I started with the NL East last week, and now I am moving on to the AL West where the most interesting trade partner is a more high-risk, high-reward strategy. Here is what I am doing again, in case you missed the first one:
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.
In the west, the Mariners are a team I would be talking with first as a GM. They have a handful of interesting players, they finally made the playoffs and are going for it now, and of course, making trades is Jerry Dipoto’s favorite thing to do. There are two players in particular I would be asking my talent evaluation people to look at because they are bounce-back candidates...maybe. The first is Marco Gonzalez coming off his worst year where he pitched more than 40 innings. In 2018, 19, 20, and 21 he was a very reliable starter posting a 4.00 ERA or better, but in 2021 the peripherals said it was a bit of a mirage and 2022 has kind of backed that up. He is only 30 and his velocity has not dropped off, if the pitching evaluation team (assuming a pitching coach gets hired soon) think he looks fixable it might be a good way to shore up the rotation without breaking the bank.
The second player is Jarred Kelenic, once a big-time prospect, now coming off of two disappointing seasons in his first two tries at the big league level. It seems weird that a 22-year-old would already be in this position, but I would at least see what the asking price would be for a young guy with that much pedigree. He hit 14 home runs in 2021 even while struggling mightily, and crushed AAA again when he went down last season. There is still a lot to like and the Royals could use a solid corner outfield bat.
Beyond those two I also think Tom Murphy would be an interesting Mariner depending on how the Royals are going to play backup catcher next year. There is also a crazy scenario where JP Crawford becomes available if they sign one of the big shortstop free agents as there has been some speculation they might do, though Dipoto has thrown some cold water on that theory. Any way you slice it, there are some interesting things that could be done with the wheeling and dealing Mariners.
Houston has two pitchers that I would consider talking to them about - Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy. The Astros pitching staff includes Framber Valdez and Christian Javier, and I assume they will sign at least one more good starting pitcher, most likely bringing back Verlander. That makes these two the back of their rotation, but it also depends on what they think of Hunter Brown in the near and long-term. Luis Garcia would be a bit hard to get just because of the years of team control left and his solid performance, so I think Urquidy is more likely, though he has three years left until free agency too. Urquidy has been good, not great the last two seasons, and his lack of strikeouts makes him the easiest pitcher to see Houston giving up of a stacked starting rotation.
The Angels have a bevy of young arms that would all be great for the Royals rotation, but they will also be depending on them. Their recent moves make it seem like the Angels are really pushing to contend this year before Ohtani hits free agency. Since they already traded the cheaper option, Jason Junk, in the Hunter Renfroe deal, it means you would have to see what the price would be on Reid Detmers, Jose Suarez, and Chase Silseth who are their 4th, 5th, and 6th starters. Silseth is unproven, but has potential. The other two put up solid numbers last year and have a lot of team control, so all three would require giving up something significant in the deal.
Oakland has a second back up catcher option if the Royals want to bring one in. Shea Langeliers is someone they could afford to give up with Sean Murphy already entrenched in the starting role. They are far from contention and might want to deal from strength. Langeliers is backup material with the potential for more, which I love as a hedge for Salvy as he ages out of the position and spends more time at DH.
There you have it. My ideas for the AL West. A lot of these depend on risk tolerance and asking price, as with all trades, but these are the ones I think would be the easiest to get done while having a significant impact.