Royals’ Potential Trade Partners at the Winter Meetings


Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB Winter Meetings are underway, which means this week is probably going to be a whirlwind of transactions. Trades will be made, free agents will be signed, and Scott Boras will be quoted. The Royals should be heavily involved in all of the happenings, considering they have no fewer than 3 holes to fill. As David mentioned a few days ago, Dayton Moore might be a busy man this week, trying to acquire a starting pitcher, right fielder, and another bat to use in a designated hitter role.

Granted, the Royals don’t necessarily have to make any moves this week, but it is a good time for front office members and agents to get deals done. And there are plenty of potential deals to be made. There is a bevy of available talent on the market from which the Royals can choose. We’ve talked about some of the free agents on the market, as well as a few potential trade targets, but that’s merely a fraction of the team’s options.

Rather than break down every single player the Royals could pursue, I thought it might make sense to simply offer a few teams who could be most likely to trade with Moore. This list is hardly comprehensive – there are 29 other teams in the league, and the Royals are free to trade with any of them. These are just the teams whose own strengths match up with the Royals’ needs, and vice versa.

Dodgers – The new front office in Los Angeles has an extremely talented roster, as well as an extremely bloated payroll. They also have an excess of outfielders and only a limited amount of playing time available. I’m sure the Dodgers would love to trade Andre Ethier and/or Carl Crawford, but their left-handed bats may not be great fits for the Royals.

However, they do have other desirable right-handed outfielders the Royals would love. Unfortunately, dealing for Matt Kemp would be difficult, and acquiring Yasiel Puig is nearly impossible. That leaves Scott Van Slyke as a realistic option, although his affordable salary may make it tougher to pry him away. The Dodgers need bullpen help, and obviously the Royals have an abundance of that, as well as some talent in the minors, so there could be a framework for a deal.

Red Sox – Much like the Dodgers, the Red Sox have an overcrowded outfield. Unlike the Dodgers, the Red Sox have far more right-handed hitters as trade bait. They have a few guys who are close to untouchable in Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts, but Yoenis Cespedes seems the most likely to be traded, and Boston could move Shane Victorino or Allen Craig, as well.

All three could be fits in Kansas City, but the Red Sox need starting pitching, and the Royals may not have the kind of talent needed to get a deal done. But, if another team gets involved, particularly one willing to receive some prospects, it could be easier to bring in someone like Cespedes in his walk year.

Astros – Houston isn’t likely to be a contender in 2015, which means they may not demand major league talent in a trade. They are looking for bullpen help though, and again, the Royals can afford to trade some of their depth, especially to improve the offense. Dexter Fowler and Chris Carter both have the potential to make in impact in the Royals’ lineup, and both are rumored to be available. The Astros also have plenty of catching depth the Royals may be interested in.

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Fowler is a consistently solid performer at the plate and is a free agent after the season, while Carter has difficulty making consistent contact and is under team control for four more years. Getting either player would make sense, and if the Royals could get both, they’d fill their holes on offense in a more efficient manner.

Padres – While the Royals need offense, they’re also needing a starting pitcher to help offset the loss of James Shields, and the Padres have a few candidates who could do just that. Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross, and Andrew Cashner are all reportedly on the block, and all three would be great fits in the Royals’ rotation. Cashner is the most talented of the bunch, Ross has the most years of team control remaining, and Kennedy would likely come at the cheapest cost.

San Diego seems to be trying to compete next season, and they need more offense than Kansas City, so a trade may not be terribly easy. A three-team deal could happen, or perhaps more likely, the Padres will realize they’re not quite as close to contention and will accept a package of prospects instead of big league players.

Blue Jays – Alex Anthopoulos has been wheeling and dealing all offseason, so I don’t expect him to stop this week. Toronto is reportedly interested in Greg Holland, although it sounds like the Royals are wanting a big return to make a deal. I doubt the Blue Jays would part with Marcus Stroman, but they do have a few other starters who could be useful in Kansas City, as well as some very talented prospects in the upper minors.

Rockies – While I’d love to see Troy Tulowitzki in a Royals uniform, that’s not happening. Probably the same for Carlos Gonzalez. But, Colorado does have quite a few outfielders on the roster, and they’re reportedly shopping catcher Wilin Rosario. His defense leaves a lot to be desired, but Rosario could handle a few games behind the plate along with semi-regularly DH duties. The Rockies should be open to prospects in return.

BravesJustin Upton is probably the most highly sought-after bat on the trade market right now, and he’d be a tremendous fit in the Royals lineup. Evan Gattis may cost a bit to acquire, but he’s another name that may be available. I’m not sure which direction the Braves are headed, so it’s tough to say what kind of return they’d require, but the Royals could probably put something together.

And as I said, that’s just a partial list. The Nationals, Diamondbacks, and Phillies also have some useful players that should be on the trading block, so Dayton Moore will have plenty of opportunities to make something happen. If a trade doesn’t go down, I doubt it will be for a lack of trying, because I’d bet Moore and his staff will be working the phones as much as possible so they can improve the Royals’ roster this week.