In three years, the Royals have gone from World Champions to a very bad baseball team, in fact, the worst team in baseball as of right now. They have dropped 18 of 21 June contests, sinking their overall record to 23-54, which is on pace for the worst record in franchise history.
But fear not, baseball actually rewards this kind of gross incompetence by giving the worst team in baseball the first overall pick in the following draft. The Royals may be in prime position right now, but there is still a lot of baseball left to be played, and the trade deadline could have a big impact. At last year’s deadline, there were six teams with a worse record than the Tigers. Detroit would trade Alex Avila, J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, and Justin Verlander that summer and dropped 41 of their final 58 games to sink to the worst record in baseball.
Infielder Bobby Witt, Jr. is expected to be one of the top players for the 2019 draft, but who will have first crack at him and others next year?
Kansas City Royals 23-54
Fangraphs projected record: 60-102
PECOTA projected record: 58-104
The Royals were pretty vocal about not tanking last winter, but the result has been worse than many teams more up-front about the rebuild process. The Royals have been outscored by 151 runs this year, by far the biggest negative run differential in baseball. They have been disastrous this month, and it doesn’t get any easier with their next 12 games against teams with winning records.
Who might be traded at the deadline? Mike Moustakas seems like a good bet to be dealt, since the Royals cannot get a draft pick as compensation for him when he leaves this winter. Lucas Duda could be dealt if he has any trade value, as could Jason Hammel, although both would have to improve their performance dramatically over the next month. Whit Merrifield and Danny Duffy have outside chances to be traded.
Baltimore Orioles 23-53
Fangraphs projected record: 62-100
PECOTA projected record: 62-100
Like the Royals, the Orioles didn’t expect to be this bad, signing free agent Alex Cobb to a four-year, $57 million deal before the season. Cobb has been a disaster, as has most of the pitching staff, which has the second-worst ERA in the league. Chris Davis is the worst everyday player in baseball, hitting an abysmal .151/.230/.242. Only Kansas City has scored fewer runs than the Baltimore. The Orioles still have 22 games left combined against the Yankees and Red Sox.
Who might be traded at the deadline? Manny Machado is expected to be the biggest trade target this summer. Closer Zach Britton could be pursued heavily if he can prove he is healthy after missing most of the first three months with an Achilles injury. Relievers Darren O’Day and Brad Brach could also be dealt, but Mychal Givens was considered “untouchable” last winter.
Chicago White Sox 26-51
Fangraphs projected record: 61-101
PECOTA projected record: 64-98
The White Sox expected to struggle as they are still in the middle of a rebuild, and many of the results from their younger players have been inconsistent. The infusion of prospects like outfielder Eloy Jimenez and pitchers Michael Kopech, Dane Dunning, and Alec Hansen could add some talent in the second half. The Royals and White Sox still have 12 head-to-head matchups.
Who might be traded at the deadline? The White Sox have discussed sending All-Star first baseman Jose Abreu to Boston and the Dodgers or Rockies could be interested as well. Joakim Soria has pitched well in the closer’s role for the Sox and could have some suitors this summer. Even James Shields has pitched well enough that he could draw some marginal interest.
Miami Marlins 31-47
Fangraphs projected record: 65-97
PECOTA projected record: 65-97
Look at Derek Jeter’s leadership in action! The Marlins also expected to be bad after the new ownership team purged the roster of stars like Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna. The team has played better recently, however, and is 11-11 this June.
Who might be traded at the deadline? Catcher J.T. Realmuto has drawn some interest, particularly from the Nationals. Reliever Kyle Barraclough could be a “sell high” candidate. Pitcher Dan Straily could draw some interest if he improves his performance. Really, anyone could be a trade candidate for the Marlins at this point.
Cincinnati Reds 32-45
Fangraphs projected record: 71-91
PECOTA projected record: 71-91
The Reds got off to a dreadful 8-27 start, but have played much better since then, and are actually having a winning month of June that included a two-game sweep of the Royals. They have three terrific hitters in Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett, and Eugenio Suarez and are actually fifth in the National League in runs scored. The pitching has been the weakness of the club, not unexpected considering they have had four pitchers with five starts or more who are under the age of 26.
Who might be traded at the deadline? Outfielder Adam Duvall has drawn some interest despite a disappointing season. Speedster Billy Hamilton has come up in trade rumors, and could be an interesting addition for a post-season push. Veteran reliever Jared Hughes has pitched very well and could be an asset. Closer Raisel Iglesias could also be on the block, although his asking price will be high.
New York Mets 31-44
Fangraphs projected record: 75-87
PECOTA projected record: 73-89
The Mets didn’t expect to be here, but they are the Mets, and they have really Metsed it up this year. It has been a trying season with injuries and terrible performances, leading to a 4-17 month of June that rivals only the Royals in ineptitude. Outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce and pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Jason Vargas have all missed significant time and are currently on the disabled list. The team has already released starting first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
Who might be traded at the deadline? Jacob deGrom has been mentioned as a candidate, although there are doubts he would actually get moved. Infielder Asdrubal Cabrera has played well enough to be considered by contenders. Closer Jeurys Familia could draw a lot of interest in a market that always needs relievers.
Detroit Tigers 36-42
Fangraphs projected record: 71-91
PECOTA projected record: 70-92
The Tigers are actually in second place right now, despite PECOTA projecting them to be the third-worst team in baseball. PECOTA and Fangraphs are both not very high on the Tigers to keep up their pace. The Tigers have been helped a lot by the White Sox, beating up on the Southsiders by taking eight of nine contests.
Who might be traded at the deadline? Despite clearing out a lot of the roster last summer, the Tigers could be aggressive again this year. Michael Fulmer is a solid, young pitcher with controllable years that could be very attractive to suitors. Lefty Francisco Liriano has pitched well enough to be an asset, and even Matt Boyd could be a trade piece. If the Tigers do get aggressive, closer Shane Greene and third baseman Nick Castellanos could also be dealt.
Will the Royals end up with the #1 pick in the 2019 draft?
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