Just gonna throw some stuff out there. Please don't meltdown in the comments.
Since I'm not "obsessed with winning" like David Glass, Dayton Moore, and Ned Yost, they don't consult me on these decisions. So since all I can do is speculate, I thought it'd be fun to make up some trade scenarios because daydreaming about the deal that turns this team into a real contender is the only solace I can find in terminal, slowly ulcerating bowels of modernity. Also more realistically, the idea of selling to build for the future still seems relevant. Even though it's tiring to consider year after year, there's some chance Dayton Moore can justify selling at the deadline. It seems very unlikely, but it could happen.
There's no indication that either team in the following machinations would even consider them, but using my extremely flawed human mind, I attempted to make them mutually beneficial.
So, here you go. Feel free to critique, tweak, and/or add to the list in the comments.
Eric Hosmer for Jon Lester
If Boston doesn't re-sign Lester soon, they'll have to at least consider trading him if they haven't surged back into the Wild Card race. Given how well he's pitching at the moment, they wouldn't seriously consider this deal as a one-for-one swap, but Hosmer represents a more polished reward than the one the Red Sox receive if they stick to their guns and let Lester walk in free agency after this season. They'll extend the qualifying offer and he will decline it, so the Sox might consider trading him for a player that represents a more certain value than a fringe top 30 amateur.
It's a pipe dream, but turning Hosmer into a potential playoff appearance and a first round pick seems pretty tempting right now.
Billy Butler for Jesus Montero & Carson Smith
Montero isn't a lost cause anymore. Or maybe he is. It's hard to tell. After becoming something of a joke to Internet Baseball, Montero bounced has bounced back. He's hitting .310/.375/.528 with 13 homers over 328 plate appearances in Triple-A Tacoma this year. If the Seattle front office still views him as an underachiever, the Royals could swap him for Butler and perhaps sneak a useful reliever like Smith onto the deal. It might be worth a shot since Butler is unlikely to be back with the Royals next year -- unless they agree to a new, reduced contract -- and Montero is still cost-controlled via arbitration.
Alex Gordon for Mookie Betts, Henry Owens, and Allen Webster
Sorry if this is conceptually undeveloped, but I'm currently weeping bitter Knowshon Moreno tears at the thought of only having one more season of Alex Gordon in Kansas City. But that's reality. Maybe it would be best to consider moving him now. He's not going to sign a long term deal with Kansas City -- unless they make an absurd offer. They won't.
James Shields for Luis Severino & Gregory Bird
At this point, the Royals could trade Shields for prospects, call up John Lamb, and still hope for the best in 2014. Shields has been less incredible than he was in 2013, and the Royals could probably turn him into a few prospects this summer rather than settling for the draft pick they'll get when he turns down their qualifying offer in November. The Yankees could really use Shields, and yes, it would hurt to see him in pinstripes, but New York's minor league system actually has a few pretty interesting guys. There's probably less than a one percent chance Moore trades Shields before the deadline, but it could happen. And if it does, it'd probably be best for the Royals to dangle Shields in front of the pitching-starved Yankees first. They won't get a star-studded return for him since he's only a three-month rental, but they could turn him into more than one amateur rospect.
Eric Hosmer & Miguel Almonte for Adrian Beltre
This is conceptually the same as the Lester scenario above. Hosmer might be the star everyone expected him to be in Arlington, and Miguel Almonte is a top 50 prospect, according to Baseball Prospectus' midseason list. Would that be enough for the Royals to pry the 35-year-old away from Texas? No. Probably not, but they'd have to at least consider it Moore proposed such an offer.
I agree. They're all horrible, but this is the part of the season when wild speculation is commonplace. The traditional prospects-for-All-Stars trades will be numerous, so I mixed in a few excessively offbeat examples to keep it lively. It seems a lot more likely that the Royals make another Ibanez-ish move than something as substantial as the dreck listed above, but it might be time for the front office to make a panic move for this season. If not, maybe it's time to admit failure -- once again -- and position themselves for a better future -- once again.