After a 99-day transaction freeze, we finally have some baseball trades to talk about. The Royals haven’t been involved yet, but they may have some moves to make before the season opener on April 7 against Cleveland.
One possible move may be a trade of Adalberto Mondesi. The enigmatic shortstop has lost his starting job to Nicky Lopez after missing most of last season with two separate oblique injuries and a hamstring injury. Those injuries were just part of a long history of stints on the Injured List for the 26-year old. Even when he is healthy, he disappears for weeks at a time only to hit like an MVP candidate for short spurts.
With Lopez, Whit Merrifield, and Bobby Witt Jr. likely to get most of the infield playing time, Mondesi may be the odd man out. The Royals have talked about moving him to a utility role But at this point it may be better to move on from him in a trade for some younger talent. The Royals would be selling low on him, but if he continues to stay injured or regress, and with free agency just two seasons away for him, there may never be another time where he has higher trade value.
If the Royals do decide to entertain some trade offers, what teams could be looking to take a gamble on a player like Mondesi?
The Orioles are still in a rebuild mode, but they should be trying to acquire gambles like Mondesi in the hopes that they figure it out in Baltimore. Ramón Urías actually played pretty well at short for them last year, but he could easily slide to second and make room for Mondesi. The problem is that Baltimore won’t be very willing to part with prospects, and there aren’t a lot of big league pieces that make sense in an exchange. John Means and Cedric Mullins likely won’t be on the table for a player like Mondesi unless other pieces were involved, but maybe the Royals would have interest in outfielder Anthony Santander or reliever Cole Sulser.
The Reds have tried to get by at shortstop with guys out of position (Eugenio Suarez, Kyle Farmer) or light-hitting stop gaps (Freddy Galvis). They seem to be in austerity mode, trading away all their good expensive players, so perhaps Mondesi with his expected salary of around $3 million would be a way for them to upgrade the position without breaking the bank. They do have a top shortstop prospect in Jose Barrero, but Mondesi could serve as a good bridge until he’s ready, with an ability to fill in at other positions. The Royals could swap him for another gamble - power-hitting outfielder Aristides Aquino, or perhaps try to incorporate Mondesi in a bigger deal for a pitcher like Tyler Mahle or Luis Castillo.
Los Angeles Angels
Shortstop is a pretty vacant position for the Angels with Tyler Wade, Luis Rengifo, and Andrew Velasquez the candidates to start right now. The Angels are in win-now mode, but have such a weird lopsided roster with big stars like Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and Noah Syndergaard, but precious little depth. They could be going after one of the big shortstop free agent stars, but if they’re looking for a lower cost option to spend in other areas, Mondesi could be a good fit. Baseball America ranked the Angels farm system as the second-worst in baseball, so there may not be enough prospects to get the Royals interested.
New York Yankees
Yes, the Yankees just traded for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, but he has a career 81 OPS+ and may be more suited for a utility role where he can play around the infield and even catch on occasion. Newly acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson is 36-years old and has missed 60 games over the last two seasons. And Gleyber Torres may impove his defense shifting from short to second, but his metrics at second haven’t been great either. So Mondesi may fit in as a semi-regular, capable of playing all over the infield. If the Royals could snag a few prospects from a pretty good system, it could be a win.
The Athletics are trading away their expensive player suggesting they will be rebuilding, but Billy Beane doesn’t seem to rebuild so much as reload. Mondesi could be the kind of gamble they are looking for to buy low and sell high with. The A’s had the third-lowest OPS from their shortstops last year, and while they still have Elvis Andrus at the position, he is now 33 years old and has been dreadful the last two seasons. Oakland has a surplus of pitching, perhaps the Royals could target A.J. Puk to join his former Florida Gators teammate Brady Singer, or maybe Mondesi can be part of a larger package to land Sean Manaea.
With Trea Turner gone, the starting shortstop for the Nationals is projected to be old friend Alcides Escobar, so perhaps they could be interested in another Royals shortstop? In the SB Nation Off-season Simulation, fake Royals general manager Matthew LaMar made an interesting swap with the Nats, sending Mondesi to Washington for centerfielder Victor Robles. Like Mondesi, Robles was a top prospect who showed flashes of brilliance - he finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2019 with a 4.4 rWAR season. But like Mondesi he has been disappointing as well, hitting .209/.304/.302 in 159 games since then. Robles is a plus defender who would fit in centerfield in Kauffman Stadium well, but his bat could be a liability as he had one of the lowest hard-hit rates in baseball last year.
Will Adalberto Mondesi be in the Royals organization on Opening Day?
This poll is closed