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The Royals have relievers to trade, who could be a suitor?

What could the Royals get in return?

Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The adage in baseball is that the pennant season doesn’t really begin until Memorial Day weekend. With that holiday behind us, teams will begin their post-season push in earnest and as of right now, every team in baseball is within seven games of a playoff spot except the Royals and Athletics.

With the Royals already far back in the standings, they should focus on what they might do before the August 1 trade deadline. The most likely player to be traded is reliever Aroldis Chapman, who has resurrected his value with a 3.10 ERA and a 100 mph fastball that has generated 33 strikeouts in 20 13 innings. The Royals could also look to move Scott Barlow, who is not an impending free agent like Chapman, but could be more valuable since he is under club control through next year. It is not inconceivable they could also move hard-throwing reliever Josh Staumont for the right price.

What teams around baseball might be interested in all of these relievers? The truth is, any potential contender could be interested in adding bullpen depth. But these are the team most in need of focusing on adding a reliever or two this summer.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks have been surprisingly good thanks to some good young hitters and solid starting pitching. Their bullpen has been decent, but features a lot of unproven arms. Andrew Chafin is closing out games, so they could probably use a more proven pitcher to end games for them.

Players to target: Outfielder Jorge Barrosa is stuck behind a number of talented young outfielder with the Diamondbacks. The 22-year-old switch-hitting centerfielder has a patient eye and is hitting .261/.380/.470 with six home runs in 40 games in Triple-A. He won’t hit for much power - he stands at just 5’9’’ - but he is considered a good defender in center with the ability to swipe some bases. Pitcher Slade Cecconi has an awful ERA in Triple-A with a ton of home runs, but he’s pitching at Reno. He could be a good “buy low” option with the ability to throw in the high-90s, just not consistently.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves are looking to make a big push to get back to the World Series with their core, and while their bullpen has been among the best in baseball, they have had some trouble closing out games. Raisel Iglesias has had shoulder issues and has been inconsistent, A.J. Minter has been bad, and Nick Anderson is an injury risk.

Players to target: Dylan Dodd is a former Southeast Missouri State pitcher who was a cheap college senior sign that has exceeded expectations as a pro. He’s a lefty with a deep arsenal and good walk rates in the minors, and the 24-year-old has made four starts with the Braves this year. Cedric de Grandpre doesn’t appear on any prospect lists, but he has an eye-popping strikeout-to-walk ratio of 44-to-7 in 38 innings at A ball this year.

Milwaukee Brewers

Closer Devin Williams has been darn near unhittable, but the Brewers could use a little depth in getting the ball to him. Hoby Milner is the only lefty in the pen, and he hasn’t been that effective in shutting down lefty bats.

Players to target: Carlos Rodriguez is a 21-year old Nicaraguan right-hander with a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a plus change who was the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2022. He has a 2.82 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings as a starter in Double-A this year, although there are some doubts as to whether he can start at the big league level. Tyler Black is a Canadian God of Walks, hitting .235/.421/.441 in Double-A this year while showing some pop and stealing 24 bases. He can play second base, third base, or centerfield and could be an excellent table-setter.

New York Mets

The Mets were aggressive in the off-season, but have been a bit disappointing so far, playing barely better than .500 ball. They lost All-Star closer Edwin Diaz for the entire season, and while lefty Brooks Raley and righty David Robertson have been solid late in games, the rest of the pen has been erratic.

Players to target: Mike Vasil pitched at Virginia, and like former Cavalier Daniel Lynch, he had to make some tweaks upon becoming a pro. He has had some injury setbacks, but has been a strike-throwing machine this year with just six walks in 41 innings with 48 strikeouts and a 3.29 ERA in Double-A. He throws in the low-to-mid 90s with a deep arsenal and projects as a mid-rotation starter who could be big league-ready soon. Tyler Stuart is a bit old for High-A at 23, but he has a 1.15 ERA and a plus slider. He has a huge 6’9’’, 250 pound frame and was a reliever at Southern Mississippi, so there may be some potential to be unlocked.

New York Yankees

The Yankees bullpen has been pretty good, but features many unproven players with Clay Holmes closing out many of their games. They could be interested in a reunion with Aroldis Chapman, and the Royals should be familiar with their farm system, having worked out a deal with them for Andrew Benintendi last summer.

Players to target: Richard Fitts is a 23-year old right-hander with a 4.96 ERA in nine starts in Double-A this year. He has shown very good walk rates in the minors since being drafted out of Auburn and has good movement on his fastball and a sweeping slider. Estevial Florial was once a top 100 prospect that hasn’t panned out and was on waivers a few months ago. But he’s a left-handed centerfielder who is still just 25 and is hitting .322/.432/.645 with 12 home runs and 11 steals in Triple-A, although with a 31.8 percent strikeout rate.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers have spent gobs of money the last two years, but it is finally paying off with a 35-20 start. Their bullpen has been pretty good, but is very lefty-heavy and lacks depth. The Rangers should also have a lot of familiarity with the Royals with former general manager Dayton Moore serving as an advisor to Rangers GM Chris Young, who once pitched for the Royals.

Players to target: Tekoah Roby is a 21-year old already in Double-A, holding his own with a 4.96 ERA in nine starts with 50 strikeouts and 11 walks in 45 13 innings. He can throw in the mid-90s with deceptive velocity and has a solid four-pitch arsenal. Aidan Curry was a high schooler who signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020, but has opened some eyes with a 2.35 ERA and 54 strikeouts to 11 walks in 38 13 innings as a 20-year old in Low-A ball. He stands 6’5’’ with some projectability left in his frame.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays have an All-Star closer in Jordan Romano, and Erik Swanson has been good, but Yimi Garcia has been a disappointment. The Jays will probably need to play better ball to keep up in the Wild Card race and stay in contention.

Players to target: Orelvis Martinez got a $3.5 billion bonus as an amateur and was once a top 100 prospect due to his power potential, and he smacked 30 home runs last year in Double-A. But he also hit .203 and he’s back in Double-A with a line of .179/.284/.497 with 14 home runs in 41 games. His low average is a bit of a head-scratcher - he can chase, but his strikeout rates aren’t high this year. He has played some shortstop but is probably more suited for third base. Adam Kloffenstein was once a highly considered high schooler who has had some injury setbacks as a pro. He has bounced back this year as a 22-year-old right-hander in Double-A with a 3.13 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 46 innings as a sinker/slider pitcher who gets groundballs.