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Royals Review Roundtable: The trade deadline

Will the Royals be “transactional” this week?

Cincinnati Reds v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The trade deadline is Friday, and the Royals may have a few discussions on deals with reports indicating the Seattle Mariners have made a push for second baseman Whit Merrifield, and the Giants, Padres, and Dodgers all reportedly interested in Danny Duffy despite his injury. The Padres have been rumored to be shopping Eric Hosmer, with speculation that the Royals could be a suitor. Carlos Santana, Mike Minor, Jorge Soler, Greg Holland, Scott Barlow, and Michael Taylor could all also be in trade discussions this week.

We brought our writing staff together to talk about what the Royals may do this week.

How should the Royals be approaching this trade deadline?

Hokius: They should be looking to deal anyone who isn’t under contract for 2023 that has value and who they don’t intend to extend. This means Danny Duffy, Carlos Santana, Mike Minor, Greg Holland, Whit Merrifield, Michael A. Taylor, and Jorge Soler now that he’s suddenly capable of hitting again. I still think they’re going to extend Benintendi this off-season so I don’t mind if they don’t trade him. I believe they could compete in 2022 but only Santana moves the needle for me next year and he might be their best trade piece.

David Lesky: This deadline should be approached with nothing but 2023 to about 2027 in mind. I still believe this team is closer to contending than a lot do, but also not as close as the organization seems to believe. With that in mind, anything they do should at the very least not impede 2023 and beyond and generally should support that version of the organization.

And that means that they can find themselves as buyers if they have the right deal in place (though generally I think they’d be overpaying for something that will still be available in the off-season). If a legitimate top-of-the-rotation arm is available who is under team control for a few years, sure, go get him. But also if they can get something good for guys like Carlos Santana, Mike Minor, and any of the pending free agents, yeah, they should do that too.

There are two players who are getting a lot of attention. I’ll get to Whit Merrifield in the next answer, but also it’s important to remember that his value to other teams is that they’d have him for this stretch drive but also for the next year or two beyond that. I don’t personally think Merrifield is a difference-maker in a pennant race, so I don’t think his value decreases that much if they wait to move him.

The other name is Scott Barlow, and he’s a tougher point of debate. He’s under team control through 2024 and he’s a good reliever. I don’t think there’s a wrong answer to the question of if they should trade him or keep him, but with the stated goal of at least not hurting the future Royals teams, they have an obligation, I believe, to move him if they get an offer that can support the future, hopefully better, version of the Royals.

Matthew LaMar: The Royals should be sellers; more specifically, the Royals should be hard sellers. Danny Duffy, Whit Merrifield, Carlos Santana, Mike Minor, and Michael A. Taylor should all be wearing different uniforms come August. The ideal Royals scenario involves punting on 2022 and going hard for 2023.

Max Rieper: Certainly short-term players like Soler and Holland should be dealt if there is any market for them. I don’t know that the Royals are as far away as perhaps their record suggests, so I can see a case for keeping a guy like Whit Merrifield if you don’t get the deal you want. But the name I haven’t heard much discussion about that should be shopped in the hopes of getting a good package is Scott Barlow. He’s having a terrific season that frankly, will be difficult to replicate because we know the shelf life of relievers is pretty short. I don’t think the Royals will deal him because they will feel they need him, but they have enough intriguing young arms in their system that I think it really makes sense to trade Barlow if you can get some highly-ranked prospects for him.

Shaun Newkirk: They should be sellers, no doubt. This is a team that has two 100-game loss seasons and a 90+ loss equivalent season in the past three years. Even with the winning streak, they are on pace for 91 losses and they are exceeding their BaseRuns and Pythag record by two games. They should be selling every short-term piece they can (Soler, Holland, Michael A. Taylor, Duffy if even possible by then). They should be listening heavy on any offers for everyone else (Merrifield, Minor, Benintendi, Santana, etc...).

If the Royals are entertaining offers for Whit Merrifield, what should they be targeting as a return?

Shaun Newkirk: Max and I talked about this on Twitter on Monday. Merrifield’s value exceeds his own perception. What he should get and what he will get will be disconnected. He should get a back-end top 100 prospect type, with flyer attached as a kicker. What he will get will be more of a guy in the 5-10 range of an average or so farm system’s depth.

Hokius: The Royals need to rethink the kind of guys they’ve been targeting. In the recent past they’ve taken a lot of nearly-ready major league players with upside but only an outside chance of approaching that upside. They need to either add others to Merrifield to make a big trade to get one legitimate nearly-ready prospect - probably for centerfield - or they need to target higher-upside guys who are further from the big leagues but more likely to actually help the team.

