I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think someone is going to trade for Homer Bailey. It seems crazy to say since he was a train wreck of injury and ineffectiveness for four years, but he’s found some glimmer of his old self in Kansas City. And it looks like that might pay off for the Royals in the form of a lottery ticket prospect or two.
Certainly, Moore will be eager to move Bailey who has no emotional attachment to the fanbase like Gordon and Duffy and no complications like Merrifield who will demand a large haul in prospects because he has so many years of control.
If you only sparingly watch the big league team, you may not realize that Bailey has put together a respectable season so far. He’s not Cy Young material or anything, but a 4.82 ERA and a 4.09 FIP in the American League will play for a team looking for backend rotation help. The peripherals are solid, as well (8.08 K/9, 3.74 BB/9). His BABIP is .302 so teams shouldn’t expect a big regression. In fact, he may be able to bring his walk rate down a bit since 3.74 is high for him.
Bailey’s velocity looks good. He’s averaging 92.8 mph on his fastball, and his splitter has looked good this season, too. Wisely, he’s throwing it more, giving scouts a chance to see that he has the stuff to get hitters out. From the Royals perspective, Bailey’s getting hot at just the right time, too. He’s thrown 13.2 scoreless innings in his last two starts and has three quality starts in a row. Bailey’s still only 33 and on a one-year deal for league minimum ($550,000) so he’s a cheap rental opportunity. Teams that don’t have a lot of room to add payroll can take on his salary without any concerns.
So, who might be interested? (Yes, let’s do some wild speculating about where this aging, backend rotation rental might go and what he might fetch in return! My favorite part of losing seasons is wild trade speculation.)
First, the Rockies. They have the worst starter ERA in all of baseball, and yet, they’re currently leading the NL wildcard race. The Rocks demoted their opening day starter, Kyle Freeland, after an abysmal start to the season, and they’re routinely running out Jeff Hoffman (6.75 ERA) to start games for them. It’s tough to pitch in Coors Field so the Rockies will probably never lead the majors in ERA, but they could use a little more consistency in the rotation. That said, they probably don’t want to sell the farm to get someone in a year where they’re 10 games back of the division leader. Enter, Homer Bailey who has pitched well in three starts at Coors Field with a 1.40 ERA and only one home run in 19.1 IP (I know, small sample size).
He won’t fetch more than a lottery ticket so here are a couple of the Rockies’ lottery tickets the Royals might be interested in.
1. Eddy Diaz, SS – This is probably a dream, as this kid has a lot of athleticism, great speed, and has shown a great hit tool in the early stages of his career. His age (19) and level (Short-Season/Pioneer League) make him a lottery ticket; if he were 22 doing what he’s doing in AA, the Rockies would never give him up.
2. Niko Decolati, OF – A 2018 sixth round pick with a good set of tools. The Rockies moved him from the infield to the outfield where reports say his athleticism is playing well. He’s hitting in the South Atlantic League so far this year, though for some reason, he’s only played in 16 games.
3. Tommy Doyle, RHP – This is a more realistic get. Doyle’s a 23-year-old relief prospect who pitched very well in 2018 and is pitching well so far in 2019. In 16 relief appearances (15.1 IP) in advanced A, he’s got a 3.52 ERA, 16 strikeouts, and 6 walks. Opponents are hitting only .176 against him. 2080 Baseball has his fastball at 94-98 with a plus slider.
Why not just keep adding Royals? It’s worked so far. The Brewers rotation has struggled this year, mostly because Jhoulys Chacin and Freddy Peralta have been terrible (though Peralta’s now in the bullpen and his peripherals look ok). But even if the Brew Crew decide to stick with Chacin through his struggles, they could still use a fifth starter, someone they don’t have to care about in terms of development. Bailey is very familiar with the NL Central and could give them a little more consistency at the backend of their rotation.
1. Je’Von Ward, OF – Drafted in the 12th round in 2017 as a young, high school player, Ward is the prototypical Royals prospect. Athletic. Toolsey. Raw. At 6’5”, 190 pounds, he’s still got some filling out to do, but he’s only 19 and already playing in the Midwestern League. He’s only hitting .232/.332/.335, and he’s definitely a lottery ticket. But that’s what you get for Bailey.
2. Trey Supak, RHP – This is a bit of a reach, as Supak has gained status as a prospect recently. Baseball America bumped him from 25 to 11 on the Brewers organizational ranking, citing an increase in velocity and his effectiveness at Double-A Biloxi. If nothing else, he’s a low-to-mid 90s fastball guy with a four pitch mix. He seems like a high floor, back end guy who may be a bit more if his velocity stays up.
3. Adam Hill, RHP – Hill has been decent since being drafted in the fourth round last year out of South Carolina (by the Mets who traded him to the Brewers). He’s tough to get a read on because sometimes he’s lights out and sometimes he walks the park. But he’s got stuff. If it doesn’t work out for Hill as a starter, his stuff might play up even more in short stints as a reliever.
I’m going to stop there because I’ve already devoted way too much time and way too many words to what will ultimately be a fairly unremarkable trade. But if Dayton Moore can move Bailey, it will be another example of one of the areas of his job he excels at—finding reclamation projects and moving them for interesting pieces at the deadline.
Featured image of Trey Supak via Milb.com