The Royals recently made a move to acquire three pitchers from the San Diego Padres. They made that trade without trading any of their top 30 prospects, any major piece on the big-league team, Raul Mondesi, or Jorge Soler.
Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports reported that the Royals may still be looking for starting pitching, even after acquiring starter Trevor Cahill who will start for the Royals Saturday in Boston.
This brings up a question that plenty of Royals fans have asked regarding the Royals as buyers, “What do the Royals have to buy with?” Let’s break down the Royals top remaining trade chips.
1. Raul Mondesi Jr. – SS – AAA
Make no mistake, if Raul Mondesi had spent the entire season at AAA Omaha like he should have, he would easily be the Royals top prospect and probably would have been in the top 25 prospects in baseball. The switch-hitting SS has put up impressive numbers so far at AAA, despite missing the last couple of weeks with a lingering back issue, slashing .316/.346/.544/.891 with 10 HR and 18 SB in 62 games. We all know what kind of difference Mondesi can make in the field and on the base paths, but one thing Royals fans have yet to see at the big-league level is the damage he can do with the bat. Mondesi struggled mightily early on in the year when he was given the Opening Day 2B job, but had he started the year off in AAA where he belongs, fans and scouts would be giddy about the promising 21-year old. Any potential move for a controlled, impact SP would probably have to involve Mondesi at this point. Sonny Gray is the name that comes to mind in that scenario, although unless the Royals trade for a Sonny Gray-like player, I don’t see them moving Raul Mondesi.
2. Kelvin Herrera – Closer – MLB
Sir, please put down that pitch fork. Ma’am will you please put out that torch. Hear me out.
Dayton Moore has one of the hardest jobs in baseball right now. He must constantly be working to help this 2017 team win the World Series, AND make sure they don’t lose 90 games in 2018. With the lack of talent that is currently close to being major league ready in the Royals system, the Royals could look to trade from an area of strength to find a guy they like that can help them in 2018 and beyond.
That area of strength may be the bullpen. The Royals bullpen has been lights out in the month of July, and Kelvin Herrera seems to have found his way again. That being said, the Royals have proven that they are willing to move on from their closers before and I can see them making a trade similar to the Wade Davis trade this week. The Washington Nationals could still use some help in the bullpen, and with the recent trade that Dayton Moore made with San Diego, the Royals have a very talented, very deep bullpen. If Dayton Moore finds a deal that he likes, don’t be surprised if Kelvin Herrera and his year of control in 2018 find a new home before the July 31 trade deadline.
DISCLAIMER: I love Kelvin Herrera and would not trade him. Having a proven closer is valuable to a team making a run and I think he’s great there. With that being said, I told you I was going to evaluate all of their POTENTIAL trade chips and I don’t think it’s ridiculous to think that Dayton Moore would move him for the right deal.
3. Jorge Soler – OF – AAA
Again, please read my explanation for this before accusing me of giving up on Jorge Soler.
I have always been fascinated with Jorge Soler as a prospect. He has some incredible tools that I think every team would love to have. I did not like the trade the Royals made to acquire him, but I do like Jorge Soler as a player and think he has a bright future.
Which is also exactly why I think he would be a valuable trade chip. The tricky part with Soler is that, while I see him as being valuable, MLB teams may not. His rough go in the big leagues in 2017 may have decreased the value that some MLB teams see and him, and it’s important for Dayton Moore to not sell low on Soler now. Every player develops at a different pace, and Soler’s success at AAA this year is promising for what his future may hold.
It only takes one team to value Soler at the right price for the Royals to make a move, and while I really don’t see the Royals moving him, it is a realistic option that could bring back a really nice haul if the right team comes calling.
4. Khalil Lee – OF – Low-A
The Royals top position prospect who has played at least one full season of professional baseball. His BB% and speed/power combo speak for themselves.
5. Seuly Matias – OF – Rookie
Arguably the next top position prospect in the Royals system not named Nick Pratto. Matias has scouts and fans drooling at the mouth as he as been on fire lately, hitting .324 with 5 HR in July.
6. Foster Griffin – SP – AA
The Royals lone participant in this year’s All-Star Futures Game, Foster Griffin may well be the Royals top pitching prospect. The 6′ 3″ LHP is carrying an ERA of 2.94 this year between High-A and AA, and appears to have finally figured out the game of professional baseball.
7. Josh Staumont – SP – AA
Josh Staumont has struggled mightily with his command this year, but he still throws really, really hard. The 6′ 3″ RHP had some success early in the year, but his ERA ballooned quickly when his command went missing. Again, any 6′ 3″ righty who can reach 100 mph on the radar gun is going to draw some attention.
8. Miguel Almonte – RHP – AAA
Miguel Almonte has been one of the more interesting guys in the Royals system over the last couple of years. He’s gone from top prospect, to lost soul, to top prospect again. His changeup is arguably the most devastating pitch in the Royals organization, and his high-octane fastball makes him incredibly valuable both in the bullpen and as a starter. The further development of his breaking pitch will determine his future as a starter or reliever, but he could be a really nice piece in a potential Sonny Gray/Raul Mondesi trade, or the center piece for a Lance Lynn trade.
9. Chase Vallot – C – High-A
Chase Vallot is a really interesting name here and probably depends on the buyer. His ridiculous BB% and HR numbers in A ball have been really impressive, while his BA and strike out rate have been really unimpressive. Much of his value comes from the fact that he puts up these numbers as a catcher, but some teams may not see him as a catcher long term. The kid is incredibly talented, but Dayton Moore won’t sell low on him, meaning a team will have to value him as much as the Royals do in order for a trade to work.
10. Hunter Dozier – 3B/OF – AAA
Hunter Dozier would be much higher on this list if he could stay healthy. I really hope the Royals don’t trade him this year because I’m afraid that would mean selling low due to his injury bitten season, but he’s still a special talent that may draw a nice return.
My personal prediction is that the Royals will make one more trade before the July 31 deadline, whether for a bat or a SP, then one Josh Willingham-like trade in August. If the Royals can add one more piece, they will be in great shape for another run at October, and the 10 names I listed above could very well be on the move if the Royals do decide to make another move.