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Brandon Finnegan might be on the trading block

The 2014 first rounder's performance across multiple levels this year may have soured the organization on him.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

It is that seasonAndy McCullough reports the following regarding Brandon Finnegan (included so no one gets confused):

This looks like just a lost year for his development. Wouldn't be shocked if his name comes up in trade talks in the next couple weeks.

That's nothing more than an offhand comment from a beat reporter in an internet chat. BUT LET'S OVERREACT ANYWAY.

Honestly, there are a lot of things to consider when putting Finnegan on the trading block. He was a first round draft pick only last year, he pitched in the College World Series only last year, and he pitched in the World Series only last year. He was a fast riser in 2014, and there's no reason to think that the team can't coax out his talent. He's thrown all of 51 innings in the minor leagues and only 24.2 innings in the majors. That's a heavily-used single reliever season. That's not enough. We can't say that because his 2015 performance is disappointing compared to his 2014 performance we should trade him.

Having said that, there are things outside Finnegan himself that present an interesting situation. The Royals are going to be pretty squeezed on salary next year with some probably ineffectual performers. Omar Infante and Jason Vargas (though I like Vargas more than most) come to mind. The Royals could use some salary relief. And, wouldn't you know it, there is recent precedent for a team "buying" a prospect in a trade.

Enter Dave Stewart and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Last week, the Dbacks included Touki Toussaint in a trade. Toussaint, if you didn't know, was the selection immediately before Finnegan in last year's draft. He is younger than Finnegan and possibly less talented (Finnegan has better grades than Toussaint on their FanGraphs pages), but I can't say much about their comparative talents. What I can say are things about the Toussaint trade.

Wanting salary relief, the Dbacks packaged Toussaint and Bronson Arroyo together to the Braves for Philip Gosselin, who I think is an infielder of some description. While the Dbacks gave up Toussaint, they also gave up all salary commitments to Arroyo, which totaled about $10 million. Dave Cameron at FanGraphs took a look at Toussaint's trade value and concluded that the Dbacks probably sold Toussaint for less than they could have; his value was maybe closer to $20 million. On some level, the Dbacks were not enamored with Toussaint's performance, so they got rid of him in exchange for money.

The Royals might be in a similar situation. Wanting salary relief, they could trade away a prospect on which they may also have soured. Let's make some assumptions. These are BIG assumptions. Assume that because of Finnegan's performance, the Royals really are down on him. Assume that they really do want salary relief. Assume that Finnegan is rated a better prospect than Toussaint. Let's call Finnegan's worth $30 million. The remaining guaranteed money to Infante and Vargas totals $34.25 million for 2016-2018.

Could the Royals package Brandon Finnegan + a prospect + Infante + Vargas to some team and get almost nothing in return? A utility infielder, perhaps? What about Finnegan + $4 million + Infante + Vargas?

I want to be clear. I'm NOT saying this is a good idea. Following the example of Dave Stewart and the Dbacks may not be a good idea. Even having Finnegan on the trading block may not be a good idea. The Dbacks are not a winning team. The Royals are winning and need pitching depth. Finnegan can get major league hitters out in some capacity, while Toussaint is 19 and in A ball. But the weird parallels are there.

It's trade season, so we're just kicking the tires, right?