessary upgrade. Plus, I have one bonus player listed that everyone will enjoy.
Take a look at the starting pitching options on the trade market.
Here are the position players I think they will be targeting in the next few weeks, listed alphabetically:
Matt Adams – Things haven’t exactly gone as planned for Adams, who burst onto the scene in 2013 with a solid .284/.335/.503 season with 17 homers, but he didn’t really build on it. Now in his age-28 season, he’s been given an opportunity with the Braves and has been outstanding, hitting .292/.338/.608 with a .305 TAv and 13 homers in 186 plate appearances with them. The Braves are trying to make it work with Freddie Freeman at third and Adams at first, but I can’t imagine they’d turn down the right offer for him. And he’s under team control for next season when the Royals might find themselves needing a stopgap first baseman.
Jay Bruce – I think the Royals have been rumored to be in on Bruce for the last 28 seasons, but I can’t confirm whether or not that’s true. He’s had a nice year for the Mets, hitting .266/.334/.538 with a .302 TAv and actually playing not horrible outfield. He has 23 homers and will strike out a bit but he has decent strike zone judgment and power that will play anywhere. He has about $6 million left on his deal, so he’s a little expensive, but I think this could be a decent fit.
Melky Cabrera – This one is kind of a longshot, but the Melkman has had a decent season, hitting .286/.332/.416. His RBI numbers are inflated by some crazy hitting with runners in scoring position, but he’d be an upgrade over what the Royals have gotten from the DH spot. He has about $7 million left on his deal this season, so the White Sox would need to eat some money and there’s the whole trading within the division thing, but he’s at least someone to think about for a minute before moving on.
Ezequiel Carrera – While this year is a bit of an aberration for Carrera in terms of overall numbers, he’s been a contributor the last two seasons from an OBP perspective. His .270 TAv would be a career high, but for a guy who can handle center at times and either corner, he’s a really nice fit for this team. Plus, he’s under team control through 2019, which is nice considering he’ll stay relatively cheap through arbitration. He’s not a perfect fit, but his rough defensive numbers aren’t in line with what he’s previously displayed, so he’d help on both sides of the ball.
Zack Cozart – This is the one that’ll make people happy. I really don’t see the Royals moving away from Alcides Escobar, but a guy can dream, right? He’ll likely cost way too much in terms of prospects, but he’s hitting .316/.394/.547 with pop and playing good shortstop. How great would this be?
Rajai Davis – Davis is having a terrible season, and I don’t think his acquisition would actually be as a starter, but it would be nice to have a guy who can handle center to back up Cain for when he gets ejected and/or injured. He’s coming off a decent enough year with Cleveland, and given how bad he’s been, the Royals may be able to get him for an old Aaron Brooks baseball card.
Jarrod Dyson – Here’s my favorite. He’s on his way to a career high in plate appearances and is hitting .258/.340/.391 with, yes, five home runs. The offense isn’t what you acquire him for, but he’s done a really nice job this season and is showing that his .340 OBP and .388 SLG last year is no fluke. He swings at strikes and he uses his speed quite well. Defensively, the Royals could put Dyson in right field, move Bonifacio to the DH spot and get back to having that amazing outfield defense. With just a few months left before reaching free agency, the cost to acquire Dyson likely wouldn’t be exorbitant. I think this is a move that could really help the team.
Carlos Gomez – If the Rangers sell, Gomez is an interesting name to keep an eye on. He’s hitting .248/.328/.477 with a .270 TAv, so he has some pop and can play solid defense. He hasn’t played much right field, which is where he’d need to be in Kansas City, but you’d think he’d be able to pick that up pretty well. He fits in pretty well with the Royals as he doesn’t have great strike zone judgment, but he makes it work when he’s going well. He’s owed about $5.5 million the rest of the season, so between that and his lack of control, I bet he wouldn’t be too terribly expensive.
Dee Gordon – I didn’t want to include him in this list, but since his name is in rumors connected to the Royals, I figured I better. He’s known as a very good defender at second and has put up a .295/.342/.358 line, so he’d fit well at the top of a lineup with that OBP and his blazing speed. He also doesn’t walk or strikeout much, so as a player, he’s kind of made for the Royals. That said, he’s owed more than $40 million through the 2020 season, which is a lot to pay for a player who has topped a .400 SLG just once in his career. He’s also coming off a year where he was suspended for PED use. I’m not saying he shouldn’t get to play anymore, but that has to factor into the analysis. Honestly, I just don’t see it because of the money, but I guess he would be an upgrade for the Royals right now if they acquired him.
Matt Joyce – Joyce is a perennial favorite of mine, even when struggling. It’s because he knows the strike zone. Last year, he posted a .403 OBP, and while he’s not near that this year, he’s showing off his ability to work a walk again with a .220/.330/.409 line. He has some pop, but he’s not very good defensively, so it becomes the same pick your poison the Royals currently have with their outfield and DH spots, but he’s also signed for next season, which is nice.
Jed Lowrie – He’s had a really nice start to the season, hitting .279/.346/.458 with a .275 TAv and has been okay at second base. The thought here is to slot him at second, move Whit Merrifield to right field and Bonifacio to DH. I suppose you could just slot Lowrie at DH as well with his not being so great defensively, but either way would likely work. He has just about $3 million left on this year’s deal and has a really reasonable $6 million club option for next year, which could be quite useful given the uncertainty around third base in 2018. He knows the strike zone well and has some pop. He could also be a basically perfect number two hitter for this club. There will likely be a fair amount of demand for him, so he may fall outside the Royals prospect price range.
Nick Markakis – I don’t make the rules, and the rules state that Markakis has to be on any list where the Royals are searching for offensive help. While his lack of power is pretty alarming, he’s settled into a solid average/good OBP guy who I think would be a nice fit in the number two spot for the Royals. He’s hitting .284/.364/.393 this year with a .273 TAv. He’s expensive with $5 million owed this year and another $10.5 million next season, but that might keep his price down. He’s not nearly the defender he once was, so you don’t get an upgrade there, but this might not be the worst thing in the world, though he wouldn’t be my first or even second or third choice.
Seth Smith – If you showed me two sets of stats and one was Smith’s while the other was Joyce’s, I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell you which was which before Joyce’s big OBP year last year. I’m just being honest. They’re similar players, though Smith doesn’t have the same strike zone judgment that Joyce does. Still, he’s hitting .259/.329/.440 this year with a .262 TAv. He’s not a great piece, and won’t help the defense, but he’d be an improvement over what the Royals have gotten from the DH spot. He’s owed a bit more than $3 million the rest of the season, which is quite reasonable, so maybe he’d be a fit.
The list isn’t very deep, but that’s partly because they likely won’t be looking for anything other than a way to upgrade their DH role. My choice would definitely be Dyson, who we know would be a huge clubhouse boost and would turn the outfield defense into something very, very special.