During the trade deadline, the Kansas City Royals established themselves as buyers and contenders. Close to a month later, how have those trades impacted the team and its playoff hopes?
Trading for outfielder Melky Cabrera, starting pitcher Trevor Cahill, and relief pitchers Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter meant the Kansas City Royals were all-in. The Royals were retooling to make a push for the division and playoffs. But how has the team and the new acquisitions performed since the trades?
Let’s look at the numbers.
When the Kansas City Royals traded within the division for Cabrera, it first came with some confusion. Where would he play? Who will be pushed to the bench? As many predicted, rookie Jorge Bonifacio drew the short straw and became the fourth outfielder/roaming DH. Whether that has impacted his recent play is up for debate, but let’s get back to Cabrera.
Since joining the Kansas City Royals, Cabrera has a .291 average with three home runs, nine extra-base hits, 15 RBI, and 14 strikeouts to five walks. From Cabrera’s first game with the Royals on July 31, only Lorenzo Cain (.355), Eric Hosmer (.315) and Mike Moustakas (.309) rank higher on the team in batting average.
Cabrera’s infectious attitude and play continue to be a perfect fit for the team. In fact, it would not be a far-out idea to imagine the Royals attempting to keep him with the team after this year.
When the Kansas City Royals acquired Cahill from the Padres, he had started in 11 games and had a 3.69 ERA. Unfortunately, that same success has not followed him to Kansas City.
In his three starts with the Royals, Cahill has yet to reach five complete innings. His longest outing is 4.2 innings against Seattle. For whatever reason, he just has not looked comfortable with the team. He has a less than impressive 8.18 ERA over 11 innings, while striking out just six batters to an unsettling nine walks.
Before the trade, Cahill had just one game where he allowed the same or more walks compared to strikeouts. With the Kansas City Royals, in two of his three starts he has allowed the same or more walks compared to strikeouts. Maybe even more eye-popping is that Cahill is averaging over 20 pitches per inning. Not good for a starter.
One of the red flags about Cahill before the trade was when he suffered a shoulder injury during the year. After three starts with the Royals—and his worst start of the year—Cahill went back on the DL with right shoulder impingement.
Probably one of the more exciting trade pieces for the Kansas City Royals is Buchter. With the Padres, he had an impressive 3.05 ERA, a 2.75:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and he was pretty consistent no matter what side of the plate the batter hit from over 38.1 innings.
Since the trade, Buchter has a less-than-impressive 4.43 ERA and a 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but he has stayed pretty consistent against right-handed and left-handed batters.
When you look further, besides his game against St. Louis where he allowed three runs—two off a home run—Buchter has been one of the better bullpen arms when coming into the game. When removing that game, he has a much more appealing 2.65 ERA with the Royals.
Buchter has made 14 appearances with the Kansas City Royals. When the bullpen starts finalizing who pitches what inning, I honestly would not be surprised if Buchter takes over the seventh-inning responsibilities.
Maurer has had a different story than his fellow Padre bullpen friend. Maurer was the closer for a while in San Diego, but when looking at his overall numbers, he has struggled throughout the year keeping opponents off the scoreboard.
Kansas City Royals
Before being traded, Maurer had a 5.72 ERA, which was confusing based off of how filthy his pitches can be. However, his numbers with the Kansas City Royals are a bit deceptive.
His 7.23 ERA with the Royals so far is very uneasy to see, especially when it is coming from someone the team was hoping would solidify the bullpen. However, again if you look at his outings, in nine of his 14 appearances he has not allowed a run. Three of his 14 outings contributed to the skyrocketing ERA. Without those three outings, Maurer has a much more appealing 1.96 ERA with the Kansas City Royals.
One thing that does concern me about Maurer is his strikeout-to-walk ratio. For a power arm, his current 1.6:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is really low. He seemingly is embracing a “contact pitcher” mentality. That could be a good or bad thing, but—as of right now—it seems to be working.
On the plus side—with current closer Kelvin Herrera struggling to have a clean inning and experiencing forearm tightness recently—Maurer might be closer to having another chance at closing out games like he did in San Diego than fans originally thought.
Looking at what each player has done so far, you would think the Kansas City Royals picked up where they left off prior to the trade deadline.
Unfortunately, the Royals are slumping. BADLY.
The Royals are 12-17 since the trade with the Padres happened and have fallen from three to eight games back of Cleveland. They have also fallen out of the second Wild Card spot and are currently 1.5 games behind Minnesota.
This raises the question of whether or not the trades are actually helping the team, though.
Can you consider the trades successful if the Kansas City Royals continue to fall in the standings and miss the playoffs? Or are the trades the reason the Royals are not completely out of the playoff race? What do you believe?