Yesterday, the first domino of the trading deadline fell down. Scott Kazmir was traded to the Houston Astros in exchange for two prospects, pitcher Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham. According to the preseason rankings at MLB.com, Mengden was considered to be the Astros 19th best prospect, while Nottingham ranked 22nd in their system. With Kazmir being considered one of the top arms that had been available, one would have expected the Oakland A’s to receive more in return.
So, what does this mean for the Kansas City Royals? Obivously, they are now without the services of a pitcher that they had been connected to in trade rumors, leaving their rotation still in need of an upgrade. Despite Kazmir’s struggles during August and September of last year, when he posted a 3-6 record with a 6.05 ERA and a 1.541 WHiP, and his abysmal postseason performance (a 5.20 ERA and a 1.734 WHiP in nine outings), he would have been an upgrade in the middle of the Royals rotation.
Yet, the fact that Kazmir was traded to the Astros may prove to be a benefit for the Royals. While they could certainly use his arm down the stretch, the market may have been set for a pitcher of his caliber. As of right now, with a week left before the trade deadline, the price for that type of pitcher has been set at two middling prospects.
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While each team has a vastly different price tag on the players that they make available, one has to wonder if this trade changes the expectations on a return for front offices around baseball. Could teams like the White Sox and the Reds, who have Jeff Samardzija and Mike Leake on the block, for example, now scale back their demands? What does this trade mean for the return that could be expected for those top of the rotation starters, like Johnny Cueto and David Price?
If this does change those expectations, then the Kansas City Royals may find that their minor league talent can go further than they thought for upgrades. Yes, the Astros have a deep farm system, so Mengden and Nottingham would likely be ranked higher on quite a few other teams’ prospect lists, but neither player is an elite, “can’t miss” prospect either.
It may not have seemed that the Royals had enough ammunition to take care of their perceived needs in the lineup and in the starting rotation. However, if one can use the Scott Kazmir trade as a guideline, the Royals may have more than enough to take care of those various needs on their team. Or, if they look to make a package deal where they acquire a starting pitcher and an outfielder, the cost may be less than anticipated.
Even though the Kansas City Royals did not get Kazmir, this trade may have helped them regardless. Should the market truly be set by this trade, then they could be in excellent shape to make a splash at the trade deadline.