It appears as though the Royals quest to solidify their bullpen is continuing. After picking up Scott Downs and trading for Jason Frasor, the Royals still do not appear to be satisfied. To that end, the latest Royals trade rumor involves yet another middle relief arm in the Philadelphia Phillies Antonio Bastardo, who the Royals have reportedly been scouting.
The Phillies have been linked to the Royals as a possible trade partner before, as Marlon Byrd could be the middle of the order bat that the Royals need. A.J. Burnett is another possibility, as the Royals have scouted several starting pitchers, and Burnett’s no-trade clause does not include Kansas City. It could be that Bastardo may be a part of a package deal involving one, if not both, players.
Although Antonio Bastardo does have some closing experience, he has typically served in a setup role for the Phillies. A lefty who features a low 90′s fastball and a slider, Bastardo has produced a 4-3 record with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.114 WHiP, striking out 53 batters in 44 innings. Bastardo does struggle with his control at times, issuing 24 walks this year, but has been able to minimize the damage by allowing only a .163/.282/.275 batting line.
Bastardo certainly fits as the type of upgrade the Royals could use in the bullpen. While Downs has been better for the Royals than he was with the Chicago White Sox this season, he still does not exactly inspire confidence when he comes into the game. Francisley Bueno has performed well, and has increased his strikeout rate during the month of July, but a second reliable left handed reliever would certainly be beneficial.
Acquiring another reliever may not be the biggest need for the Royals, but Antonio Bastardo would be a nice fit in the bullpen. A lefty with the ability to strike batters out, he could give Yost another weapon in the bullpen, and not just as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen. Bastardo also would not be a rental for the Royals, as he is still under team control until 2016.
If the Royals were to acquire Bastardo, chances are he would be part of a package deal. As another bullpen arm is not one of the main issues surrounding the team, Bastardo could potentially be acquired along with Marlon Byrd. Such a trade would not only help this year, but next year as well, as both players are signed through at least 2015.
Antonio Bastardo may not be the most exciting player that the Royals could acquire, but he could be important to their chances down the stretch. Even if the Royals were not to make the playoffs this season, acquiring Bastardo could still pay dividends.