You may not be aware of this, but the Royals aren’t very good. In order to avoid 100 losses, they need to finish the season 37-34. That’s the pace of an 84-win season over 162 games. This team has only won three in a row once this year, so it seems unlikely they’ll play three games over .500 for the remainder of the year. Anyway, I digress. At this point, the focus on the season is on the minor leagues and on trades. Some names have monopolized the thought on trades, like Whit Merrifield and Mike Moustakas and that makes sense because they’re the Royals biggest trade chips, so I thought we could look at some of the guys not being discussed and see if there’s a fit for them anywhere.
Drew’s reputation as a solid defensive catcher might entice some team that loses a backup to injury or that doesn’t like their current backup to see him as a nice emergency piece for the postseason. I don’t think he’s especially good defensively personally, but hey, you never know. The Red Sox just lost Christian Vazquez for a few weeks and maybe don’t trust Blake Swihart as a DH, so maybe they’ll have some interest? Maybe the Astros would have some interest with Brian McCann out until September. I guess the Mariners could also like a guy with postseason experience? There’s also the Brewers, who have a pair of former Royals in their catching ranks as well as the Rockies, I suppose. He’s a backup catcher. The market is thin to start, but if a team values veterans, I guess they might be interested in Butera.
Duda has been fine for the Royals this year, but fine isn’t really good enough when you’re a lumbering first baseman. I’ve actually been surprised at his defense, but that doesn’t mean a ton really, as you all know. He’s hit for so-so power, but not really enough to make a difference. Still, if a team is in need of a lefty bat off the bench or if their first baseman gets hurt, they could do worse than Duda. The Yankees, for example, are interested in Moose as a first baseman, but maybe the better play for them is to give up even less for Duda. If not them (and they only vaguely barely make sense), I don’t see any big fits anywhere, but teams like to stock up on bench bats in August, so we’ll see.
The conventional wisdom here is that the Royals would be silly to trade Duffy right now because his value is pretty darn low. And I get that. But consider this. His ERAs over his last four full seasons are as follows: 2.53, 4.08, 3.51 and 3.81. His ERA this season is 4.89. He’s been pretty bad. But over his last nine starts, he’s averaged a little more than six innings per start and posted a 3.07 ERA with a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio and only five home runs allowed. He’s getting swings and misses again and while his control hasn’t been great, he looks an awful lot like the mid-rotation starter he’s always been. Maybe I’m reaching here, but it’s looking like the first 10 starts were the aberration, just like the 15 starts in the middle of 2016 when he posted a 2.38 ERA with tons of strikeouts and very few walks were an aberration the other way.
Duffy is owed $46 million from 2019 to 2021. He’s owed a bit less than $7 million the rest of this season, so that’s a chunk of change for a guy who has spent half the year looking more like a demotion candidate than a trade candidate. But even so, the Yankees are running out a lot of rough pitchers after Severino and Sabathia right now, though Tanaka is coming back. They could still use a mid-rotation guy. The Phillies might have some interest in pushing Nick Pivetta or Vince Velasquez back in the rotation if they want to make a playoff run. The Brewers starters have been surprisingly good this year, but they’ve lost Brent Suter and could probably use a guy who will be around for the next few seasons.
The issue with trading Duffy is the return. If teams are paying for his last nine starts, they’re probably paying about what the Royals want, but I doubt teams are going to be paying that much for him given the totality of the season for him. I don’t doubt that the Royals are listening on him because they’re listening on basically everyone, but I don’t think they’ll get the return they want even if it’s a solid return by industry standards for a guy who has been so up and down this season.
What’s the market for a .195/.243/.275 hitter, who plays a below average shortstop and has some newfound versatility that isn’t actually a positive because he’s not good anywhere else? It’s exactly what you’d expect. If a team trades for Escobar, it’s because the GM is coming off a 72-hour bender and hallucinating.
Flynn is sort of an unsung piece in a bullpen, one who won’t get much attention or elicit much of a return, but he did a fantastic job after Kennedy went out early last night and would make sense as a non-impact acquisition for a lot of teams as a cheap guy they’d control. I don’t even think the Royals would get a flyer for him, so there’s nothing to be excited about, but if you like trades, they could probably at least move him relatively easily.
When the Royals shifted Hammel to the bullpen, I think it served two purposes. One, it got him out of the rotation, which was a huge need. Two, it put him in a role where maybe he could succeed and if the Royals were willing to pay some of his salary (don’t laugh, they did it with Brandon Moss at least), three solid weeks in the bullpen might be able to get them a flyer in rookie ball. In his first inning last night, that thought made a lot of sense. Then he Hammeled. Oh well.
The Royals would love to move Kennedy. I’d love to find $50,000 every day for the rest of my life and not have to pay taxes on it. Kennedy has been better lately, but better doesn’t mean good and he’s also hurt. It’s not happening even if the Royals tried to attach him to a more valuable piece like Merrifield, which I really, really hope they don’t try to do, but I can’t say I’m confident they wouldn’t.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. <deep breath> Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. <deep breath again> Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. <final deep breath> Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
The Royals “closer” has shown flashes of being really good out of the bullpen, but he’s also walked six batters in 7.2 innings, so you know, we’ll see. But as cheap as he is, the Royals might be able to get that big-time longshot prospect. Every team could use a reliever, some could use one more. Given his salary and the likely extremely low cost of acquisition, that goes double for Peralta. If the Red Sox want to boost their bullpen, he’d make a lot of sense because he’s so cheap and they’re close to some big time taxing.
Looking at the list above, it’s easy to see why the Royals aren’t very good. They don’t really have much in the way of what you’d call “good” players, which isn’t ideal. But hey, maybe they can flip a couple of these guys for a flyer or two that hit big. It’s happened before.