The Royals are unlikely to make a big trade this winter, due to the fact they have a thin farm system right now and they would be reluctant to break up parts of a championship-winning ballclub. However with holes to fill in left- and right-field, as well as in the starting rotation, Dayton Moore may look to get creative in a swap. How valuable are the assets on the current roster? Let's rank the trade value of the players on the 40-man roster, from least to greatest. Remember, salary, age, and contract status matter. Also, this is not an endorsement that any of these players should be dealt, it is simply a ranking to determine who would be most valuable on the trade market.
40. Jason Vargas
Vargas is pretty untradeable right now. He will miss most, if not all of the 2016 season after having Tommy John surgery, and even when he returns he will be a 33-year old starting pitcher with a low ceiling on a fairly expensive contract. At the very least, Vargas has to prove his health before the Royals can think about trading him.
39. Omar Infante
Omar has negative trade value due to the fact the Royals still owe him nearly $18 million over the next two seasons. Sure, Omar Infante has a flashy glove, and that has value. However his defense is not enough to overcome his atrocious bat, which has been a major liability for two seasons now. Out of 34 second baseman in baseball with at least 500 plate appearances the last two seasons combined, Omar Infante ranks 32nd in OPS with a line of .238/.268/.329. Not surprisingly, the Royals have tried to trade Omar this winter, but are finding no takers. To make any deal feasible, the Royals will either have to eat money, swap Omar for another player on a bad contract, or include valuable prospects to make the deal worthwhile for another team. Those scenario seem rather unlikely.
37-38. Lane Adams, Scott Alexander
It is unlikely you could get more than "cash considerations" for these players, who would likely clear waivers if designated for assignment.
34-36. Drew Butera, Louis Coleman, Tony Cruz
These players could be acquired for a very marginal minor league player. Cruz was just acquired for a 19-year old non-prospect, and Butera was acquired last year for journeyman AAA infielder Ryan Jackson.
30-33. Brett Eibner, Brian Flynn, Reymond Fuentes, Jose Martinez
These players still have some upside, but they are no longer young and the clock is ticking. The Royals could likely get a non-prospect AAA player or even pick up a marginal Major League player on a bad contract.
29. Terrance Gore
Gore is still hard to peg. There are many doubts he'll ever hit enough to provide any value with his bat, but his legs still provide so much value that it's hard to completely dismiss him. Gore likely doesn't have much trade value, but he provides more value to the Royals than the players behind him, making it difficult to deal him.
28. Tim Collins
When healthy, Collins has provided a solid 3.54 ERA with over a strikeout per inning. He faltered badly in 2014, then missed all of last year with Tommy John surgery, so his value has been hurt quite a bit. Still, he could get a useful minor leaguer from a team starved for relief help. However Collins will have to prove he is healthy before he really draws interest from other teams.
27. Paulo Orlando
Orlando had some big hits for the Royals in 2015 and was a very likeable player with a compelling story coming from Brazil. He is a late bloomer at age 29 who has speed to burn. However, he is a reminder of the adage "you can't steal first base." Among all 114 outfielders in baseball with 250 plate appaearances, Orlando ranked second-to-last in on-base percentage at .269. Orlando's case is similar to that of David Lough, a former Royals farmhand who provided one good year based on defense and baserunning and was dealt to Baltimore for third baseman Danny Valencia.
24-26. Alec Mills, Matthew Strahm, Ramon Torres
These minor leaguers still have prospect status but are not Top Ten prospects in the system, and are borderline Top 20 prospects.They are young enough to still have upside and can be a second or third piece in a larger piece for a proven Major Leaguer, or used in a deadline deal for a few months of a useful Major Leaguer the way Jason Adam was used in the Josh Willingham deal back in 2014.
23. Jorge Bonifacio
Bonifacio saved his prospect status by slamming 17 home runs for AA Northwest Arkansas last year, but still struggles to get on base. He is still just 22 and has enough power potential to be an enticing prospect. His stock is not high enough to serve as the centerpiece for a deal, but he could be a nice second piece in a trade for a low ceiling Major Leaguer.
