I began my series looking at trade targets by looking at the NL East, then AL West, and now I am moving on to the AL East.
I am following a few parameters. In general, I am looking for starting pitchers, third base or shortstop, outfield, and possibly catcher. All the targets are for building the major league team, not looking to add depth to the farm system, so they need to be in the majors or very close. Also, I am trying to be realistic about how aggressive the team should be, meaning no Sandy Alcantara or something else that would be ludicrously expensive to get done. There are other types of trades that the actual Royals should be thinking about and possibly pursuing, but I am not interested in the bullpen building or deepening the farm system in this exercise.
The Baltimore Orioles are one of the most interesting teams in baseball. Their farm system is full of top 100 prospects, mostly on the position player side. They look very strong for the next several years on the offensive side of the ball, and really just need to beef up their pitching to become another dangerous team in an already tough division. If the Royals were serious about shopping Brady Singer, which I very much doubt, this would be a great team to talk to. Who to target from them is a smorgasbord of possibilities.
If you are looking for the cheaper end of the spectrum, not their top prospects, there are some guys like Jordan Westburg or a Connor Norby. They are going to be blocked, most likely, by the higher-end prospects, especially Westburg and he is the player I would want most of the two. Their starting outfielders could all be possible to get away from them as well, but it might be another year before their prospects are ready to take over those positions. If you did offer up Singer to get into the bigger name prospects, but not the top few. Maybe a Colton Cowser could be possible at that point.
Tampa Bay is a tricky team to trade with because of the way they are constructed. Where they have depth doesn’t line up with the Royals needs, and their prospects are many, but some don’t line up (first basemen) or are not good enough/too good for Singer to be the chip used. There is a player I really like on their major league roster, Isaac Paredes, but he might be hard to pry away. He looks like a young Whit Merrifield, very versatile with a decent bat and moderate power. They might prefer to trade Manuel Margot to open up time for the younger guys though. Personally, I would not want Margot.
The Yankees have a few starters that I think would make sense. They all have some upside, but probably more questions, which keeps the asking price down. The three I would be looking at are likely back-end starters; Matt Krook, Clarke Schmidt, and Sean Boyle. In years past, I would avoid Krook because he walks way too many batters, which the Royals struggle with as a whole. With the new pitching development staff I would ask if they think they can fix him. All three are pretty old for their limited or no big league time, and the Yanks seem to be moving Schmidt to the bullpen when I still think he could be a decent fourth starter. Boyle has excellent control, and looks like the type that could break out if you got him an out pitch to push his K% a little higher as it has diminished a lot while climbing to higher parts of the minors.
Moving on to Boston, that is a team in a very weird place. After the departure of Xander Bogaerts, their position player depth chart is looking pretty shaky. They do have some starting pitching, so maybe that makes them a good partner for the Royals. I would probably target another unsexy starter like the Yankees just because of what is on offer. There is nothing worth spending a lot on. To that end, I would go for Brandon Walter. He can slot into the back of a rotation now, and might be a bit more than that if he carries the high K% from the minors over.
That’s it. My ideas for Toronto were not worth talking about, though I would see how they felt about Addison Barger after a pretty impressive year in the minors. There are definitely some opportunities in the east, but the most interesting ones are going to be a bit expensive.