The Royals finally made their second major league trade of the season, sending Andrew Benintendi to the Yankees. It’s impossible to say if it was a good trade or a bad trade until such time as the pitchers the Royals acquired make it - or decidedly don’t make it - to the big leagues. Regardless, a deal had to be done. The baseball draft is such a crapshoot after the first round, and even during the first round, that three prospects seems automatically better than the relatively high pick they could have gotten if they’d kept him and extended a qualifying offer. That much is obvious.
What is also obvious is this, if the Royals want to compete in the near future for a post-season spot, they’re eventually going to have to tangle with the Yankees. Much ink, both literal and digital, has been spilled about the fact that the Yankees can and do outspend the Royals on a regular basis. For the Royals to expect to beat the Yankees with any consistency, they’re either going to have to start spending like the Yankees or they’re going to have to draft and develop better.
Except it turns out that even spending like the Yankees might not be enough.
The MLB Pipeline rankings of the three pitchers caught my attention when it was announced where they’d fit into the Royals system. The three Yankees minor leaguers were ranked 19th, 21st, and unranked in the Yankees system. In the Royals’ system, they’re 12th, 21st and 30th. And the Royals system still has Vinnie Pasquantino and Nick Pratto as its headliners. Angel Zerpa is 11th and Maikel Garcia is 19th. These guys are all on the big league roster - though Zerpa is also on the IL. None of the Yankees top-30 are on their MLB team, yet.
tl;dr the return for Benintendi all look much better compared to their peers in the Royals’ system than they did in the Yankees system.
This is a problem if you’re a Royals fan. The Yankees have more money than your team, they are currently dominating a competitive division while your team is trying to avoid 100 losses, and they still have better prospects than your team does. Your team is not going to compete if they don’t change something.
Many are concerned with recent word coming out of the Royals’ front office that the Royals will not be doing any more trades before the deadline in a mere three days’ time. However, I maintain that that would be career suicide. Owner John Sherman said earlier this year that the team cannot maintain the status quo. What could possibly be more status quo than refusing to improve a farm system which clearly needs it by trading away pieces that cannot help you.
If the Royals don’t make any more trades, Sherman would be well-advised to not wait for the end of the year to starting rolling heads out of that front office. After drawing a line in the sand like that, it would be the next best thing to insubordination for the front office to fail to rise to the challenge by making many more trades to shake things up.
If the front office maintains the status quo and John Sherman allows it, we will be able to deduce that his words have no meaning, whether because he’s lying or because he’s powerless. I can’t imagine that’s the message the team’s majority owner wants to send in only his third year. Look forward to a big shakeup in the near future, whether on the field or off.