The Kansas City Royals look poised to be sellers before the Major League Baseball trade deadline, as they’re 37-64, which warrants fourth place in the American League Central, and in rebuilding mode. They’ve already traded catcher Martin Maldonado to the Chicago Cubs for left-hander Mike Montgomery and sent outfielder Terrance Gore to the New York Yankees for cash considerations.
Here are landing spots for the aforementioned players on the trade block.
Billy Hamilton: Philadelphia Phillies
The last thing you would’ve figured the Phillies would be in the market for at the MLB trade deadline back in spring training was an outfielder. Well they could use one, and Hamilton would be the perfect transaction.
Hamilton’s Royals’ tenure hasn’t gone as planned, as he has struggled to stay on the lineup card. But he’s still an elite fielder and a speeding bullet. He can get behind any flyball hit in his general vicinity and has stolen 17 bases this season. Hamilton’s strengths bolster two aspects of the game in which the Phillies struggle. He can enter games in the final innings for defense and/or pinch run.
With Andrew McCutchen out for the season due to a torn ACL and Odubel Herrera suspended, the Phillies need depth. Outside of Bryce Harper, the Phillies have received outfield production in spurts. One way they’ve masked their outfield woes is by playing shortstop Scott Kingery in center field. Meanwhile, Nick Williams is hitting .169, and Roman Quinn is hitting .109.
Hamilton can be a versatile and decisive enhancer for the Phillies, as they make a playoff push.
Jake Diekman: Tampa Bay Rays
Manager Kevin Cash goes with a lot of bullpen days and uses his relievers to extremes. You can never have enough pitching, and Diekman would give the Rays a middle left-handed reliever.
Now, Diekman’s 4.76 ERA and 1.34 WHIP don’t jump off the page in a positive way, but he has shown an ability to record strikeouts at a high clip and be a reliable reliever in years past. He’s going through an uncharacteristic season. Meanwhile, he has pitched a lot better, as of late. Diekman has escaped 11 of his last 14 appearances without surrendering a run.
Emilio Pagan, Ryne Stanek, Oliver Drake, Jalen Beeks, Adam Kolarek, and Diego Castillo, among others, form a potent bullpen. At the same time, they’re mostly right-handed relievers. Having another lefty would balance out the Rays pen and allow them to bring in an arm to jam a power-hitting left-handed hitter.
Given how often the Rays use their relievers, it’s possible that injuries could mount down the stretch. In fact, Castillo, Chaz Roe, and Jose Alvarado have all missed time this season due to injury. Stanek was also placed on the injured list Saturday morning. Having insurance and/or an extra arm can only benefit the Rays.
Lucas Duda: St. Louis Cardinals
Yes, the Cardinals have Paul Goldschmidt, who’s pretty good and was rewarded with a $130 million contract extension in March, but Duda would still bolster the Cardinals roster.
Duda has endured a severe drop in production in recent memory, which is a result of injuries and a youth movement taking place in Kansas City. With that said, he can still serve as a steady power hitter. He’s accustomed to making baseballs souvenirs with his bat and is a serviceable defensive first baseman. The Cardinals would be acquiring Duda for his power and to be a viable backup for Goldschmidt.
The Cardinals have moved Jose Martinez around the outfield and Yairo Munoz around the infield, but their bench is thin. Sure, they could use a starting pitcher, as their rotation has been suspect this season, but acquiring a veteran bat should be on their to-do list as well.
Bigger than that, Duda would balance out their depth chart, while serving as a pitch/pinch hitter late in games.
Ian Kennedy: Atlanta Braves
The Braves, like every other team in the National League East, need bullpen help. Kennedy would give them precisely as such, but also someone who can man a versatile role on their pitching staff in October.
In his first season coming out of the bullpen on a full-time basis, Kennedy has found success as the Royals closer. In 40.1 innings pitched, he has recorded a 3.35 ERA, 49 strikeouts, and 17 saves. Yes, Luke Jackson has been better this season, Jacob Webb has been lights out, and Anthony Swarzak has been superb since coming over in a trade from the Seattle Mariners, but Kennedy would add more reliability to the Braves bullpen.
However, don’t forgot that he has served as a reliable middle-of-the-rotation starter throughout the bulk of his career. That hasn’t gone anywhere, and it could benefit the Braves. The Braves have a respectable starting staff, but outside of Dallas Keuchel and Julio Teheran, their current rotation has little to no playoff experience.
Granted he has little experience himself, Kennedy is a veteran. And if one of their young starters are in a pickle and/or putting a game in harm’s way, Kennedy could relieve them and pitch a few innings, saving the backend of the bullpen.