Reading between the lines of what Jeffrey Flanagan wrote at Royals.com leads me to believe the Royals are very close, or have a deal in place, to trade Danny Duffy. Don’t be shocked if they are just mulling the options on whether or not to pull the trigger based on Eric Hosmer finishing a deal with the club. While this may not seem that logical to some, it’s likely the Royals view 2021 as the year the competitive window opens once again. At that point Hosmer and Salvador Perez would be 31 and GMDM would have had the time to reload a farm with a few of those players starting to trickle in to take over.
The Royals brass has talked highly of their young players in the system and was reluctant to part with any besides Esteury Ruiz, despite a lacking farm from which to trade and a major league team that was lingering in the wildcard race. With a current projected payroll around $112 million, a $20 million Hosmer deal would likely mean they need to trim back $15-20m to get near the $110m budget they mentioned earlier this offseason. Unfortunately, trading Duffy’s $14m contract seems like the most logical way to trim the needed payroll to get the Royals near that $110m mark.
If they were to make a trade of Duffy then one team that stands out as a very likely match is the Milwaukee Brewers. Beyond the fact that the Royals have traded a young pitcher to the Brewers and a different GM in their attempt to compete for the playoffs in the past, there are players the Royals have had interest in in the past. On the heels of a bounce-back ’17 campaign, Monte Harrison exploded in the Arizona Fall League this past fall, hitting five home runs despite playing just 13 games there. A local kid from Lee’s Summit West High School, Harrison as a former football player with quick twitch skills, speed to cover center and power he fits a phylum that the Royals scouts have long coveted.
Besides Harrison, the Royals have shown interest previously in a pair of pitchers in the Brewers system. Right-handed starter Phil Bickford was once on the draft radar of the Royals, and despite a marijuana suspension and an injury he still shows three average or better pitches with a chance to start or move quickly into a major league bullpen.
In addition to Bickford, the Brewers have left-handed pitcher Kodi Medeiros in their system, a pitcher that it was said the Royals were extremely interested in prior to Milwaukee selecting him in the 2014 draft. The sidearm-throwing Medeiros is a fringe starter despite a pair of plus pitches in his fastball and slider to go along with an average changeup. Much like Bickford, the lefty possesses upside as a starter or could move quickly as a matchup lefty in the bullpen.
From top to bottom the Brewers offer a lot of different players that the Royals could tag in a trade, but I would be surprised if any deal doesn’t show them interested in Monte Harrison, who MLB Pipeline pegged as a likely Top 100 prospect. These other two names could be flipped around with any number of other Brewers prospects but it should be known that they’ve intrigued the Royals scouting staff in the past and despite some hiccups in their game, they still exhibit enough upside to intrigue as secondary pieces of a Duffy trade.
Baseball America released their Top 10 last week and I was intrigued to see Josh Staumont still in the Top 5 of the system. I shouldn’t say that surprises me as much as seeing them listing him in the Royals 2021 future rotation. I write this because that same publication listed Yadier Alvarez, the Dodgers 21-year-old hard throwing righthander as a likely future bullpen pitcher. Having seen the two pitchers face off at Double-A last summer, I couldn’t have seen two more similar pitchers in the pair of fireballers who could reach 100 mph with their fastball while also missing the strikezone with ridiculous regularity.
On that day both pitchers worked just four innings on 81 pitches, with Alvarez throwing a touch harder while walking one more hitter. Perhaps Baseball America feels the Dodgers and their depth in the rotation will allow Alvarez to go to the bullpen, but I still found it intriguing one writer would view it one way while the other at the same publication would view it another. Both to me are destined to the pen. That’s the reason I pushed Staumont lower in my rankings, and if I would be more patient with one over the other it would likely be Alvarez who is two years younger currently.
The ZiPS projections came out the other day at Fangraphs, and it likely isn’t surprising to see how abysmal the Royals opening day roster could look via the projections. After all, the projection systems have never liked this team and I doubt this front office will ever put together a squad that they would like. Still, I found one interesting note that I thought would be intriguing to watch. Listed with the second most projected innings as a starter was Jake Junis with 154.3 innings. Combine that number with his listed 7.64 K/9 and 2.16 BB/9 rates and one would think Junis would be ready for a breakout projection. Then Szymborski drops the hammer with a 1.75 HR/9 projection to temper the righty’s expectations. Personally, I view the other numbers are far more likely than that home run number and the pitcher we saw in the second half is closer to the guy we will see this season. It should be fun to monitor whether the Royals have a starter who is close to a mid-rotation level talent or as ZiPS views him as a fringe guy.
If you would like to see reports on Staumont and others please purchase the 2018 Royals Prospect Guide that myself and a pair of other writers put together. You can pick it up at my Payhip link or for your Kindle through Amazon. Thanks again for reading and follow me @ClintScoles.