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Trade candidate: Luke Hochevar

Is the only number one draft pick in Royals history on the trading block?


Ken Rosenthal reported what those of us in Royals Universe have sadly known for awhile: The Royals are not looking to move any of their veteran talent at the trade deadline. He did note if Dayton Moore and the Royals did decide to make a "selling" move at the deadline, Rosenthal speculated that Luke Hochevar would be a natural candidate to deal.


Luke Hochevar.

The Red Sox have reportedly been scouting the Royals this week and have been trolling for bullpen help. Hochevar is making $4.56 million this year as a low-leverage relief pitcher. According to Baseball Reference, Hochevar's average Leverage Index is 0.51. The only Royal reliever with a lower aLI is the recently departed J.C. Gutierrez. When I called for the firing of Dayton Moore, his roster management was one of the reasons I cited where I lost faith in the General Manager. Tendering Hochevar last off season is a prime example of the roster mismanagement we routinely see from the current regime. He was a long shot to make the rotation, and at his salary, is far too expensive for a team with plenty of bullpen arms in the system.

Looking forward, it's difficult to see where Hochevar fits in 2014 for the Royals. Hell, it was difficult to see where he fit in 2013, but he's here. He is again eligible for arbitration next year and it's difficult to imagine even Moore bringing him back for a salary in the $6 million range. With so many teams like the Red Sox in the market for a right-handed reliever, it makes total sense for the Royals to dangle him out there. It's not even a question. Hochevar should be on the market and he should be dealt within the next week.

But that would brand the Royals "sellers" and Moore hates that term. So, yeah.

If Hochevar were dealt, it's difficult to imagine a scenario where the Royals get any kind of value in return. In March, several teams inquired on Hochevar's trade status and were rebuffed by the asking price, which was reported to be "quite a bit" in return. Of course it was.

Is there any team that overvalues it's players more than the Royals?

Hochevar has nice peripherals coming out of the pen. He owns a 9.5 SO/9 and a 2.5 BB/9. He's allowed just four home runs in 36 innings and has a 2.00 ERA and 3.48 xFIP. He's allowed five out of 17 inherited runners to score and 20 of his 30 appearances this year have come with his team trailing. Despite the solid numbers, the Royals have been slow to trust Hochevar. It's difficult to see a team looking at him more than a rental.

On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Brewers sent their closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Orioles in exchange for Nick Delmonico. Delmonico was Baltimore's sixth-rated prospect by Baseball Prospectus heading into 2013 and is hitting .244/.351/.471 in High-A. That's a pretty good haul for the Brewers. Hochevar has stronger numbers this year, but lacks the saves and the closer pedigree. That counts in GM circles. Rodriguez, who opened the season on a minor league deal, is also making half of what Hochevar will earn this year.

I'm thinking if the Royals trade Hochevar, there's no way the approach what the Brewers got for Rodriguez. The best they could do would be a low-grade prospect. A lottery ticket. And that's probably not going to be enough to persuade a GM on the hot seat to improve his team now to make a trade.