The Royals have traded right-handed pitcher Homer Bailey to the Oakland Athletics, according to ESPN reporter Jeff Passan. According to Jeffery Flanagan, the Royals will receive middle infielder Kevin Merrell. The 23-year old was a former first round pick, selected 33rd overall in the 2017 draft out of the University of South Florida. He hit .246/.292/.339 with two home runs and 13 steals in 82 games for AA Midland this season. Merrell hits for very little power and draws few walks, but he did hit .384 in his junior year at South Florida and shows some very good speed.
The Royals love players who can run, and the one they got in return for Homer Bailey, infielder Kevin Merrell, certainly qualifies. He's one of the fastest players in the minor leagues. Scouts question his hit and power tools. He's currently slashing .246/.292/.339 at Double-A.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 14, 2019
He’s still learning his left-handed swing and he had a tendency to hook balls on the ground early on. He’s now working on getting some separation so he can impact the ball, and he’s learning to slash the ball to the left side so he can use his legs to help him more. The combination of approach and speed could make him an above-average hitter, albeit one with little power, in time.
They note he is “unorthodox” defensively and question where he will end up defensively. He will be assigned to AA Northwest Arkansas.
The 33-year old Bailey was 7-6 with a 4.80 ERA in 18 starts with the Royals, with 81 strikeouts and 38 walks in 90 innings pitched. He has pitched particularly well of late, allowing just eight runs in 29 innings over his last five starts.
Bailey was signed by the Royals to a minor league deal after the Dodgers let him go, but the Dodgers will remain on the hook for most of his $23 million salary. The Royals were paying him just the league minimum, which is what likely made him so attractive to a cost-conscious club like the Athletics.
Trade season has begun a bit early, with the Red Sox acquiring Orioles pitcher Andrew Cashner yesterday for two minor leaguers. The Royals appear to have jumped into the trade market to get some value for the future. They love speed, and Merrell is said to have 70-grade speed, so you can see the fit there, and with a 6 percent walk rate, and not much in the way of results so far offensively, you can see why maybe Oakland was willing to part with him. It sounds like perhaps a move to the outfield could be in Merrell’s future, but at this point, you’ll take a toolsy former first-round pick already at AA for Homer Bailey, a guy who was really a surprise to even make the roster just three months ago.