The Royals made a move to lengthen their lineup by acquiring Melky Cabrera from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for minor league pitchers A.J. Puckett and Andre Davis. Additionally, the Royals designated pitcher Andrew Edwards for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Cabrera. Cabrera is having a solid offensive season for the White Sox, hitting .295/.336/.436 with a .266 TAv. He has not been good defensively in left field, but that line helps to lengthen the Royals lineup, which was a necessity for them.
The Royals will reportedly pay about $2.5 million of the remaining money on Cabrera’s contract, bringing the total added in the last week to more than $4 million.
I imagine Cabrera will take at bats away from all three of Alex Gordon, Brandon Moss and Jorge Bonifacio, but I would guess Bonifacio is impacted the least given his improvements both offensively and defensively. His .296/.327/.500 line in 114 plate appearances against lefties will give him an edge over both Moss and Gordon against southpaws. I’m not entirely sure where Cabrera will fit in the lineup, but I think you could make an argument for him to hit at the top in the number two spot or after Moustakas in the number seven spot if they want to leave Bonifacio at the top. Either way, this gives the Royals a solid top seven on most nights, which can be very difficult for opposing pitchers to navigate.
The acquisition of Cabrera is sort of an homage to the Royals of the World Series seasons for a couple reasons. The reason on the field is that Cabrera just doesn’t strike out. This year, his strikeout rate is 12.1 percent, and that’s nothing new. It was lower last year and is in line with his career rate of 11.9 percent. That will represent an improvement in that category over whoever he replaces in the lineup on any given day. Additionally, there’s the aspect of clubhouse chemistry. That’s something I didn’t believe in very much until I had the chance to be inside the Royals clubhouse during the championship years. Getting a player as respected and well liked as Cabrera is a big pickup.
It’s not like the Royals got him for free, though. They had to give up their first pick from last season, A.J. Puckett. He, of course, wasn’t a first round pick, but he was their first pick. When I’ve seen Puckett, I’ve seen a pitcher better than the mediocre numbers he’s put up, so I probably like him more than most, but a college pitcher with a 3.90 ERA and an only decent strikeout to walk ratio in a pitcher’s park isn’t very encouraging. He could end up a workhorse in time, but I think his ceiling is number three starter and his likely outcome is back of the rotation arm or middle reliever.
Davis was the Royals 8th round pick in 2015. He’s a big lefty with some potentially good stuff, but he hasn’t had the results either. He’s currently posting a 4.83 in low-A as a 23-year old. The strikeouts are there and the walks are low enough, but he’s giving up a ton of hits and appears to be a pretty big project for the White Sox.
In all, giving that up for a player who can help the Royals reach the postseason and hopefully advance deep into the postseason is a deal you make every day of the week. It also highlights just how difficult a market it is for teams looking to sell rental bats as Cabrera isn’t great, but he’s certainly good enough to help just about every team and was only able to bring back this haul. I was worried they might give up too much for Cabrera if they traded for him, but I loved the idea of bringing him back. Having seen the return, I have to say I really like this move for the Royals and think that with the other move with the Padres, they’re in the driver’s seat for another trip to the postseason.