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Royals, Athletics swap Brandon Moss, Jesse Hahn in 4-player trade

Brandon Moss is headed back to Oakland as the Royals shed salary.

Seattle Mariners v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The Royals have traded first baseman/DH Brandon Moss, left-handed reliever Ryan Buchter, and $3.25 million in cash considerations to the Athletics for right-handed pitchers Jesse Hahn and Heath Fillmyer, as Jeffrey Flanagan of first reported on Monday.

Moss, who is entering the second season of a two-year, $12 million deal, heads back to Oakland, where he spent the three best years of his career, earning an All-Star berth in 2014 while helping the A’s to reach the playoffs in all three seasons. The 34-year-old is coming off a frustrating 2017 campaign in which he hit .207/.279/.428 with 22 homers in 401 plate appearances while serving primarily as a designated hitter for the first time in his career. The 11-year veteran was largely confined to platoon duty in the second half as he continued to be inconsistent at the plate.

The Royals will now be able to shed $5 million of the guaranteed $8.25 million remaining on his contract, money that could go towards one of their free agents who has yet to sign elsewhere. Flanagan insinuated Monday that the money could go towards Kansas City’s pursuit of Eric Hosmer, though guys like Mike Moustakas, Melky Cabrera, Jason Vargas, and Peter Moylan also still remain on the market and could fit with the Royals again. Moss, meanwhile, figures to provide depth for the A’s at DH, first base, and (perhaps most prominently) the corner outfield spots.

Kansas City also sends Buchter, a 30-year-old lefty who they acquired from the Padres in a six-player trade last July, to Oakland as part of the deal. Buchter was both durable and consistent last year in his first season spent entirely in the majors, posting a 2.89 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP while striking out 65 batters and walking 26 over 71 appearances (65.1 innings). He’s under club control through 2021 and satisfies one of Oakland’s most obvious offseason needs — another lefty to pair with Daniel Coulombe in the bullpen.

The Royals get back Hahn, a 28-year-old right-hander who hasn’t really put together a compete major-league season yet, as he frequently shuttled back and forth between Triple-A and the majors in 2014, 2016, and 2017 while dealing with a forearm injury in 2015. He’s struggled over the past two years after pitching well in his first two big-league seasons, and he posted a 5.30 ERA with a 1.51 WHIP, 55 strikeouts, and 27 walks over 69.2 innings in 2017. The Royals will hope that new pitching coach Cal Eldred can help Hahn work through whatever issues he’s been dealing with over the past two seasons, and he’ll enter a crowded competition at the back of Kansas City’s rotation while also perhaps becoming a candidate to soak up some of the bullpen innings that have been vacated by the departures of Mike Minor, Scott Alexander, Joakim Soria, and (presumably) Moylan.

Fillmyer, meanwhile, will restore some quality starting pitching depth to a farm system that was sorely lacking it after the Royals dealt several starting prospects in deadline deals over the past few seasons. The 23-year-old Fillmyer, a fifth-round pick in 2014, posted a 3.49 ERA with a 1.40 WHIP, 115 strikeouts, and 51 walks in 149.2 innings at Double-A Midland last season. He was ranked as Oakland’s No. 18 prospect by MLB Pipeline prior to the trade.

With Moss out of the picture, players like Jorge Bonifacio, Jorge Soler, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Hunter Dozier are candidates to get time at DH for Kansas City in 2018. That could also be a spot at which they look to give 27-year-old catcher Salvador Perez more rest, as his heavy workload has seemingly affected his productivity down the stretch over the past two seasons.