I wanted to title this article “Seven players that cannot be on the roster on August 1st” but decided against it because I’ve been pretty outspoken against trading guys if other teams won’t match their market trade value. Then I thought about titling it “Seven players the Royals should be actively shopping” but realized that no one who isn’t actively on LSD is going to trade for a couple of these guys. So here we are. Seven players that ought to be actively searching for a real estate agent because they shouldn’t be on this roster August 1st.
Carlos Santana and Ryan O’Hearn
Not going to waste any time here. If either of them are on this roster August 1st I’m going to blow a gasket. O’Hearn hasn’t started consecutive games in almost a month so there may be a light at the end of this tunnel.
Not a ton that needs to be said here either, I don’t think. Benintendi has been EXACTLY what the Royals thought they were trading for this year. He’s been by far their most consistent hitter and is currently 3rd in all of baseball in fWAR by a left fielder with 1.5 and he’s 2nd in wRC+ at 145. He’s a free agent at the end of the season and if you want him to be a part of your team moving forward you can just pay him in November like everybody else. The only reason he should be on this team in August is if teams aren’t willing to pay a prospect premium for him and you think the comp. pick you’d receive for him in next year’s draft outweighs the potential trade return (that seems unlikely but if he gets injured or something it’s not impossible).
Let’s assume he’s traded. Here are a couple guys that got traded last year that don’t offer perfect comparisons but should help us understand what kind of return the Royals could *hope* to get back for a few months of Benintendi:
- Kris Bryant traded for Alexander Canario and Caleb Kilian
- Canario was a 21-year old struggling in Low-A when he was traded last summer and FanGraphs slapped a 45 FV on him last offseason, as did MLB Pipeline. Caleb Kilian was a 24-year old tearing up AA last summer and will probably make his big league debut soon. FG had a 45 FV on him as well, while MLB Pipeline put a 50 FV on Kilian.
- Javier Baez and Trevor Williams traded for Pete Crow-Armstrong
- Javy Baez plays a more important position than Benintendi, but he wasn’t hitting as well as Benintendi is now and Pete Crow-Armstrong was a hell of a get. Trevor Williams was pitching okay at the time, so you’d have to include an arm to get something like PCA in return, but this should be the goal. Buy low on a guy with top-100 ability and see if Drew Saylor and the gang can work their magic when he gets here. Drew Waters, anybody?
- Kyle Schwarber traded for Aldo Ramirez
- I doubt Royals fans would be thrilled with this kind of move, but Ramirez is a super advanced 21-year old with a ton of upside. I like it, but I could see GMDM preferring the draft pick to this kind of return. Coin flip in my opinion.
- Cesar Hernandez traded for Konnor Pilkington
- Royals fans got a good look at Pilkington the other day and this should be the absolute floor for Benintendi. Pilkington was a 23-year old tearing up AA last year and looks like a legitimate big league starter. This should probably be the type of return the Royals target.
- Starling Marte traded for Jesus Luzardo
- I think this would be considered best case scenario, and Benintendi isn’t exactly in the range of Marte, but it’s worth mentioning I think.
Alright. That’s a lot on Benintendi and I’ve got four guys to go so I’m gonna quickly throw out a few potential partners and who I’d target back:
- Atlanta Braves:
- Atlanta currently has a -1.4 fWAR total from their left fielders this year. They’ve had some problems with injuries, but they may owe the Royals one after Jorge Soler won them a World Series last year? I mentioned Drew Waters already, and while I think that’s a little rich, he’s really struggled in the upper levels of the minors and maybe a bullpen arm included in the deal seals it. What about Jared Shuster? The 23-year old LHP is currently tearing up AA and has a big fastball with a great changeup. If Benintendi can get you Shuster, that’s the Konnor Pilkington style return we were talking about earlier.
- St. Louis Cardinals:
- The Cardinals currently have a -0.7 fWAR from their left fielders and are 8 games above .500 where the Braves are 3 games below .500. Both teams are in 2nd place in their current divisions, so they’re both in striking distance and could both use some help in LF. In terms of a return from St. Louis, I think I’d ask for Michael McGreevy and go from there. McGreevy is a 21-year old RHP who was tearing up High-A and was recently promoted to AA. He doesn’t miss a ton of bats, but he’s a young, super advanced starting pitching prospect and you know the Royals don’t care much about strikeouts. If not McGreevy, maybe Alec Burleson? Maybe the Cardinals are high on him but the industry wasn’t really before the season so…maybe? He’s raking in AAA right now (23-year old outfielder) and…you’d think the Cardinals would promote him before trading for a rental? I don’t know. Can’t hurt to ask.
