KC Royals: Could Nick Markakis Take This Offense to New Heights?
The KC Royals offense has been outstanding lately, rebounding from their awful month of April to slingshot the Royals right into the middle of the AL Central race.
The KC Royals offense was so bad in April that they averaged less than three runs per game in 23 games. The Royals ended April with a record of 7-16, including nine consecutive losses to end the month. The Royals lost four of their first seven games in May and sat at the bottom of the AL standings with a record of 10-20.
Most people had already begun to salivate over the return that Lorenzo Cain and Kelvin Herrera were going to bring back in a trade with the Washington Nationals. I was one of them. Victor Robles already played for the Royals in my mind.
Then something incredible happened.
The Royals began to hit! And as they began to hit, they began to win! Since starting the season 10-20, the Royals own a ridiculous record of 34-20 and have put themselves right in the midst of the AL Central race. With one more Padre miracle tonight in Cleveland, the Royals could enter the series in Los Angeles this weekend in FIRST PLACE.
Yes, you read that correctly.
All of this winning has certainly changed the tune for the KC Royals for this coming trade deadline. Instead of looking for people to buy their product, they are on the other side of the table looking for a few finishing touches for a team that they hope can make another run at the Fall Classic.
There is one guy in particular that I think the Royals can reasonably afford that would take their offense to the next level, and he plays in Atlanta.
Nick Markakis, the right fielder for the Atlanta Braves, owns an impressive .285/.363/.383 slash line.
Jorge Bonifacio was a God-send to this KC Royals offense early on in the year. In May, Bonifacio hit 6 home runs and owned an OPS of .842 in 27 games. He was the hero that the KC Royals and KC Royals fans both needed and deserved, but he is not the hero they need right now.
In June, Bonifacio’s OPS dipped to .720 and the power started to fade as well. So far in July, the power has all but disappeared and his OPS has slipped to .616.
These kind of things are totally normal for rookies. Jorge Bonifacio was not expected to be some kind of Bryce Harper superstar. In no way do I think that Bonifacio’s career is over.
But the KC Royals are still chasing the Cleveland Indians. I wish the Royals had time to let Bonifacio hit his way out of this slump. I’m just not sure they do.
If the Royals want to win the AL Central in 2017, Nick Markakis might be exactly what they need in the 2-hole. Markakis’ current .363 OBP would currently rank 2nd on this Royals team behind only Eric Hosmer. Putting a lefty like Markakis between Whit Merrifield and Lorenzo Cain would give this lineup incredible balance, and go even further in an effort to find table setters for the middle of the order.
What’s more impressive for Markakis are his numbers away from SunTrust Park. In 42 home games Markakis is slashing .250/.300/.339. If you remove him from SunTrust Park, he is slashing .324/.427/.432 in 41 road games. 41 games is a pretty good sample size. He also won the Rawlings Gold Glove award in 2011 and 2014 so he fits the Royals mold of top-tier defenders.
Nick Markakis has additional value in that he is under team control in 2018, so he isn’t just a 2017 rental. The KC Royals don’t have a perfect answer for their outfield in 2018, so trading for Markakis would buy Dayton Moore a little more time to figure out exactly what he wants to do going forward.
The biggest question I’m sure you have is, “What is Markakis going to cost?”
Well, I thought about that too, and I think I have a very reasonable answer for you.
Last season, the New York Mets traded minor league 2B Dilson Herrera and LHP Max Wotell for Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce.
At the time, Jay Bruce was slashing .265/.316/.559 with 25 home runs. His contract situation was fairly similar to that of Nick Markakis’ contract now.
Dilson Herrera had been in and out of the major leagues, but had widely been considered a top-five prospect in the Mets’ system. SB Nation had Max Wotell listed as the Mets 19th-best prospect and gave him a C+ grade as a 19-year old.
I don’t think Nick Markakis would be quite as expensive as Jay Bruce, but he may ending up being close depending on the Braves willingness to trade him.
The Atlanta Braves have one of the best farm systems in all of baseball, but have only two outfielders among their top 20 prospects, and not a single catcher.
I think this is where the Royals could help out the Atlanta Braves, as the Royals have three catchers in their top 20 prospects according to our friends over at SB Nation and have a pretty decent catcher in the major leagues locked up for the next few years. You may have heard of him.
I am not a general manager, and no one is going to ask me to help facilitate a trade, but I can’t help but wonder if a package including Cam Gallagher (No. 20 prospect, currently catching in Omaha), Jorge Bonifacio, and one of Scott Blewett/Garrett Davila/Andrew Edwards could get the job done.
Again, I think Jorge Bonifacio has a bright future ahead of him. Unfortunately though I’m not sure if he is the answer for the KC Royals in 2017. Nick Markakis could really help this offense in an attempt to return to it’s 2015 level, and provide some more Gold Glove caliber defense in RF.
Next: A little extra blue in South Beach
I’m not a psychic, nor am I in the Royals brain trust, but this trade makes a lot of sense for the “all-in” attitude that Dayton Moore and Ned Yost have portrayed to Royals fans, and could really help to propel the offense as the Boys in Blue make one more run at the AL Central.