Last year around this time, we took a look at the 10 biggest trade chips that the Royals had to acquire big league talent. The Royals made it clear that the goal was to compete for a playoff spot in 2017, and it was important to evaluate who the Royals had of value to bring back big league pieces to help the team reach the playoffs.
Well, things have changed a lot since 2017. This year, the Royals biggest trade chips are on the big league roster, and there aren’t 10 of them. This year, the Royals will be looking to flip major league talent in an effort to restock a depleted farm system, much like they did when they flipped Jon Jay to the Arizona Diamondbacks. While the Royals young core of prospects may return more in a trade than three months of Mike Moustakas, that’s not a realistic option for the Royals this season.
So for this season, we’re going to break down the Royals biggest trade chips, that also have a realistic chance of being moved. That means no Salvador Perez, no Khalil Lee, no Adalberto Mondesi, etc. Without further ado, here are your candidates:
1.) Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF
Whit Merrifield is under team control for four more seasons after 2018 and isn’t arbitration eligible until 2020. FanGraphs currently ranks Merrifield as the third best 2nd baseman in baseball in terms of WAR, and Merrifield has actually been outstanding in CF as well. He’s one of only five qualified 2nd baseman in all of baseball with both a positive offensive and defensive rating according to FanGraphs. He’s been outstanding for the Royals and would bring back quite the return should the Royals move him (and they should).
2.) Danny Duffy, LHS
Danny Duffy may have very well nuked some of his trade value with his early season struggles, but he has a 2.10 ERA in his last four starts and seems to be trending up. He’s figured some stuff out with his changeup that has it back to being a + offering, and he’s been more aggressive with hitters as well. He’s under contract through 2021 for a little over $15M/season, so the Royals may have to eat some money here, but that’s a reasonable-ish contract for a guy who averaged over 3 bWAR/season between 2014 and 2017.
3.) Jorge Soler, OF
Hello darkness my old friend.
While I think it’s sort of unlikely that Jorge Soler gets traded, I wouldn’t completely rule it out either. Soler is under contract through 2020 for just $4M/year, and is currently posting an OPS of .831 with 9 HR and 18 doubles in 60 games. Those are pretty good numbers for $4M/year. You can bet that there will be teams calling to ask about the price for Jorge Soler, which needs to be steep, seeing as the Royals gave up Wade Davis for him. The problem with Soler is that his contract runs out after the 2020 season and the Royals probably won’t be close to competing by then. If you don’t trade Soler, you have no shot at competing by 2020. If you trade Jorge Soler, you may be able to get some pieces back that make that 2020 team look an awful lot better than it projects right now.
4.) Kelvin Herrera, RHR
Kelvin Herrera has been outstanding as the Royals closer in 2018. He’s back to pumping upper-90’s fastballs in the strike zone with authority and his off-speed stuff looks filthy as ever. He’s surrendered merely three runs and two walks in 25.2 IP so far, and every contending team will surely be checking in on Herrera in the coming weeks. The Royals may be best off by combining him in a trade with…
5.) Mike Moustakas, 3B
Finding a team that would take on both Mike Moustakas and Kelvin Herrera might be the best way for KC to optimize the return. If KC were to eat the rest of their contracts as well, that could also help to optimize returns. The Atlanta Braves make a little sense here. They could choose to just call up 3B prospect Austin Riley though, who has crushed the ball in AA and AAA this season. The Astros also make a little bit of sense. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman anchor down three infield spots, but the fourth spot on the infield combined with the DH hasn’t been a guarantee. With the way the Yankees and Red Sox are playing, combined with the fact that Houston is still battling Seattle in their division, it might behoove the Astros to look into a move like this.
Photo Credits: Newton Daily News