Now that the non-waiver deadline has passed, we’re taking a look back at what each team was able to accomplish before 4 p.m. ET on July 31. Next up in our recap series, the Kansas City Royals.
Kansas City Royals (55-51), 2.5 GB in AL Central, 2nd in AL Wild Card
ACQUIRED: OF Melky Cabrera (from CWS), RHP Trevor Cahill (from SD), RHP Brandon Maurer (from SD), LHP Ryan Buchter (from SD)
TRADED: LHP Matt Strahm (to SD), LHP Travis Wood (to SD), INF Esteury Ruiz (to SD), RHP A.J. Puckett (to CWS), LHP Andre Davis (to CWS)
While there was a widespread expectation that the Royals would be sellers after they struggled in the first two months of the season, it was obvious once July came around that they’d at least be cautious buyers. GM Dayton Moore came through in full force, acquiring four major-league players to aid Kansas City’s playoff push as they make one more run at a championship before a large chunk of their roster hits free agency this offseason.
Moore first went out and acquired three pitchers from the Padres, adding Cahill to take over the fifth starter duties that had been vacated by the injured Nate Karns, Buchter to match up against tough lefties, and Maurer to provide Ned Yost with another intriguing relief option in the late innings.
The day before the deadline, he went out and boosted the lineup by bringing back Cabrera, who spent 2011 in Kansas City and was one of the best rental position players on the market. While the Royals already had a solid right fielder in rookie Jorge Bonifacio, who is slashing .258/.328/.444 with 14 homers this season, Cabrera also provides insurance in case DH Brandon Moss cools off or left fielder Alex Gordon starts to struggle so mightily at the plate that his defense no longer makes him playable on an everyday basis.
The Royals were surprisingly able to shed the contract of Wood—he was signed to a seemingly reasonable two-year, $12 million deal but clearly wasn’t a good fit, posting a 6.91 ERA and 1.82 WHIP over 28 appearances for Kansas City—while getting value back in return. Strahm might end up having a long career as a solid back-of-the-rotation starter or lefty reliever, but he’s out for the season with a torn patellar tendon and will be 26 years old by the time he takes the mound wearing a Padres uniform. Ruiz was a guy who had caught the eye of scouts on back fields, but he’s still just an 18-year-old in rookie ball and is a long way off from having a chance to reach the majors.
Puckett was a second-round pick last year and is pitching well in High-A ball this year, so he’s a probable future big-leaguer. Davis is a lottery ticket who realistically is probably a longshot to reach the big leagues, seeing as he’s a 23-year-old former eighth-rounder who is still in Class A. If anything, he might have a better chance to reach the majors with the White Sox than he would’ve with the Royals, as he was far down on the organizational starting pitching depth chart.
There’s really not an area that the Royals clearly should have addressed but didn't at the deadline. Because of his lack of on-base skills or power, Alcides Escobar has his haters, but the Royals obviously see his superior defense as enough of an advantage that they’ve started him at shortstop for 293 straight games including postseason contests. Kansas City was rumored to be looking for more pitching help even after acquiring the trio of Padres pitchers, but they should have enough depth to make it through the year with 13 pitchers on their big-league roster plus Kevin McCarthy and Jake Junis, both of whom have made solid contributions out of the Royals’ bullpen this year, on standby in the minors if needed.
In advance of the Royals’ two most recent playoff runs, Moore has frequently taken advantage of the waiver wire in August, acquiring Josh Willingham and Jayson Nix in the August preceding their 2014 World Series run, then trading for Jonny Gomes down the stretch in 2015. While Willingham and Nix merely played bit roles during the 2014 postseason and Gomes was left off the playoff roster entirely, they helped fill depth needs during the end of the regular season, and Moore could go after those same types of players this year. If Cahill falters as the fifth starter, perhaps Moore will look to make a waiver trade for another starter and move Cahill to the bullpen, where he thrived for the Cubs during the 2015 postseason. He could also look for experienced bench players, especially if he can find a veteran to supplant rookie utility infielder Ramon Torres.
For a complete list of our trade deadline recaps, click here.