The Royals are rumored to be open to trade either Lorenzo Cain or Jarrod Dyson due to a surplus of outfielders. The Los Angeles Dodgers are the best match for a Dyson deal.
Though the Kansas City Royals are willing to listen on both Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson, most pundits believe Dyson is the one most likely to move. Many believe KC’s demands for Cain will be too high, but Dyson should come at a price that more teams can afford.
If Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore can get proper value, dealing Cain makes more sense. If Moore can land enough talent so that moving Cain doesn’t hurt KC’s ability to win in 2017, he would also be able to free up $11 million in salary that he can use in free-agency. A Dyson deal would probably only draw near-MLB ready prospects.
However, the KC Royals could use both more starting pitching depth and more candidates for the bullpen. Moore considered improving his pen an off-season priority, and he’s done little this winter to address this weakness. The only real bullpen move Moore has made is to deal closer Wade Davis to the Cubs in return for Jorge Soler.
What makes the Los Angeles Dodgers a good trade partner is that 1) they have near MLB pitching prospects whom they don’t need in 2017 and 2) the Dodgers play in the National League. If Dyson goes crazy in Los Angeles, it won’t directly harm the Royals (unless, of course, the two teams meet in the World Series).
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The Potential Return From Dodgers
The pair of pitchers that I’d like to get from the Dodgers would be Brock Stewart and Jacob Rhame. The problem is that the pair of them might be too high an asking price for Dyson—who is really a bench player after all. Now, Dyson is one of the best fourth-outfielders in the league with 3.1 bWAR value last season. That’s higher than the average position player, who puts up around 2.0 WAR per season. Dyson is also in the last year of his contract.
Yet, you sell the Dodgers on the idea that Dyson is more valuable in the post-season where his base-running can turn a key game.
The thing is Stewart has mid-to-low rotation upside and reliever Rhame has a 70 grade fastball. The 23-year-old Rhame would give the Royals another candidate as a set-up man, while Stewart would enter the mix for the no. 5 rotation spot. The problem is that Kansas City probably can’t balance the deal with a prospect, since the Dodgers system is already bursting with talent.
If Stewart is too good to pair with Rhame for Dyson, then the KC Royals should go after Trevor Oaks. Like Stewart, the 23-year-old Oaks is ready for a major-league job but is blocked in Los Angeles. Oaks doesn’t miss many bats (6.1 K/9 in his minor league career). But, Oaks keeps the ball on the ground a little over 61% of the time. He also throws strikes (1.5 BB/9).
In front of an outstanding defense, Oaks might be more effective than his peripherals might suggest.
Why The Deal Is Fair
The reason this trade works is that the Dodgers are a team trying to win a title. They’ve won four straight NL West titles without a World Series appearance. Dyson has much move value to a team like that given that he’s an exceptional situational player. Consider that L.A. just paid another situation-specific player $80 million over five years in reliever Kenley Jansen. Jansen has produced 7.7 bWAR over the last four seasons, which is 2.2 bWAR less than Dyson.
The Dodgers have plenty of outfielders, but don’t have a plus defender in center-field. You really want a guy like that when trying to hold onto a late lead in the post-season. Dyson brings both elite range and a surprisingly strong arm (19 outfield assists the last two seasons). Meanwhile, both Oaks and Rhame carry significant flaws that could restrict their upside.
Oaks is a pitch to contact guy, which limits him to a bottom of the rotation upside. Rhame lacks a secondary pitch. Kansas City is taking the risk that BOTH could fail to produce significant MLB value. To justify the deal, given Royals GM Dayton Moore’s belief his team can contend this year, KC will have to believe that at least one of the two will help the big club this season.
The fly in the ointment here is that the Dodgers aren’t thinking about a Dyson deal. They’re far more concerned with landing a second baseman. One of the biggest rumors this winter is a proposed deal between Los Angeles and Minnesota for Twins second baseman Brian Dozier. Until this situation gets resolved, any trade for Dyson is going to be on the back burner.