Royals Rundown: Trade options for Kansas City limited as deadline approaches
A disastrous month of June appears to have doomed the Kansas City Royals’ season, one that at times appeared promising.
With that reality in mind, and with the All-Star Break now in the rear view mirror, the team is once again forced to consider trading members of the current big league team to try to make the future a little brighter. The trade deadline this season falls on July 30.
But unlike years past, the Royals didn’t stock their roster with "flippable" players on one-year contracts who were obviously not a part of the club’s long-term plan. Instead, the team added Mike Minor, Andrew Benintendi and Carlos Santana with two-year commitments to the team.
The message was clear that the team intended to compete this year and next. It’s not likely the Royals would consider trading either Benintendi or Santana this season.
The Royals might be more open to trading Minor with a year left on his contract. But his value on the market probably isn’t great at this point. And with the unreliability of the Royals’ starting pitchers, they might be hesitant to trade a relatively dependable one.
The two players on one-year contracts — and the positions players most likely to get traded — are outfielders Michael A. Taylor and Jarrod Dyson.
Taylor wasn’t necessarily signed as a "flippable" player. The Royals needed someone to hold down centerfield, and Taylor has done an admirable job. He will be a free agent after this season, but the Royals may like him enough to offer him a deal for future seasons.
But then again, Taylor is 30 years old, and the Royals may feel they can trade him for some longer-term value.
Dyson’s value is in his ability to pinch run and play late-inning defense. He has considerable playoff experience and could play an important role for a contender down the stretch.
Dyson is now 36 years old and understands the reality of the baseball business. The Royals traded him in 2017, and he was traded by the Pittsburg Pirates mid-season last year. The Royals will almost certainly deal the speedy veteran soon.
The player that might make the most sense to trade, and who might bring the most in return, just became more difficult to deal. Danny Duffy recently reached a milestone — 10 years in the major leagues, and five years with the same team — that allows the player to approve or reject a trade.
Duffy hasn’t always been the pitcher the Royals hoped he would, but he holds some trade value. He’s a veteran with playoff experience. He is a proven starter who also has been extremely effective coming out of the bullpen. By all accounts he is a great teammate.
Unfortunately, his trade value is diminished by the fact he missed more than a month already this season to injury.
Considering the situation, the Royals are compelled to look for trade partners for Duffy. His contract is up after this season.
But trading Duffy doesn’t necessarily mean he wouldn’t resign with Kansas City. He has professed his desire to spend his entire career with the Royals. Should he be traded away for a few months, he might very well resign with the Royals after the season concludes.
The Royals would certainly be willing to trade reliever Greg Holland, whose contract runs out at the of the season. With the demand for reliable veteran relievers come playoff time, Holland may hold some value. The 35-year-old has had a pretty solid season and might fetch something at the deadline.
Soler Power Outage
Jorge Soler has been in a full eclipse all season, and his struggles have crippled the Kansas City offense.
The Royals were counting on big things from the 29-year-old slugger, and with good reason. Just two seasons ago, he led the American League in home runs (the first Royal ever to do so) with a franchise-record 48.
Soler entered the recent All-Star Break with some numbers that don’t seem possible — seven home runs and a painful .184 average. In his record-setting 2019 season, Soler hit a home run every 12.2 times to the plate. This year, he has hit one every 38.4 times at bat. How a man in his physical prime could sink this quickly is baffling.
As Soler’s struggles creep deeper into the recesses of his mind, he’s getting worse.
Manager Mike Matheny has tried a variety of things to shake Soler from his doldrums, including batting him second in the order, giving him extra days off, and encouraging him to change his approach. So far nothing has worked, and Matheny sounded recently like he might be losing patience with the situation. He admitted that there are other players who deserve to receive some of Soler’s playing time.
“It’s complicated,” Matheny said. “Part of it comes down to that we’ve got other guys who are out here competing. We’ve got to find room for them to keep doing what they’re doing. We continue to give Jorge those opportunities, hoping he makes the most of it. We just keep hoping each day that Jorge takes that step forward.”
The Royals are nearing decision-time with Soler. His contract runs out at the end of the season. Although Soler has done nothing in 2021, it’s at least remotely possible some team might trade for him as a power bat for the stretch run.
If they can’t trade him, the Royals will face the excruciating decision of whether or not to sign him to a new contract. On the one hand, he’s given them no reason to think he will return to his old form. But on the other hand, Soler’s salary expectations have plummeted. The Royals might be tempted to bring him back if the price is low enough.
Soler has put the Royals in an awful position this summer, and there don’t seem to be many good options.