KC Royals Potential Departures, Vol. 7: Breaking Up

Apr 5, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon (4) catches a fly ball in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon (4) catches a fly ball in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

I spent a couple of weeks breaking down the different potential free-agent departures the KC Royals were looking at possibly losing, whether through in-season trade or off-season signing. Now it’s time for the guys under contract—who makes the most sense to deal, where could they go and what could they bring back (or force the Royals to give up in order to ship them out of town). Part two!

Miss Part One? Find it here.

Group Three: We’re listening. We’ll deny it to the death, but we are listening.

Alex Gordon, Ian Kennedy, Joakim Soria

In a perfect world, Alex Gordon and Joakim Soria retire as KC Royals. Unfortunately, we live in the world that we have and as such, it’s impractical not to consider them as candidates.

The fanbase (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) seem split regarding Gordon. Many view his extended funk as a market correction and that he’ll be back to an above-average hitter before long. Many others think Gordon’s slide from perennial All-Star to borderline unplayable is irreversible and that he should be thanked for the memories and shown the door.

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The problem with baseball is that most of the stupider front offices have been eradicated; even A.J. Preller has wised up slightly. There’s not a Dave Stewart in sight willing take a chance on a 33-year old outfielder who has been mostly subpar for a calendar year just because they think a change of scenery will get him back to the player he used to be. And even if that kind of illogical logic exists, finding investors to the tune of $40 million for the two seasons after this one may be a tall order. Color me dubious.

If a bullpen firesale occurred, it’s possible Soria would be involved. Ditto Kennedy and the rotation. But there are more prime candidates in both those roles; plus, with Kennedy and Soria locked up for the next two seasons (three, in Kennedy’s case), it would be good to have some solid, reliable vets around if this becomes a frame-off restoration.

Probability of Being Traded: Somewhere between 30-45 percent

Least Likely: Ian Kennedy

Most Likely: Joakim Soria (people love veteran bullpen arms)

Potential Trade Example: Gordon, Jorge Bonifacio and Soria to the Nationals for the Kieboom’s (Carter and Spencer, the No. 3 and 30 prospects in the Nats system), Joan Baez (No. 20) and Telmito Agustin (No. 26) plus some bonus pool slots.

Group Four: The KC Royals Are Open for Business

Kelvin Herrera, Mike Minor, Travis Wood, Brandon Moss, Jason Hammel

Judging from my interactions with some KC Royals fans on Twitter last Tuesday night, there is no love lost for Hammel. One person voiced their idea of deporting Hammel (along with Wood and, weirdly, Soler) to Russia. I don’t think that’s how deportation works, but I got the idea people are generally not fond of Hammel.

But he is a few things that become valuable to contenders near the trade deadline. Namely, he is a cheap arm ($5 million this year, $9 million in 2018) with playoff experience. Somebody will bite on him.

You could make the same argument for Moss—he’s not prohibitively expensive ($17.25 million over the next two seasons) and he has playoff experience. Maybe you and I don’t understand this, but this is a world where Neil Walker will make nearly that much just for this season. The dynamics of why baseball players make the money they make don’t seem to matter, especially at the deadline, since many front offices adopt a “We’ll worry about that after we clean up the confetti from the championship parade,” mindset.

Minor and Wood are included here because they’re basically the same person—veteran left-handers who used to be starters and are now prime candidates to become somebody’s version of Andrew Miller Lite* out of the bullpen—a multi-inning reliever who can work multiple times in a series.

(*–I see what I did there.)

And that brings us to Herrera, the most likely of all trade candidates—at this point, I’d put it at a near-lock he’s no longer a Royal by the end of July, if not sooner. Middle-of-the-road teams have no use for a good closer, and the hip new thing for contenders is to add as many possible closers as they can for the postseason (see 2016 Nationals, not that it worked, or the 2016 Cubs, for whom it very much did).

Should that come to fruition, it would be a sore blow to the franchise and a stark admission that the 2014-15 KC Royals are a thing of the past. HDH will be scattered to the four winds. And sadly, that’s probably the best thing for the franchise now.

Probability of Being Traded: Somewhere between 50-85 percent

Least Likely: Travis Wood

Most Likely: Kelvin Herrera

Next: Vol. 6: Probably not going anywhere

Potential Trade Example: Herrera and Hammel for Max Povse, D.J. Peterson, Ben Gamel and Dillon Overton (No.’s 5, 10, 17 and 18 on the MLBPipeline top-30 for the Mariners).