CBS Sports writer Mike Axisa named the KC Royals one of nine top suitors for Detroit outfielder Yoenis Cespedes as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.
Axisa’s story followed a report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that Detroit stars David Price and Cespedes are available for trade with the Tigers falling out of the American League Central race.
The obvious reason that Axisa views the Kansas CIty Royals as a possible destination for Cespedes is Alex Gordon‘s groin injury that is likely to cost him two months of playing time. Yoenis Cespedes will be a free-agent at the end of the season, making him the perfect short-term solution for what shapes up to be a short-term problem.
Last week, I evaluated the top trade targets to fill-in for Alex Gordon during his injury. I did not include Cespedes since I thought the Tigers would be buyers, rather than sellers, at the trade deadline.
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Yoenis Cespedes would be a significant upgrade for the KC Royals lineup. He’s hitting .289/.315/488 with 27 doubles, 14 home runs, and 54 RBI’s. He’s a middle of the order bat that can fill in for Alex Gordon in left over the next two months—and, perhaps, take over in left for Alex Rios during the stretch run and the playoffs.
Cespedes isn’t a perfect candidate, however. He’s never played right field in the major leagues in his three-and-a-half years in the major-leagues. He does possess a strong enough arm to play in right field with a total of 43 outfield assists playing in both center and left.
Overall, Baseball-reference’s dWAR stat rates Cespedes as an above-average glove in left since the beginning of 2014.
If Gordon comes back to the KC Royals in September, Cespedes would then have a full month of play to acclimate himself to right before the playoffs.
The other advantage of a Cespedes deal is that the Kansas City Royals would not have to rely on Alex Rios recent improvement continuing in the second half of the season. While expensive, Rios could then become a bench bat with power to pair with Jarrod Dyson as a defensive replacement in the outfield.
Of course, trading for Yoenis Cespedes would force the KC Royals to negotiate with a division-rival, which might come back to haunt them in future years if the prospects they deal to the Tigers succeed.
Even so, the compensation to land Cespedes shouldn’t be crippling given that he’s a short-term rental. General manager Dayton Moore should not let that old-school baseball concern stop him from making a trade that would help the KC Royals win the 2015 World Series. With Cespedes, second baseman Omar Infante would become the only below-average bat in the lineup.
That fact alone, would make a Cespedes trade tempting.