Baseball is heading into the dog days of summer and with the trade deadline two months away, you can expect the start of rumor season. According to MLB.com reporter Mark Feinsand, the Royals have let teams know that “nearly anybody on their roster is available in a trade” with the exception of a few untouchables like Adalberto Mondesi and Hunter Dozier.
Not listed as untouchable is Whit Merrifield, who the Royals just signed to a four-year, $16.25 million deal back in January. In fact, Feinsand’s source calls Merrifield a “most intriguing trade candidate” due to his production and his very club-friendly contract. Merrifield led all of baseball in hits and stolen bases last year and over the 2018-19 seasons he has been tied for the 18th-most valuable position player in all of baseball with 6.9 WAR, according to Fangraphs. The Cubs, Red Sox, Athletics, Indians, and Rockies are all teams that could use depth at second base, and Whit’s versatility could allow him to be attractive for any potential contender.
Feinsand also discusses Jorge Soler, Alex Gordon, Danny Duffy, and Ian Kennedy as potential trade candidates. Soler has been healthy this year and is on pace to set a career high in games played and is on pace to hit 40 home runs. Soler makes just $4 million next year and would be under club control through the 2021 season (Feinsand incorrectly writes he would be a free agent after 2020).
Alex Gordon has 10-5 rights, a provision that allows any veteran with ten years of experience and five of the last seasons with the same club to reject any trade, which could complicate a potential deal. Gordon is enjoying a career renaissance at the plate and will likely be a free agent at the end of the season. To move Duffy or Kennedy, the Royals would likely have to cover some of their salary. Duffy is owed $30.75 million over the next two seasons and Kennedy will still make $16.5 million next season.
Not mentioned by Feinsand but perhaps the most likely Royals player to be traded is reliever Jake Diekman. The left-handed reliever has been on a roll after a slow start and has a 3.00 ERA with 13.1 strikeouts-per-nine innings. The Royals will also likely look to move other veterans on one-year deals like Brad Boxberger, Billy Hamilton, Lucas Duda, and Homer Bailey, although the market will likely be pretty dry for those players unless they can improve this summer.
The trade deadline is July 31, and unlike in past years, there will be no trades allowed after that date, with waiver trades eliminated this season.
The Royals were talking about making a run at the Wild Card just a few weeks ago, but with little improvement in the standings, sanity may be prevailing. The Royals should be looking to move any asset they can that is not part of the future, which could lead to some difficult decisions on Soler and Merrifield. Soler’s lack of progress defensively could earn him a ticket out of town, and the emergence of Nicky Lopez could make Merrifield more expendable. This season may be a lost one in the standings for the Royals but how they handle the next two months could have a huge impact on if the Royals can return to contention.