Vahe Gregorian writes about what prompted the Royals spending this month, and how they considered a proposed swap for Marlins pitcher Jesus Luzardo.
It was a deal the Marlins repeatedly insisted they’d only make in exchange for 26-year-old Vinnie Pasquantino — widely seen as a core part of the Royals’ immediate future. The potential trade, first reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and confirmed to The Star, never exactly was imminent. But it was established that it would take nothing less than Pasquantino if the Royals determined that was their best path to the essential further upgrade of starting pitching to go with the earlier signing of Seth Lugo.
“The options were simple. We could continue to explore a trade opportunity and maybe create a hole — plug a hole, but create a hole,” said Picollo, now into his second year as the team’s executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager. “Or we could extend (financially) a little bit and stay in the fight for some of what we thought were the top free-agent arms out there.”
So he turned to owner John Sherman, who told Picollo if he and his staff felt the better approach was spending more on the free-agent pitching they had his support.
David Lesky at Inside the Crown also considered the rumored trade offer.
But Luzardo has rare skills too. Int he last two years, he’s made 50 starts with a 3.52 ERA and 328 strikeouts to 90 walks over 279 innings. I don’t know if those are ace numbers, but they’re certainly top-half-of-the-rotation numbers. He doesn’t give up hits. He doesn’t give up home runs. He’s excellent. And he’s under team control through 2026. That’s a heck of a pitcher and if you want to look at it a different way, the Royals could have reportedly had that for a first baseman/designated hitter on a team that has at least three other designated hitters and could turn around and sign Carlos Santana if they really wanted to.
But even thinking it through, I agree with the Royals not making that deal. I would absolutely love to have Luzardo in that rotation, but I wonder a bit how exactly they’re scoring runs without Pasquantino in the middle being one of the few hitters who can work an honest-to-goodness walk in this lineup. I don’t think there’s a wrong answer here, but I’d take five years of Pasquantino and a short deal for Wacha over three years of Luzardo and having to find another Pasquatch.
Trey Donovan at Farm to Fountains writes that about how MJ Melendez fits into the team.
If the Royals keep Melendez in town, they’re banking on his second half of last season. He blended his on-base prowess with power. Melendez has a career isolated power (ISO) mark of .170 and a walk rate of around 11%. Another thing Melendez does very well is getting hard hits. He ranked in the 91st percentile for hard-hit rate last season, according to Baseball Savant. He finished in the 96th percentile for average exit velocity. Banking on these numbers hasn’t worked for the Royals before (Ryan O’Hearn), but the on-base ability of Melendez gives him some leeway.
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