The August 1 trade deadline is two weeks away, but the Royals have already been linked to several trade rumors, primarily to starting pitchers. However, there have been persistent rumors that the Royals have been seeking a bat to help the second-worst offense in the American League in runs scored. In his Sunday column, George King III of the New York Post reports the Royals and Yankees talked about bringing Carlos Beltran back to Kansas City in a deal for reliever Luke Hochevar.
The 39-year old Beltran is enjoying his best season in five years, hitting .294/.332/.539 with 19 HR 58 RBI in 85 games for the Yankees, and was named to his ninth All-Star Game. The switch-hitter has benefited from the short porch in Yankee Stadium with 12 of his 19 home runs coming in the Bronx, but he is still a .310/.329/.503 hitter on the road. The Royals may have been more motivated to do a trade back when Kendrys Morales was still struggling, looking to Beltran as someone that could spell him at DH, while playing some right field as well. Beltran has played 54 games in right-field this year, although his defense is quite poor at this point in his career. With Paulo Orlando hitting just .227/.250/.288 over the last month, the Royals may again seek some offense to play right field.
Hochevar’s inclusion in the deal is curious, considering the Yankees already have a terrific bullpen and if they are trading off assets, they would have little use for Hochevar. King says that Hochevar was "involved" in the return, but a potential deal would probably include some young Royals prospects as well. Hochevar has a 3.86 ERA and 10.0 strikeouts-per-nine innings in 37 appearances this year. He is in the second year of a two-year contract that will pay him $5.5 million this year with a $7 million mutual option for 2017. Beltran earns $15 million and can become a free agent this winter. Perhaps Hochevar’s inclusion in the potential deal was meant to offset Beltran’s salary for the cost-conscious Royals. It could also help allow the Yankees to trade one of their other relievers - Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman - and still compete. It has been reported their braintrust is divided over whether to be buyers or sellers at the deadline.
Beltran has a limited no-trade clause, but the Royals are not one of the teams he can veto a trade to, according to MLB Trade Rumors. The Royals heavily pursued Beltran when he was a free agent before the 2014 season.