- Toronto Blue Jays:
- The Blue Jays are currently 9 games over .500, in 2nd place in the AL East, and have a cumulative -0.3 fWAR from their left fielders this year. Otto Lopez is such a Royals guy it hurts. Low strikeout and walk rates, low power, good runner, super utility defender. How about this though…what are the chances that Toronto would flip Jordan Groshans for Benintendi and a guy like Scott Barlow or Josh Staumont? Every contender needs relief help and the Blue Jays are in great shape for the first Wild Card in the AL. Groshans could immediately pencil in as the Royals third baseman of the future while Bobby Witt Jr. manned SS permanently. Groshans is still just 22 years old and is tearing up AAA with more walks than strikeouts. He was injured last year and the power hasn’t really come back…at all…but I think he could be attainable considering the Blue Jays have Matt Chapman manning third base for them for the next couple of seasons.
Whit Merrifield and Michael A. Taylor
I’m filing these two together because they both have at least one more year left on their contracts, I doubt Dayton Moore and company want to trade either of them, and I have absolutely no frame of reference for what they may command in a trade. I do know this, however:
The Royals started a six-year clock when they put Bobby Witt Jr. on the Opening Day roster and they certainly will not be making the playoffs in 2022. One season down. I can guarantee you this too: they will not make the playoffs in 2023 if Whit and MAT are still on the roster. Two seasons down.
What are you going to do to ensure three or four playoff appearances in the six seasons you’re guaranteed to have Witt Jr. on your roster? Are you willing to make the tough moves? Are you willing to do EVERYTHING in your power to allow Bobby Witt Jr. to help you win a World Series before his rookie contract is up? If Whit Merrifield and Michael A. Taylor are still on this roster on August 1st, the answer you’re giving yours fans is an emphatic NO. No you are not. Because those two sure as hell aren’t going to be big contributors on the next great Royals team.
Josh Staumont and Scott Barlow
I get that there will be fans who hate this. I promise. Here’s the thing, relievers can’t hold leads your team doesn’t have and right now the Royals don’t have enough leads for a good bullpen to hold. Trading Staumont and Barlow now, while they are at the ultimate peak of their value, helps ensure that Bobby Witt Jr. plays in as many playoff games in a Royals uniform as humanly possible. Good relievers can win you a World Series, but good relievers cannot get you to the World Series. Let’s look at these two in particular:
- Josh Staumont:
- 28 years old
- Walks have historically been an issue
- Never been elite
- Strikeouts are way up this year
- Under control for three more seasons
- Will lose every ounce of value if his velocity drops
- Scott Barlow:
- 29 years old
- Been extremely lucky this year in terms of batted ball data
- Has been very good for the Royals
- Strikeouts are way down this year
- Under control for two more seasons
- Velocity and usage on his fastball are way down this year…
Scott Barlow has to be traded this year, in my opinion. His fastball velocity dropping so hard so fast terrifies me. He’s throwing his fastball less than any pitcher in recent baseball history not-named Sergio Romo and Romo was a side-arm frisbee slinger. This isn’t normal. It’s working! His ERA is down to 1.64! But he’s also running up a career high 4.10 FIP and I don’t actually know how long he can last like this. Find a team that needs him for this year and flip him before his value crashes. Maybe it never does, but it’s not worth risking for a reliever. You signed him as a minor league free agent. The surplus value he’s provided you is absolutely remarkable. Move on now and extend the value he can provide your organization for the next six seasons or so.
As far as Staumont goes, I could live with holding onto him for another year or so, but you’re playing with fire anytime you don’t trade your relievers. Staumont can’t really get MORE valuable and he loses value with every month of control you don’t trade to another team. Then there’s the velocity thing. If he loses any velocity on that fastball…he’s a two-pitch pitcher with very iffy command…I don’t know, man. I’m just not playing with that fire for a team that’s currently 16-33.
So there ya go. Those are the seven guys I would absolutely be moving on from this year. Here’s how I’d line up from August 1st through the end of the 2022 season:
- LF: Nick Pratto
- CF: Kyle Isbel
- RF: Hunter Dozier
- 3B: Emmanuel Rivera
- SS: Bobby Witt Jr.
- 2B: Nicky Lopez
- 1B: Vinnie Pasquantino
- C: MJ Melendez/Salvador Perez
- DH: MJ Melendez/Salvador Perez
- Bench: Cam Gallagher
- Bench: Edward Olivares
- Bench: Ivan Castillo
Pitchers are flexible. They’ve got enough depth in Omaha for two months.
I know this won’t be popular, but this team sucks, man. You’ve got to find a way to get younger and more competitive, quickly. You prematurely started your six-year clock this spring and it’s ticking, fast. Not that I blame them inherently…treating players like they did with Bobby Witt Jr. is noble at worst. Just saying…it’s going to suck on the field if they can’t make the playoffs until Bobby Witt Jr. is making arbitration money instead of rookie money.
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