The Royals, Dodgers and White Sox worked a three-team deal out Thursday evening that might be more about the long-term ramifications in terms of payroll than the players that Kansas City received.
White Sox Receive
Joakim Soria RH Reliever
The White Sox add a pair of relievers who they can put toward the back end of their bullpen without having to give up any major prospects in the process. For a team in a major market, just a couple years into their rebuild, the $9m the White Sox take on in the Soria contract isn’t a whole lot for a team that prior to this deal lacked a closer candidate. Will he get them over the top? No, but he offers them a veteran reliever they can lean on while their young arms develop.
Scott Alexander LH Reliever
Jake Peters 3b
The Dodgers clearly get the jewel of this deal in Alexander, one year after the left-handed reliever established himself as a true fireman last season for Ned Yost. Despite the Dodgers being unwilling to take on payroll, they get an extreme groundball pitcher with five years of team control in his inexpensive seasons for a pair of prospects that are fringy and weren’t likely to see the light of day on a roster stacked to the brim.
Trevor Oaks RHP Triple-A
Erick Mejia Utility Infielder Double-A
Soria $9m salary relief
This deal is just as much about the $9m the Royals are trimming from payroll as it is the players that they are getting in return. Losing Soria’s contract off the payroll lowers the outgo to approximately $109m for the Royals which gets them one step closer to freeing up the necessary space needed to resign Eric Hosmer.
Trevor Oaks – An athletic right-handed starter, Oaks fits into what is becoming quite the logjam of fringe major league starters between Kansas City and Omaha. Last season Oaks was limited by an oblique strain but was solid for the Triple-A squad when healthy, creating a 51% groundball rate against a 4-1 K-BB rate. The fastball works low to mid 90s, touching 96 next to his cutter/slider and sinker. The fastball and sinker work as a pair to attack hitters and get groundballs before he tries to finish off hitters with the slider. In addition to that mix, he also works in a changeup that lagged behind without use but could develop into an average major league pitch. Oaks goes to the front of the line in a competition among Eric Skoglund, Scott Barlow, Andres Machado and a few others in an attempt to take the 5th or 6th man in the rotation.
Erick Mejia – Originally acquired by the Dodgers for Joe Wieland in 2016 Mejia clubbed seven home runs this past season after hitting just five during the previous five seasons. An above average runner with a tick above average arm he likely tops out as a major league utility guy who can play second, third and shortstop while providing some speed off the bench. Expect him to head to Omaha this season to add a little depth and protection behind Raul Mondesi and alongside Ramon Torres and Nicky Lopez should Mondesi continue his struggles at the major league level. The best possible comp is likely that of Erick Aybar, the former Angels shortstop.
Overall this deal is all about creating salary space in order to re-sign Eric Hosmer while adding to the depth of their current backend rotation. Left-handed relief is a position of strength for Kansas City with Eric Stout ready to compete for a spot in the bullpen and Richard Lovelady pushing hard behind him. This offseason’s theme thus far for GMDM has been to add young and controllable backend rotation starters with Oaks adding to Barlow, also of the Dodgers, with Rule 5 arms Burch Smith and Brad Keller. Expect another deal of a Royals starting pitcher to be coming very soon behind this one.