In a piece he wrote on FanRag Sports, Jon Heyman confirmed what we already knew. The Kansas City Royals will partake in a fire sale come July, if not sooner.
A Royals sale would mean players such as Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Lucas Duda, Mike Moustakas, and even stud reliever Kelvin Herrera could be available to the highest bidder.
Fortunately for Kansas City, they have tradable assets, despite their bad record. Younger, controllable pieces like Whit Merrifield, Jake Junis, and Jorge Soler may not be dealt, but the veteran core is valuable enough to warrant a major discussion in 30 major league front offices.
After taking forever to resign with the Royals this season, Moustakas has started really strong in his “prove it” one-year deal. While his slugging is a tiny bit down, Moustakas looks to be a tiny bit improved from last year and could warrant all-star discussion.
Moustakas has cut his walk rate down about 2% this season and has already been worth 1.2 fWAR. He’s established himself as a really solid third baseman, and a starting caliber one for a competitor.
Unluckily for the Royals, most competitive teams are set at the third base position. With the exception of the Atlanta Braves, Moustakas wouldn’t be an upgrade over any third basemen for a team winning its division. This is the reason why I predict he ends up in Atlanta. Sure, they say they are committed to developing Johan Camargo, but if it comes down to a pennant race, I’d predict they choose Moustakas over a guy who they benched for Jose Bautista a couple weeks ago.
Kansas City lost so much by not dealing Duffy this offseason, as he has fallen apart to start the 2018 season.
While he wasn’t as good as his ERA stated last year, he was miles better than he has been this year. Duffy’s gotten a bit unlucky to have an ERA over six, but metrics point to the fact his ERA should be at least five. Duffy has also come down with a bad case of “John Lackey disease,” as over 15% of the fly balls he gives up sail over the wall.
It’s likely that a team in a pitcher-friendly ballpark goes after Duffy, hoping his struggles get suppressed in such a stadium. Thus, like Moustakas, I think Atlanta makes sense. SunTrust Park does act as a launching pad to right field, but it has given up the fifth-fewest home runs of any stadium overall.
Kennedy has done the opposite of Duffy, as he has gotten significantly better so far this season. His ERA may not reflect it, but advanced metrics show he is considerably better this year than last.
Kennedy has a lot of money left on his contract, and while his pitching has been better, I still struggle to believe it is worth the contract he is locked up with. Thus, I think Kansas City is going to find it difficult to trade him unless they eat a considerable amount of money.
If any team were to deal for Kennedy, it would likely be a team like the Dodgers, who have a ton of money and a pitching need. However, if I had to bet, no one deals for Kennedy because the Royals won’t eat a ton of money. It doesn’t seem like the kind of move for the Royals ownership group to make.
When you look at the word “meh” in the dictionary, 2018 Lucas Duda comes up. He hasn’t necessarily been bad this year, he’s just been, well, there.
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Duda has more or less stopped walking, with a BB% hovering right around six percent. With only four home runs, that seems problematic. However, he is getting on base at a respectable .317 clip, with a wRC+ near league average.
He isn’t going to light the world on fire, but he is a very low-risk, high-potential acquisition for a team looking to make it in the playoffs. This could become more apparent as we get closer to the deadline, but Duda seems like an injury replacement for a team that loses either its DH or its first baseman.
Given how this season has gone for them so far, the Cardinals are a good guess. But it’s more a shot in the dark than anything.
Here’s the big fish in the pond. Herrera has been nothing short of incredible this season, and it’s been like that for a couple years now. Herrera is establishing himself as one of the game’s elite relievers.
There isn’t a team in the playoff field that doesn’t need Kelvin Herrera. He’s going to either be an elite 8th inning guy, or a very solid closer.
To get Herrera, who is scheduled to be a free agent after the year is over, it’ll take quite a bit. It won’t be anywhere near the package the Yankees got for Aroldis Chapman a few years back, but only those teams who truly believe they are the best in the league are going to be in on him.
The Astros seem to be the most logical destination for Herrera, as they have a major need in their bullpen and have as good of a shot as anyone to win it all this year. However, I wouldn’t rule out the Cubs or Red Sox, should they decide to pay up. Cleveland also makes a bit of sense, though it would likely cost more since they are in the same division.