In an offseason where the Kansas City Royals have been less than active, they finally made a move. Trading for Trevor Oaks and Erick Mejia could be major pieces to the rebuild the Royals are destined to have.
When the news broke that the Los Angeles Dodgers are closing in on a trade, the Royals were the last team I had in mind that they were working with. Shortly after, Rustin Dodd tweeted that the two sides are closing in on a deal.
The plus side, if Scott Alexander is involved in a trade it should bring back someone of value. The downside, losing a bullpen player like Alexander is less than desirable. When news broke that the trade was finalized, something Dodgers beat writer Andy McCullough caught the attention of Royals nation.
A three-team-trade? I thought it was the Dodgers and the Royals working on a trade? Then Jon Morosi of MLB Network finished the report by explaining who the third team was and how they were involved.
The tweet brought mixed reactions. Joy because they were able to trade away the expensive and inconsistent Joakim Soria, as well as nine of the ten million they would have owed him. Sadness because the Royals traded away Alexander who is someone that seemed to be on the rise.
The Royals got who?:
If your initial reaction is “who?”, you are not alone. If you are outside the Dodgers organization, those two names probably do not mean a lot to you. However, upon further investigation and reading, the Royals seemed to have received a quality return.
Headline piece, Trevor Oaks:
The main piece of the trade is Oaks. Before the trade, Oaks was the Dodgers 14th ranked prospect. Last year, as a starter, he posted a 3.64 ERA in Triple-A Oklahoma City. What stands out the most, however, is his ERA over the last two years in Triple-A. He has a 3.15 ERA over 143.0 innings while starting in 25 games. With the Royals, Oaks is the 19th ranked prospect.
Some believe that the 24-year-old will be competing for a rotation spot during Spring Training. In a year where the Royals are planning on rebuilding and not being as competitive as years past, this year could be great timing for a young pitcher to work through early struggles.
When you look further into the numbers, Oaks seems to have a bright future. According to FanGraphs, last year Oaks had a strikeout rate of 7.71 K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings), a 1.93 BB/9 (walks per nine innings) and a WHIP of 1.25 (walks and hits per inning). He also posted a 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio, striking out 72 batters compared to 18 walks. All of this was over 84 innings pitched.
Moving away from the numbers, Oaks provides a viable solution to the future rotation problems the Royals might find themselves in. He also provides them the freedom to let current pitchers like Jason Hammel go next year if he meets expectations.
Something else that makes him attractive is how much the Royals will be paying him. He is still under the “pre-arbitration” status, which means he will be making the league minimum for a few more years. If he continues to move in the direction he currently is, then the Royals could have a great starting pitching for a fraction of the cost.
The added bonus, Erick Mejia:
After the original trade was announced, only Oaks looked to be involved. However, after the trade was finalized, the Royals walked away with Mejia as well. Again, if you walked away thinking “who?” you would not be alone.
Mejia is only 23-years-old and is going to be a prospect that may take a couple years to break through. However, if he picks up where he left off in the 2017 season he might push his way up quicker than anticipated. His fielding abilities fit in perfectly with the Royals because he can play multiple positions. He can play second base and third base, which provides the Royals with options if Whit Merrifield is traded, as well as if the need for a future third baseman is necessary.
Last year while playing at Double-A Tulsa, Mejia hit .289/.357/.413 over 102 games. He hit seven home runs, 17 doubles, and 25 stolen bases on 29 attempts (86%). During that time, he also posted close to a 2:1 K/BB ratio (strikeouts to walks), which is impressive.
As much as it does hurt the Royals bullpen seeing Alexander go, the trade was necessary. It seems as if the only way the Royals were going to be able to rid themselves of the Soria contract is if they made a trade like this. In a year where the Royals seem to be rebuilding, getting two players that can help the team succeed by potentially 2020, while still being inexpensive, seems like a no-brainer.
So what do you think Royals fan? Do you agree with the trade? Do you think the trade helps the team or hurts the team? Let us know your thoughts.