Yesterday was a good day for the Royals because they didn’t lose. Those days are few and far between in 2018, which is somewhat expected, but also surprising at how prolific it has been. When I predicted 73 wins, I think I was probably somewhere around the median for this team. Now, in order to reach that, they’d have to finish 51-37. That’s a 94-win pace for a team that figures to actually lose talent over the next few weeks rather than gain it. I think I’m going to have to take an L on this one. I would say stranger things have happened, but I’m not sure a whole lot stranger has happened in baseball than a team like this playing at a 94-win pace for more than half the season. Anyway, we power through.
- There’s been quite a bit of discussion about what the Royals should do with Salvador Perez. The general consensus is that they should trade him because they can get a return back for him that will expedite this rebuild and he likely won’t be a part of the next great Royals team anyway. The idea is that he’d bring back just about the biggest return of any player on the team. I don’t know if that’s true. While Salvy has certainly earned his place in Royals lore and maybe has even earned the right to have his number on the team Hall of Fame in a few years, I’m not sure how much value he has. Consider this. He’s now had two injuries, caught about a million innings and is now hitting .223/.269/.417 in what is the worst offensive showing of his career to this point. He still has the cannon for an arm, throwing out 57 percent of attempted base stealers, so it’s not like he lacks value, but he continues to rank poorly in framing metrics, which is an issue and I believe he doesn’t call an especially great game, though that’s personal opinion. On the topic of his framing, he ranks as the second worst in baseball in framing runs at -6.7. But maybe most importantly in the discussion, he’s no longer cheap. Under his previous deal that ran through next season, he would be set to earn about $10 million more. Instead, he’s now owed about $40 million through the end of the 2021 season, when he’ll be 31 years old with even more mileage on him. I look at the Jonathan Lucroy deal from 2016 and he netted the Brewers a top-75 prospect and a top-20 prospect. I think the return is probably a fair amount lower than that for Perez given his age, production dip and contract. Is the PR hit worth it for a top-100 prospect and maybe two guys are in the 10-15 range in an organization? Maybe. But I don’t think it’s that simple.
- On the Kelvin Herrera deal, I remain underwhelmed at the return, but I’m also not immediately dismissing it as a bad deal for the Royals. The rental market is typically not exactly on fire and the return the Royals got for Herrera was likely better than what the Tigers received for J.D. Martinez, who was the best hitter on the market last year. I also think there was significant injury fear, no matter what anyone tells you, and I think it came from both sides making the trade. Herrera’s last outing with the Royals featured a home run allowed, two walks and a dreaded visit from the trainer. Then he randomly warmed up on Sunday, but I’m not sure he was ever going to get in. Maybe it was a bit of a ploy to show health. Even so, I’m disappointed because I expected more than prospects with more uncertainty than even other prospects. I did talk to some people in the know who believe that Kelvin Gutierrez has a chance to be an impact performer because they believe there’s more power in his bat than he’s shown so far. If he can even become a .280/.350/.450 hitter with the defense he seems to provide, that’s well worth the deal. Blake Perkins doesn’t make much sense to me because I don’t think he’ll ever hit and I think the Royals have enough players with similar defense and speed. But hey, I’ve been wrong before. And that doesn’t even get into Yohanse Morel, who is the piece that could make this deal a huge win for the Royals if it’s going to be one. He’s just 17 and has a long way to go, but what little I know about him is exactly the type of lottery ticket arm I’d love to see included in every deal.
- Maybe I’m sentimental or sappy, but I actually have no problem with the Royals stated desire to start playing Alcides Escobar at some other positions around the field. I don’t think it has anything to do with them having to keep his bat in the lineup or his streak (though until he sits, that’ll be at least part of it, I guess). I believe this is an organization trying to do a favor for a guy who was part of a championship core. Escobar is clearly no longer a starting shortstop in the big leagues. His offense has always been horrible, but his defense somewhat made up for it for awhile. It really doesn’t anymore. By playing him at second, third and center field, the Royals are likely hoping it’ll show other teams that he could be a utility option for them next season and might help him to actually get a job next year. I don’t think it’s going to change anything, honestly, but I respect the Royals desire to at least try to help the guy out.
- I suppose I could talk about who should close for the Royals now, but until they have a lead to protect, it doesn’t really matter. My answer is Jason Adam, though. What I will talk about is Brad Keller as a starter. We’re starting to get some data to be able to make some observations now that he’s gotten into a third time through the order. The good is that in each of his two longer starts, he’s shown a fair amount of velocity, averaging a bit more than 95 MPH in both outings and touching as high as 97 or so. He held his own against a fantastic Houston offense last time out too, so that’s a high point regardless of pretty much anything else. I’m concerned with the control as he now has seven walks over his last two starts, spanning just 11.1 innings. He also has struck out just five in those two starts, which I think is something that will plague him if he sticks in the rotation. He, without a doubt, needs to get more starts, and I reserve the right to change my opinion when we have more information about him, but I’m still thinking he’s better served as a reliever. Now we need to see Scott Barlow and Trevor Oaks get some starts down the stretch to see what they have. I think I’m one of the few who still likes Oaks, but Barlow’s strong pitching his last time in the big leagues has probably earned him some potential fans, so they’re very important to see as well.