22. Christian Colon
Colon is no longer young at age 26, but he has put up decent Major League numbers in limited time with a career line of .303/.361/.382 in 168 plate appearances. The Royals seem to have concerns about his defense, but he would still be a useful trade chip for a reliever or a marginal prospect.
21. Cheslor Cuthbert
Cuthbert is still just 23 and had a decent year in AAA Omaha, although not a great one. He showed some flashes in 19 Major League games, but he still doesn't seem like he'll push Mike Moustakas out of a starting job quite yet. He could have some value to a team desperate for a young third baseman, but I would not expect him to bring in much for a trade as of yet.
20. Chris Young
Chris Young isn't terribly expensive, and has put up decent numbers with the Royals. He could help a lot of teams without costing much. Young wouldn't net a top ten prospect, but perhaps a prospect just outside the top twenty in an organization.
19. Jarrod Dyson
Dyson is another difficult player to peg. His trade value depends largely on how other teams measure defense and baserunning. The more stat-based teams may see him as a very underrated asset, while more traditional teams may see his utility limited to the bench. By himself, Dyson may net a useful reliever or a former prospect who has fallen out of favor, much like the Craig Gentry-for-Michael Choice deal a few years ago.
18. Luke Hochevar
Relievers are all en vogue right now, so an arm like Luke Hochevar will be attractive to other clubs. However Luke is just one year removed from Tommy John surgery, and the Royals still handled Hochevar with kid gloves last year. Hooch's ERA (3.73) and FIP (4.00) weren't great, although his strikeouts and walks were pretty solid. He's also not particularly cheap, earning $5.5 million next year with a $7 million club option for 2017.
17. Bubba Starling
Bubba finally seems to be coming around as a prospect, and the Royals seem to think he'll be starting in the outfield by 2017. He just turned 23 and while his line at AA Northwest Arkansas of .254/.318/.426 was an improvement, its still not great. Starling's defense is supposedly Major League-ready, so as long as a team believe his bat can come around, he can still be an asset that could be part of a package to land a Major League player.
16. Miguel Almonte
Almonte won't turn 23 until April and has a live arm, so he will still have value even though his minor league numbers don't look terrific. There are still doubts that Almonte can stick as a starting pitcher, but with his velocity, many teams should be interested in him, especially since he is close to Major League-ready. Almonte can be a nice second piece in a major trade or he could net a decent overpaid Major League player.
15. Kendrys Morales
Morales just won the Edgar Martinez Designated Hitter Award, but designated hitters have pretty limited value, especially since half the league won't be able to use him. There haven't been a ton of true designated hitters dealt recently, so its hard to say what the trade value would be, but if a younger designated hitter-type player like Mark Trumbo is not worth very much, the Royals aren't likely to get too much more for an older, better player like Morales.
14. Kris Medlen
Medlen might be much higher by next summer if he can continue to prove his health and his ability to handle a full load. Medlen's upside is close to a front-of-the-line starter, but he has only pitched 58 1/3 innings since Tommy John surgery, so teams may still be wary.
13. Alcides Escobar
Despite being an All-Star and the lead-off hitter for much of the season, Alcides actually had one of his worst offensive seasons. He is signed for two more years at a below-market rate, but the metrics don't consider him quite the elite defensive shortstop that the Gold Glove voters consider him. Don't expect the Royals to bring in the haul the Braves received for Gold Glover Andrelton Simmons, but the Royals could net perhaps a nice live minor league arm or two.
12. Joakim Soria
Soria just signed as a free agent, so technically he cannot be traded until June. The 31-year old reliever had no shortage of suitors no the free agent market, so if the Royals ever dealt him, there would be plenty of takers. He is a bit expensive, but baseball is awash in cash, so a good reliever like Soria should have no problem finding a team willing to take on his deal, and give up a decent prospect as well.
