At this point, if the Kansas City Royals are truly going to be buyers at the trade deadline, their needs are quite apparent. Given their utter inability to score runs on a consistent basis, despite ranking fifth in baseball in batting average, the Royals need someone capable of actually driving runners home. A power bat in the middle of the lineup is desperately needed.
One of the hot Royals trade rumors over the past few weeks has been their pursuit of Marlon Byrd. Byrd would certainly fit the bill as the power bat that the royals have been looking for, but is due $8 Million next season and has a vesting option for 2016 worth another $8 Million. Plus, Byrd has a limited no-trade clause, which happens to include the Royals. Even though he fits what the Royals need, Byrd may not want to come to Kansas City.
However, if he can be convinced to come over, Byrd may not be leaving the Philadelphia Phillies by himself. A.J. Burnett, who may also be on the trade block, has a limited no-trade clause as well, but the Royals are not one of the twenty teams he can decline a trade to. As Burnett wants to stay relatively close to his Maryland home, Kansas City appears to be the furthest away he is willing to travel.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 22, 2014
While it would seem as though pitching, especially in the starting rotation, would be the last thing the Royals would need, they have scouted other starters. Prior to being traded to the Oakland A’s, the Royals reportedly had interest in Jeff Samardzija. The Royals have also been reportedly scouting Ian Kennedy as a possible addition to the rotation. However, both Samardzija and Kennedy are under team control through 2015, so they may have been considered pitchers that could fill the void should James Shields depart via free agency, instead of just being an upgrade for this year.
Burnett, however, would be that one year rental for the Royals. Perhaps he would come over to take the place of either Danny Duffy or Yordano Ventura in the rotation later in the year, as the Royals may look to limit the innings on both of the young arms. Or, perhaps to get the Phillies to convince Byrd to waive his no-trade clause to the Royals, they would need to take on Burnett to give the Phillies some salary relief.
If the Royals and the Phillies do find a way to consummate a trade, Marlon Byrd may not be the only player coming over. He could be accompanied by A.J. Burnett, giving the Royals both a power bat and another veteran presence in the starting rotation.