The Kansas City Royals are getting a jump start on the inevitable. Jon Jay clocks in as the first Royals player to be traded in the 2018 rebuild.
In a somewhat surprising move, the Kansas City Royals traded their first piece yesterday. No, the surprise isn’t that Jon Jay was traded. The surprise was the fact that he was traded on June 6th.
This was a move everyone should have expected to happen. Jay was playing solid baseball this year, and being on a one-year deal it was obvious he was going to be traded.
When the Royals signed him late during Spring Training after Jorge Bonifacio got pinned for PED’s, it should have been obvious what the end goal was going to be. The fact that he signed a one-year, $3 million deal was going to be appealing to any contending team that needed an outfielder. All the Royals needed from Jay was offensive production and adequate defense.
What the Royals got was a hitter who went .307/.363/.374 with a .737 OPS and 12 extra-base hits. He also came close to setting a Royals franchise record with the most hits in a single month, with 43 hits.
If the Royals wanted to get the most in return for Jay, they had to strike while the iron was hot. And it was pretty hot. For the month of May, Jay hit a very impressive .368/.402/.436 and seven extra-base hits.
The trade breakdown
Jon Heyman recent released an article of 12 trades that should happen but hasn’t, and Jay was one of those candidates. However, he had him bundled with Kelvin Herrera.
I have been under the impression that if a team was hungry enough the Royals could trade Jay by himself. It was just a matter of how hungry the team was.
Obviously, the Arizona Diamondbacks were hungry. According to reports, the Diamondbacks went after Jay without the Royals initiating conversations.
Arizona Sports 98.7 FM quoted Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen as saying, “With the way the division is shaping up, where every day matters more and more, we just felt like this was the right thing to do at the time.” He also went on to say, “Certainly with the injuries that we’ve sustained over the early part of the season, we just felt like this was an area that we were going to need to address in the short-term.”
Jay seems to fit the need they felt they had and they wanted to address it now. To be honest, you can’t really blame them. If they feel they are in the right spot and need a piece to help, go get it if you can. Kansas City fans should be well versed in this after the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
The return was actually a bit better than I anticipated. I figured the trade would bring a prospect or two that would be project players and have a chance to make the big leagues. While the returning guys may be project players, they have a better chance of contributing than I thought the Royals would get.
Let’s start with the main piece of the trade. Elvis Luciano is an 18-year-old pitcher from the Dominican Republic. In 2017 he played between three levels of rookie ball and was stellar. He went 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA over 66.2 innings. Of his 16 appearances, eight were starts. He also has 52 strikeouts compared to 18 walks.
The Royals have high hopes for the young pitcher as well.
The 18-year-old has been assigned to Burlington and will be someone to keep an eye one.
The last piece to the trade is relief pitcher Gabe Speier. The 23-year-old lefty has a pretty decent minor league track record. Throughout his first six years, he has a 3.08 ERA over 234.0 innings. He has a bit of work still to be done, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
Speier has been assigned to Northwest Arkansas, so keeping an eye on the new Double-A pitcher might be something worthwhile. With how bad parts of the bullpen have been, he might make the jump sooner rather than later. Especially with trades coming up and the unknown of who all will be traded.
All things considered, the fact that the Royals got two arms for the price of one is impressive. Something that should not go forgotten is the fact that Jay’s small contract if off the books.
The Royals were able to sign a rental player and achieve their goal. While Speier does not have as much flash behind him, Luciano does. The once 26th ranked prospect in Arizona’s system is now the 27th ranked prospect in Kansas City. That is something that should not go unnoticed.
Regardless of what you think about Jay and the Royals trading him, the Royals achieved a goal. Now it’s just a matter of who else is traded, when, and what the return will be. Hopefully, those teams are as hungry to make additions as Arizona was.
So what do you think Royals fans? Do you like the trade? Let us know your thoughts below!