11. Danny Duffy
The upcoming season is a big one for the Duffman. It is unclear whether the Royals see him as a starter or as a reliever, but if they have given up on him as a starter, a trade may be more useful than sending him to a stacked pen. Duffy has been maddeningly inconsistent, but he'll be 27 next week, so the clock is ticking on him to turn a corner and become a solid starter. He has shown enough flashes of potential to entice teams, and at the very worst he looks like he could be a dominant reliever, so teams may be willing to part with a fringe-starting Major League player or a pair of decent non-top prospects.
10. Kelvin Herrera
Relievers are highly valued right now, and Herrera is not only very good, but he is cheap as well. Herrera could probably serve as a closer for a few teams, but will set-up in the seventh inning for the Royals. His FIP was a bit high last year, and his strikeout rate isn't as high as some other relievers around the league, but Herrera is cost-controlled the next two seasons and could net a decent prospect or perhaps even a below-average Major League regular.
9. Edinson Volquez
Volquez had a solid season last year and has another year on his contract plus a $10 million club option for 2017. In this inflated free agent market, Volquez is actually at a below-market rate if he can continue the success he has established the last two seasons. The Royals could probably net a decent prospect or a solid regular in return for Easy Ed.
8. Kyle Zimmer
Despite all the injury setbacks, Zimmer is still the top arm in the system. If healthy, his stuff is very close to being Major League-ready. Zimmer still has top-of-the-rotation potential, and even if injuries continue to plague him, teams may see a future for him as a shut-down reliever. Zimmer could still be the centerpiece of a trade for a very good Major League player.
7. Mike Moustakas
It was just a year ago that many Royals fans wanted to cut bait on Moose completely, but the Royals patiently stuck with him and he rewarded them with the best season of his career. Moustakas still has a very inconsistent track record, so he's no sure thing going forward. But many teams would love his glove and would bank on his new approach. Moustakas could net a good prospect or a useful mid-rotation pitcher.
6. Raul Mondesi
Mondesi is easily the jewel of the Royals farm system. Even though his numbers continue to be underwhelming, everyone seems to agree the tools are there for him to become a solid-to-elite shortstop. The Royals sound very reluctant to deal their top prospect, but if they did, they could use Mondesi as the headliner in a deal for an All-Star caliber player with a year or two left of club control.
5. Wade Davis
The Red Sox just paid through the nose for reliever Craig Kimbrel, and while Davis only has two years of control left instead of Kimbrel's three, he's also an arguably better reliever. Wade's value could go up this year, as he handles closing duties full time now. The market for relievers is inflated now that the Royals have demonstrated success with a dominant bullpen. If the Royals wanted to part with Wade Davis, the return could be quite high.
4. Eric Hosmer
Hosmer can still be a very streaky hitter that goes through slumps and hot streaks, but he has now solidified himself as a post-season hero with his clutch October hitting and iconic run home against the Mets. At 26, Hosmer is still very young for a guy that will be a free agent in two seasons. In an age where the average American League first baseman hit .254/.330/.444 last year, Hosmer's line of .297/.363/.459 with solid defense is very valuable.
3. Lorenzo Cain
Cain took a huge leap in performance this year, finishing third in MVP balloting with career highs in virtually every offensive category. His defense took a slight step back, but he is still among the best. Cain has done a much better job staying healthy the last two seasons, playing in a career-high 140 games this year. He is due for a significant pay raise this year, but is still very affordable for the value he produces. Many teams would love to get their hands on an elite defender in centerfield who can be a threat in the middle of the lineup, and the Royals could demand a hefty package of players in return for Cain.
2. Salvador Perez
I had Salvador ranked #1 in last year's rankings, but his offensive numbers continue to slide. He had a career-high 21 home runs, but his on-base percentage dropped for the fifth-consecutive season, down to .280. Salvy is still a very young, valuable catcher signed to a very club-friendly deal, but he may not become the offensive force we might have envisioned during his first few seasons.
1. Yordano Ventura
Yordano had an up-and-down year and probably didn't take quite the step forward the club hoped he would, but he had a terrific second half and is still one of the most promising young pitchers in the league. Additionally, he signed a reasonable contract extension last winter that keeps him under club control through 2020. We have seen just how steep the price tag for young pitching can be this winter, that is why Yordano is now the Royals' most valuable trade asset.