Many consider the week leading up to the MLB trade deadline to be the most exciting week of the regular season. For the Kansas City Royals, it has been not only much anticipated but fiercely debated among fans. With five key pieces becoming free agents at the end of the season that could easily bring more than 10 or more prospects in return, there is a strong argument to hold the fire sale. However, with six of the eight position players still remaining from World Series team just two seasons ago, there is the argument for one more championship run. On Monday, Dayton Moore settled a lot of arguments.
Kansas City Royals Trade Not Splashy But Significant
Is Dayton Moore All In?
Maybe not. At least not yet, but he is playing his hand aggressively. Moore made a move to solve the Royals two biggest problems: starting pitching and bullpen depth. Late Monday afternoon a deal was finalized to send Travis Wood, Matt Strahm, Esteury Ruiz and some cash to San Diego for Trevor Cahill, Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter. It’s not a Johnny Cueto caliber move like we saw two years ago which helped propel them to a championship but it addressed the big problems.
What Did the Royals Gain?
Trevor Cahill – A big, right-handed 29-year-old veteran with a respectable 3.69 ERA and a nasty curve ball. This is clearly the centerpiece of the trade for the Royals. With Nate Karns recently being placed on the DL for the remainder of the season, the Royals were in desperate need of a fourth or fifth starter to stop the bleeding. Cahill’s numbers in 2017 have been solid but with only 10 appearances and 61 innings, it’s not a huge sample. Coming off of an injury, the Royals are optimistic that he can stay healthy for the remainder of the regular season. If the Royals make the playoffs, he will likely move to the bullpen.
Ryan Buchter – A 30-year-old left-handed reliever with a 3.05 ERA and 47 Ks in 38.1 innings pitched in his second season as a big leaguer. Through a season and a half, he has a career ERA of 2.90 and a WHIP of 1.09. While the Royals bullpen has been good over the last month, each individual piece has struggled at times throughout the season. Butcher, who was the closer in San Diego, could move into the seventh inning roll and let Peter Moylan, a ground ball specialist, become the mid-inning, double play guy. The Royals will have full control of Butcher for the 2018 season with arbitration in each of the following three seasons.
Brandon Maurer – A 27-year-old right-handed reliever who has struggled through four and a half seasons, posting an ERA under 4.00 just once in 2015. He will likely be moved to Triple-A Omaha until the September call ups. He is up for arbitration in each of the next two seasons.
What Did the Royals Give Up?
Matt Strahm – A young, promising lefty who has been compared to Chris Sale. Strahm was called up last year when Wade Davis went on the 15-day DL. He showed remarkable poise for a 23-year-old kid making his first appearance as a big leaguer posting a 1.23 ERA through 22 innings pitched with 30 strikeouts. He struggled in big situations at the start of 2017 but settled down and became reliable until he was injured. Strahm has a big upside. The Padres will have total control over Strahm for the next two seasons with arbitration in each of the three following seasons.
Travis Wood – A 30-year-old veteran who hasn’t found his groove in 2017. Wood has been disappointing this season for the Royals posting a 6.91 ERA with 4.3 walks per 9 innings pitched. The Padres are getting a seasoned veteran with a World Series ring. His presence and leadership will be assets to a young Padre roster. The Padres will control him through the 2018 season.
Esteury Ruiz – An 18-year-old Dominican second baseman. Through half of the 2017 season in Arizona League A-ball, he has a .419 BA but he is probably four to five years away from making a big league roster.
What is the Net Gain?
The Royals and their fans are sorry to see Strahm go but they needed to give up something if they wanted to make a run at the postseason. Wood has been a disappointment. There is not a way to sugar coat that. The Royals were in dire need of a fifth starter if they wanted to make a run at the division or a Wild Card spot. Check. They also needed depth in the bullpen. Check. While the move was not splashy, it filled the immediate needs without making devastating sacrifices. It’s the kind of “value move” that we have come to expect from Dayton Moore.
He pushed a big stack of chips into the middle of the table. It’s not an all-in but it’s a statement that says he’s ready to push given the opportunity.