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Hok Talk: Things are about to get tense

That was a very relaxing week. Now let’s turn up the Hot Stove. (As opposed to the Cold Stove, I guess)

Salvador Perez in his All-Star Game jersey Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Before we jump back into the grind of the baseball season and start talking about the trade deadline and other second-half shenanigans, I want to quickly talk about how cool the All-Star Week was.

First of all, it was awesome to have Salvador Perez represent the team as a starter again. It can be really easy for Royals fans to dismiss him as over-hyped; familiarity breeds contempt and all that. But the voting for Salvy outside the Kansas City market shows that he, at least, is well-regarded by other fans outside KC. And whether he crumbles in the second half or not, I can’t think of anyone on the team who deserves that recognition more.

Watching him in the Home Run Derby was also really cool. The entire concept of the Home Run Derby just doesn’t really jive for me as a spectator competition. There are three aspects of a home run that make them an exciting play during the course of a game: the runs scored, the majesty of the ball soaring through the sky, and the ridiculous numbers that we can associate with them, such as distance traveled, exit velocity, etc. The Derby eliminates the first two. I know many people were excited for this year’s change that saw no attempt to prevent pitchers from throwing balls before the last one had landed, and while I applaud that from a competition standpoint, I think it was a detriment to the viewing aspect. I can’t really watch that last ball fly out of the park because I have to watch the hitter’s next swing. As for the other, when every competitor is going to hit 20+ of these, the value of an individual home run is diminished compared to what they’re worth in a single game. The Home Run Derby is Inflation for Dummies.

The Statcast Derby broadcast on ESPN 2 did at least maintain the final aspect that makes the dingers fun, and I was grateful for that. I was additionally grateful for the show Salvy put on. I sort of assumed he would be completely outclassed in a field that had Shohei Ohtani, Peter Alonso, Trevor Story, and Joey Gallo. But it turns out he was among the best out there; he just had a bad first-round matchup. I can’t get too upset, though, because I know Salvy did something no one else did; he went into the bonus minute needing 18 bombs and still found a way to put up 11. That’s a home run nearly every 5 seconds, and it was pretty cool.

I was also a fan of the All-Star Sho

Not every All-Star appearance can stand as the most memorable of all time. That’s just how reality works. That said, I thought it was cool of AL Manager Kevin Cash to attempt to show him off and smart of MLB to bend the rules for Shohei Ohtani in the All-Star Game. In the same way Patrick Mahomes has reshaped the idea of what an NFL quarterback can be, Shohei Ohtani is reshaping the landscape of what MLB can be. Neither one of them is opening a floodgate of people who can do the same thing and have been held back, but they’re still redefining the sport in a really cool way. MLB has a long history of getting in its own way when its stars begin to redefine the sport in a positive way, so it was nice to see them let Shohei do his whole thing on a national stage.

The Royals have two weeks to overhaul their team

I feel like almost every year around this time, we start hearing, “This team could look very different in two weeks!” and then it never does. So now seems like an excellent opportunity to label some buckets and throw some names in them based on how we’ve seen the Royals operate in the past.

Not going anywhere

Salvador Perez, Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi, Bobby Witt Jr. Anyone not listed below.

Probably gone

Michael A Taylor - He offers any contender some speed and defense off of the bench along with some power potential. He was hot headed into the All-Star Break, and that might make someone decide to take a gamble they can keep him there.

Greg Holland - He’s not adding enough to the Royals to justify keeping him, but he could be a good help for another team that can afford to keep him lower on the depth chart and use him less often to fill in some gaps.

Wouldn’t be surprised either way

Carlos Santana - I can see the Royals hanging on to him and hoping to use his on-base skills to compete next year, but I can also see a contender deciding to part with a prospect or two (depending on how much salary the Royals will eat) to add a proven depth bat.

Jarrod Dyson - Like Taylor, Dyson offers speed and defense. Unlike Taylor, he doesn’t have the pop in his bat, and he’s older now, so teams might trust him less on the basepaths. Moore may want to keep him for sentimental reasons over trading him for cash, too.

Unlikely to budge

Mike Minor - He’s under contract through next season and has been awful in his last few starts

Scott Barlow - He’s got tons of value on the open market, but if the Royals have taught me anything, it’s that they never deal guys at the height of their value.

Danny Duffy - The Royals probably should be trying to trade him, but I think he might have been serious when he said he wanted to be buried a Royal, and he has his 10-5 rights so he can reject any trade.

The young pitching - This is the wrong time to trade any of those guys

Jorge Soler - No one is going to pay for what he has to offer. That said, he’s probably going to be cut at some point near the deadline barring a hot streak. The Royals could trade him off of waivers for a bag of balls.

Andrew Benintendi - I fully expect the Royals to extend him this off-season. Something about his easy, calm demeanor reminds me of Alex Gordon, and I think Moore and the Royals will want to keep in left field for a long time to come now that the real Alex Gordon is finally retired.

Ervin Santana - Some team might want him for some extra pitching depth, but I doubt anyone wants him badly enough to trade for him.

As for the coaches, I expect them to all stick around to the end of the season and for Terry Bradshaw and Cal Eldred to need new jobs the day after the World Series ends. Moore has had plenty of opportunity to fire one or both of them. Since he’s gone this long without doing so, I expect him to wait until the season is complete. The one caveat is if the team comes out of the break and looks as bad or worse than they did going into it. They might find themselves on the chopping block by early August if Moore feels like he needs to do something to shake up the team.