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MLB trade rumors: Royals will look for pitching upgrades at deadline

Kansas City will buy, not sell, as we approach July 31.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals will be trade deadline buyers and are looking for pitching upgrades both in the rotation and bullpen, per FanRag’s Jon Heyman. Kansas City looked like a likely deadline seller before a recent surge pushed their record to 44-40 approaching the All-Star break.

Kansas City currently has both Nate Karns and Matt Strahm on the disabled list, forcing Travis Wood into the rotation mix behind Ian Kennedy, Danny Duffy, Jason Vargas and Jason Hammel. Wood and Strahm would both likely be bullpen pieces if Karns was healthy, though the losses of them from the relief group have diminished Kansas City’s depth.

The Royals have plenty of pending free agents in Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar and Vargas, making them seem like an ideal selling candidate throughout the first third of the season. Cain and Hosmer were likely to draw strong interest, though the team’s 22-10 record since the beginning of June have thrust the Royals into the thick of the playoff race in the American League, making those deals unlikely.

The Royals will deal with two significant constraints as they approach the 31st: the club has limited payroll to work with and a very weak farm system to offer in trades. These factors will likely eliminate them from the running for top-end options like Sonny Gray, Jose Quintana or Brad Hand, limiting them to rentals like Jaime Garcia, Derek Holland, Pat Neshek and Joaquin Benoit.