David Lesky: In trading Merrifield, the Royals missed the boat. What they want today is what they maybe could have gotten back after 2018 or 2019 when he was coming off a really good season. He’s settled in as more of an average bat who is versatile and is good on the bases, but, like I said above, isn’t really a difference-maker. The Adam Frazier trade to the Padres is probably at least a good starting point of what they should expect the return to be. A prospect in the back half of a team’s top 10 and then two others who might have some upside, but aren’t quite as highly rated.

I could see an argument that he could command a bit more in a deal than that, but I would have a hard time thinking the Royals are getting anyone in any organization’s top five prospects. They might do well with a post-hype or borderline post-hype player like a Taylor Trammell, who I’m not really enamored with, but the talent is obviously there. My guess is the deal they’re offered doesn’t match what they think should be getting and he stays.

Max Rieper: I was on the Lookout Landing podcast this week, and there is wide gulf in what they perceive Merrifield’s value to be compared to how Royals fans see his value. I have actually been a Trammell fan for awhile now, and I think he could slot into centerfield quite nicely, so I’m okay with him as a centerpiece, but I think the secondary piece should be a pretty good piece as well - something like a Brandon Williamson, or Isaiah Campbell, a pitcher I really liked at Arkansas - with probably two “lottery tickets” to boot. I don’t think that’s enough to “overwhelm” Dayton Moore, but if you were more motivated to move Whit, I think that would be a fair-ish deal.

Matthew LaMar: You can get quantity in any trade. You can’t get quality in any trade, though. That’s what the Royals should be looking for in a trade for Merrifield, who is a premium trade piece. Even if it’s just one guy, that one guy needs to be a top 100 prospect. I’d imagine the Royals aren’t getting the trade offers they’re looking for because they are instead focusing on MLB-ready talent, which is a mistake, and one that they have consistently made again and again for about a decade and a half.

Who is the most likely player or players to be traded?

Hokius: Taylor seems to have the combination of most value to a contender and easiest for the Royals to part with.

Matthew LaMar: Michael A. Taylor. He won’t get the biggest return, but he’s an expiring contract and Dayton Moore just loves trading players with expiring contracts at the deadline. There’s a decent chance that they trade either Mike Minor or Carlos Santana, but I’d wager against all three being sent.

David Lesky: Any pending free agent seems likely to go. Jorge Soler’s home run barrage makes him an actual trade candidate for a team that believes they can get 15 homers in the last two months from someone. Danny Duffy could still go, but we just don’t know when he’ll pitch again. If there’s legitimate and warranted optimism that he’ll pitch again this year, I think he’ll be gone. And I still think Michael A. Taylor fits on a few teams who need a good defender in center field to be a fourth outfielder.

Shaun Newkirk: I think Minor will have the most interest and the most willingness for the team to trade. I wish Merrifield was my answer here, but I’m not confident he will be traded, though I guess I could see it.

Max Rieper: A few contenders need a first baseman (Red Sox, Yankees, Brewers) and with Nick Pratto nearly ready, I can see them moving Carlos Santana. Duffy seems to have the most legit smoke, even despite his injury. Teams will do thorough checks on his medicals, but if they’re convinced he can contribute by October I think he could get moved to one of the California teams.

What do you predict the Royals will do at the deadline?

Matthew LaMar: I wrote that the Royals need to be more transactional, as Moore has discussed in the past, but I very much doubt they will. We’ll see a token trade or two, but the Royals believe they’re close to competing (which is its own discussion, but it’s what they believe and therefore it is relevant). Any midseason fireworks would be a first, as they have traditionally made their big trades in the offseason outside of 2015.

Hokius: I predict the Royals will make a small trade or two but refuse to participate in any blockbusters. Merrifield isn’t going anywhere unless someone gets desperate enough to drastically overpay.

Shaun Newkirk: They always seem to have at least one trade, even if it is a minor one (hoping for a Mike MINOR one!). I don’t know, I’m not optimistic that enough pieces will be traded, particularly those that will be gone anyways in T-minus 3 months.

David Lesky: I predict it’s pretty quiet. I think Whit stays. I think Barlow stays, but I’m less confident on that. Cam Gallagher is a name to watch to help the Royals get MJ Melendez up to AAA maybe. But I do think Taylor goes and maybe even Jarrod Dyson along with Soler. The odds are that anyone the Royals get back will be someone we don’t mention more than three or four times ever again. I really believe they need to be more active than they will be and hope I’m pleasantly surprised when 3 p.m. on Friday rolls around.

Max Rieper: Dayton Moore doesn’t make a lot of trades, but the deadline is actually one of his more active periods. Still, I don’t see a lot of matchups that make sense for the Royals. Would a team actually be interested in Jorge Soler, Mike Minor, or Greg Holland after the four months they’ve had? I expect Dayton Moore to work the phones a lot, but I’m expecting a pretty quiet trade deadline for the Royals.


Will the Royals make a trade this week?

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