The Royals may want to look at the trade deadline with not only an eye towards someone that can help them this year, but someone that can help in future seasons as well. With the Angels floundering in the standings, one pitcher that could fit that bill is Wednesday night's starter, right-hander Matt Shoemaker.
You may remember Shoemaker from the 2014 ALDS, where he started Game 2 against the Royals. He gave up just one unearned run over six innings in that start, a game the Royals would come back to win, but it was part of a remarkable season that saw Shoemaker come out of nowhere to win 16 games as a 27-year old rookie.
The right-hander regressed last year and was even briefly demoted, before ending his season prematurely with forearm stiffness. He ended the year with a 4.46 ERA in 25 games. He was demoted again this May after an ERA over nine to start the year, but he has been fantastic lately, posting a 2.36 ERA over his last eleven starts. Scouts have been "raving" about his splitter, which has helped him with a 36.8% ground ball rate.
Overall he has a 4.08 ERA, but a 3.35 FIP. He has showed terrific command this year, and has struck out over a hitter per inning, boasting the fifth-best strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball. He has increased his velocity slightly this year, averaging 91.6 mph on his fastball. Shoemaker has been average at giving up the long-ball, giving up 13 home runs, or a rate of 1.2 per-nine-innings.
The Angels have received inquiries about Shoemaker, but are reluctant to deal him, since he is cheap and under club control for several seasons. Shoemaker would not be eligible for free agency until 2021, and is not even eligible for arbitration until after next year. However, with such a thin farm system, they may want to sell on Shoemaker while his value is high, since he has such an unproven track record and was successful at such a late age.
Expect the price to be fairly high for a pitcher with so many controllable years left. The Angels do have a third base prospect in Kaleb Cowart, although he hasn’t put up the numbers in AAA that Hunter Dozier has. The Angels are very thin in minor league pitching, but the Royals don’t have many high-upside arms they could offer. However, if the Royals can put together a solid package and decide to make a move for both the short- and long-term, Shoemaker would make sense as a mid-rotation starter that is cheap enough to allow them to make other moves this winter.