Stocks. HGTV’s endless lineup of shows where you watch a person choose a house. Ebay and Amazon and Craigslist.
With under two weeks to the deadline, the Royals are flirting with .500, a precarious position in the crowded AL playoff picture. Conceivably, going 15-5 changes everything. Conceivably, going 5-15 changes everything in a different way. The Royals don’t appear quite ready to decide either way just yet, but they seem to be open to possibly selling next week. Plenty of people have suggested the Royals sell to recoup some prospects while not losing anything for next year.
Ok. That’s a fine idea. The trade market seems to favor sellers. Let’s look at that.
Several people around the Internet have suggested putting Kendrys Morales, Luke Hochevar, and Edinson Volquez on the block. Buyouts and Dayton Moore Mutual Options and whatever else those three have on their contracts aside, all three could be free agents next year and are owed reasonable amounts of money for the rest of the year.
But what if other bubble teams start to sell?
The Yankees have their own cadre of tradeable folks. You want Kendrys Morales? A resurgent pending-free-agent Carlos Beltran might also interest you (though he is more expensive). You want Edinson Volquez? The Yankees have Ivan Nova, who is younger and cheaper than Volquez (though perhaps less effective). They also have Nathan Eovaldi, who is much younger and throws really hard. You want Luke Hochevar? The Yankees have Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, both of whom are top-flight elite relievers. Chapman will be a free agent after this year, while Miller is owed $18M in 2017-2018. Teams will take 2/$18M for Miller.
The Mariners are right there too. For a Kendrys Morales, they have Adam Lind, though he has cratered this year. He is slightly cheaper than Morales. For a Luke Hochevar, they have Joaquin Benoit. Benoit hasn’t quite been himself this year, but it’s not unheard of for relievers to bounce back. He is a little more expensive than Hochevar. The Mariners used to have Mike Montgomery, but they just traded him. They don’t really have a comparable starting pitcher unless they made Wade Miley available, who is younger than Volquez and has a halfway decent track record and a decent contract.
The Tigers, White Sox, and Pirates are three other teams hanging around .500 who could try to buy or sell as well. So, five bubble teams not including the Royals. That does not include the definite selling teams, like the Brewers or Reds.
This trade market could get crowded in a hurry. A higher supply would naturally equal a lower return for the Royals. Hochevar compares fairly well to relievers not named Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, so the Royals could still get something good for him. Volquez has not impressed, so he’s likely in a similar tier as Nova but lower than Eovaldi mostly due to age. Overall, Morales has had a down season, and he’s seen some wild swings in performance (his rolling 15-game performance has swung right back down after his amazing peak). I’m not sure Morales would be valued more highly than other DH candidates out there.
If the Royals decide to trade a few players, I wouldn’t expect much. Don’t sit there and think "restock". They might get a lottery ticket or two or some fringy quad A guys for good depth, but restocking at this point seems unlikely. That’s not to say the Royals shouldn’t do it. I essentially have no opinion on the buy or sell debate.
So. Buy...or sell?