The trading deadline of 2017 was a very trying time for Royals fans. Half of us wanted to sell, half of us wanted to go for a World Series title. The Royals were 55-48 on the morning of July 31 going into the trading deadline. They were 2.5 games ahead of Tampa Bay holding the final playoff spot and just 2.0 games behind Cleveland in their own division. I was in favor of buying, and I still think that was the right call with a playoff spot in their grasp.
This year, I felt like the Cubs were a great example of a team that was in the same situation as the Royals were in the 2017 season. The only difference, of course, is the Cubs were not in contention and everyone agreed it was time for them to sell.
The Royals had several free agents coming due as well as some other trade chips. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain are the three that immediately come to mind. But the Royals also had a rejuvenated Jason Vargas who was dealing. Add Kelvin Herrera, Alcides Escobar, Chris Young, Joakim Soria, Ian Kennedy, and Mike Minor and the Royals had quite a few tradable players who could make an impact on another team. Anyway, I used the Cubs as a comparison because they just traded Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javi Baez, Trevor Williams, Craig Kimbrel, Ryan Tepera, Joc Pederson, and Andrew Chaffin. Let’s look at what the return was and dream about what we could have gotten, and then close the book on this.
I imagined Hosmer and Rizzo matched up. LoCain and Baez matched up. And Bryant and Moustakas matched up. Maybe you disagree but it seems fair to match the Royals and Cubs guys in that manner. Here are the returns for the Cubs trades.
1. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF (Mets #6 prospect according to Baseball America’s Mid-Season update)
2. Greg Deichmann, OF (Oakland #7)
3. Alexander Canario, OF (San Francisco #7)
4. Alexander Vizcaino, RHP (Yankees #12)
5. Kevin Alcantara, OF (Yankees #14)
6. Caleb Kilian, RHP (San Francisco #17)
7. Daniel Palencia, RHP (Oakland #19)
8. Bailey Horn, LHP (White Sox #25)
9. Anderson Espinoza, RHP (Padres #19 Pre-season, NR mid-season)
10. Bryce Ball, 1B (Braves #18 Pre-season)
It’s not hard to imagine the Royals would have received packages similar to these. One big thing to note, not a single BA Top 100 player was dealt to the Cubs in any of these deals. I also decided not to go back and look at top prospects at the time that could have been. The Cubs targeted athletic outfielders and pitchers who threw in the upper-90s while the Royals may have targeted other positions, we don’t really know because it didn’t happen.
Again, no top 100 player on the Baseball America list was traded in these trades. Pete Crow-Armstrong is the prize here as he looks like a speedy, defensively gifted starting CF in the big leagues who is going to get on base at a decent clip. Deichmann has fought some injuries but has a high ceiling and Canario is young and thought of very highly within the baseball world. Vizcaino can probably pitch in the Yankees pen right now with a 70-grade slider and fastball that touches 99. Kilian looks like he could be a starter at some point down the road. Alcantara is one of those 2018 international signings that everyone coveted.
Anyway, it’s not over yet by any means. We will have to watch the Cubs for the next few years and see if those trades jump started their rebuild. Only then will we be able to get a better understanding of what could have been if the Royals would have sold.