Going to throw out a wild card of sorts for our first look at a potential offseason target for the Royals, the Cubs 2B/OF Arismendy Alcantara.
The main appeal of Arismendy is his age, upside, and cost controlled years still remaining. He just turned 23 this past October and he'll have another 6 years of control.
Alcantara was pushed somewhat aggressive by the Cubs in his minor league career, but that didn't stop the young man from hitting.
With both league adjusted metrics, Alcantara has been an above average hitter throughout his time in the high minors at a young age. He brings multiple aspects to the field and in the box. He's a versatile defender who's played SS, 3B, 2B, and outfield in his minor league career and the defensive profile on him usually usually regarded as around league average at most positions he's played, but he's probably best utilized in right field.
On the offensive side of the ball, Alcantara offers a switch hitting profile with strong wrists with excellent bat speed and some punch. He hits better from the left side than the right, creating more power with his left handed swing. On the base paths Arismendy is a plus runner capable of stealing 20 bags a season. What will down play his offensive profile though is the swing and miss in his game. At the minor league level he struck out around 22% of the time, but that jumped to 31% in his limited 300 MLB plate appearances. You can expect that number to drop from 31%, but the question is how far. Alcantara also had a .266 BABIP in his major league stint. Something you can expect some regression on, especially given his speed.
Steamer's early projection for him says this:
That puts him nearly as an average MLB player, but I think he can beat that line personally, even if only by another half win or so.
Alcantara comes with some pedigree too as he was ranked as a Top-100 prospect by all 3 major outlets, Baseball America (#100), MLB (#89), and Baseball Prospectus (#83).
Baseball Prospectus ranked him as a the 6th best prospect in the Cubs system last year with this to say:
Alcantara would receive more attention in a weaker system, as the 22-year-old infielder has impact tools and could develop into a first-division talent at the major-league level. From the left side, Alcantara is an offensive threat, with bat speed and game power, but he struggles from his weaker right side, as the plane is flatter and the contact not nearly as hard. The speed is a weapon on base and in the field, and with more refinement should give him another above-average tool. A heavy dose of Triple-A secondary stuff will help the five-tool talent refine at the plate, and with any luck, Alcantara could get a major-league taste in 2014. While I'm not a big fan of comps, especially if they are forced, the industry suggested Jose Reyes-lite fits Alcantara very well.
I see him more as a league average player (~2 wins) with some upside into 3-4 win territory at a peak year. His realistic downside is more along the lines of a utility player.
What makes Alcantara even more attractive is his perceived availability. While he could ultimately fit into the Cubs roster as a utility player of sorts, he may not have a permanent home in the future. Most see Javier Baez, Starlin Castro, and Addison Russell pushing him out of an everday 2B/SS/3B role, which would relegate him to the outfield. The potential outfield for the Cubs is just as crowded with predictions of Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant (being moved off 3B by the previously mentioned players), Kyle Schwarber (if he's deemed unable to play catcher, but could ultimately play LF for 3 days a week) and Albert Almora. All prospects of higher pedigree and OFP than Alcantara. Prospects don't always pan out, but the above mentioned guys are generally regarded in the elite level of prospects (Top 10 for some and Top 50 for basically all) so it's a little easier for the Cubs to map out their future plans.
What would it take for Alcantara? As alluded to above, the Cubs are really full of position player prospects. The obvious trade piece would be for a pitcher and presumably a starter. Starting pitching is something the Royals will be needing in 2-3 years from now if things remain the same, and while they have some "depth" in pitching prospects, they too have to cover themselves for the future. On the other hand, they could trade from their "depth" (I quotation mark depth because TINSTAAPP) to find a long term hitting prospect with major league experience in a system with only one hitting prospect in or ready for AAA (Jorge Bonifacio). Would you trade Miguel Almonte (a generally regarded Top 100 prospect) for Alcantara?
Overall, Alcantara doesn't offer a superstar profile, but could eventually settle into an everyday right field or center field role for the Royals with maximum cost controlled years and service time still left. That's not a flashy trade, but would provide value for a small market team.
Peak year is a 3-4 win player with position versatility
Average tools across the board with arm and speed being plus-tools
6 years of team control still remaining
Switch hitter with potential for 10-15 home runs and 25-30 stolen bases
Former Top-100 prospect and just 23 years old
May settle more into a utility role
Likely output is a 2 win player (not really a con) on average
Better from the left side may negate switch hitting profile
Strikeout rates are slightly above league average (20%) and walk rate slightly below (7.6%)
Likely to cost a Royals Top-5 prospect or possibly two Top-10