The Kansas City Royals continue their push to prove they are all-in. This time, a familiar face is brought back to the Royals family.
Former Chicago White Sox outfielder, Melky Cabrera, was traded to the Kansas City Royals. In the trade the Royals are sending A.J. Puckett, a second round pick in the 2016 draft, and Andre Davis, eighth round pick in the 2015 draft, to the White Sox.
What the Royals are getting?
To put it straight, the Royals are getting a very consistent, switch-hitting veteran bat that has been able to stay healthy, as well as a player that knows the organization after being with the club in 2011.
So far this year, Cabrera has slashed a nice .295/.336/.436 in 98 of the 101 games the White Sox have played. His 117 hits, 17 doubles, 13 home-runs, and 56 runs batted in, are all good enough to put him in the Top-5 of current Royals.
Cabrera is hitting a staggering .345/.356/.552 since the All-Star Break. During those 14 games, Cabrera has 20 hits, three doubles, three homers, and five RBIs.
The Royals were most likely attracted to Cabrera because of his splits against left-handed pitcher and right-handed pitchers. The 32-year old has a slash of .294/.339/.412 against left-handed pitchers and a slash of .296/.327/.500 against right-handed pitchers. This is important because it shows that it does not matter what side of the mound the pitcher throws from, the Royals are going to get consistency.
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What will they do with him?
This is the biggest question facing the team right now. Where will they put him? Royals beat writer Rustin Dodd mentioned that Cabrera will most likely split time as the teams DH and corner outfield. This means that he will be taking time away from Brandon Moss, Jorge Bonifacio, and perhaps Alex Gordon.
What does this mean for the current DH/outfield makeup?
Even though Moss has hit an unusual .292/.378/.523 in the month of July, and is hitting .271 since the All-Star Break, the less streaky Cabrera is still a more attractive DH option. When Moss is the DH, either Gordon or Bonifacio might find themselves watching instead of playing.
Gordon is hitting a miserable .202/.296/.303 so far this year. Even after hitting better in June and July, he still is hitting at a less than impressive .227 clip. Due to Bonifacio hitting .258/.327/.446 on the year, and .288 since the All-Star Break, offensively it is hard justifying removing Bonifacio from the lineup and allowing Gordon to swing the bat.
One thing that could help decide where Cabrera fits with the team is how they play defensively. While Cabrera has an impressive .988 fielding percentage (Fld%) and Bonficacio has an equally impressive .987 Fld%, Gordon has a dominant .995 Fld%. Cabrera has a -1.0 defensive WAR (dWAR), Bonficacio has a -0.5 dWAR, and Gordon has a 1.2 dWAR.
With worse defensive numbers, albeit a very small margin, Cabrera might find himself as a DH more often than a corner outfielder.
The Royals did improve with the Cabrera trade. The next couple games will help clear up the question of where Cabrera will play, but the OF/DH time share seem inevitable. With Cabrera in the lineup, one thing Royals fans can get excited for is good consistent at-bats.
The Kansas City Royals have firmly planted themselves as contenders. All we can do now is sit back and enjoy the ride.