The KC Royals dealt for outfielder Jonny Gomes on Monday. On Tuesday, the Kansas City Royals announced that reliever Kelvin Herrera and right fielder Alex Rios were suffering from chickenpox and were expected to miss two weeks.
I doubt this timing was any accident. The KC Royals front office had to be aware of Alex Rios affliction before they made the Jonny Gomes deal, but kept the issue quiet to prevent teams from using Kansas City’s sudden need for an outfielder as leverage in trade talks.
Just take a look at the timeline.
A glance at Alex Rios’ and Kelvin Herrera’s game logs on Baseball-Reference show that both last played on Friday, August 28. I suspect the Kansas City Royals recognized that both were sick on the 29th in Tampa Bay and kept the affliction quiet due to the August 31 deadline to acquire players from outside the organization, while still have them eligible for post-season play.
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Once the deadline passed, and they completed the Gomes trade, there was no more reason to remain silent. Thus, we had the announcement on Tuesday.
While all of this is based on nothing but deduction, common sense suggests I am correct. I have a difficult time imaging that the KC Royals medical staff suddenly diagnosed Alex Rios and Kelvin Herrera with chickenpox less than 24 hours after acquiring a potential fill-in for Rios (who just happens to bat from the same side of the plate) for the stretch run.
Chickenpox in adults is no laughing matter. While Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost said that Herrera and Rios are recovering rapidly, and could come to Kauffman Stadium as early as Friday for workouts, they could still be feeling worn down by the time playoffs begin in October. Thus the need for a right-handed bat in case Rios isn’t up to snuff (I presume the Royals brain trust decided they had plenty of bullpen depth in case Herrera was still suffering lingering effects come playoff time).
Even if Alex Rios’ chickenpox was the driving force behind the Jonny Gomes deal, it still was a solid move. If Rios is fine come October, Jonny Gomes will still give Ned Yost another pinch hit option against lefties in the late innings, and another potential bat that could get hot during the playoffs.
Luis Valenzuela wasn’t an outrageous price to pay, considering that the KC Royals system is loaded with shortstop prospects.