A Joc Pederson trade already fell through with another team. The KC Royals would be smart to inquire about the young outfielder.
Yes, mega-trades are always interesting. The speculation of whether or not the teams made an even trade, who fleeces who, and the questions of “how did [insert team] trade [insert player] to [insert team] for [insert player]?” Even small trades like the ones the current-day KC Royals make are fun to watch unfold.
However, the Los Angeles Dodgers weren’t able to make a trade that was originally agreed on and it sparks a lot of interest in my mind for the Kansas City Royals. In fact, after thinking about it more, it’s a trade that I think the Royals should give serious consideration to trying.
The Dodgers had an agreed-upon a trade that would send outfielder Joc Pederson and pitcher Ross Stripling to the Los Angeles Angels for infielder Luis Rengifo. The only caveat was the trade wouldn’t be finalized until the Dodgers finalized the mega-trade with Minnesota and Boston. Since that trade took so long, the Angels backed out of the trade completely, leaving Pederson and Stripling with the Dodgers.
Why should the KC Royals care about this?
One of the biggest fears the Royals fan base seems to have with the new ownership is simply the organization staying with the status quo. This simply put is missing big named players in free agency, not making significant trades, and having small windows of success due to not spending money to stay competitive.
What better way to extinguish those fears than making the same move the Angels backed away from?
Who do the Royals have that match Luis Rengifo’s production?
Rengifo is actually very similar to a couple of players the Royals currently have. In his first year at the big league level, Rengifo hit .238/.321/.364 with 28 extra-base hits and had an offensive value of .298 wOBA (he would be in the “Awful” category). The 22-year-old second baseman/shortstop played in 108 games for the Angels and posted a 2.0 UZR at his primary position, second base, and a 0.5 UZR at shortstop.
When you look at his minor league numbers the last two years as well, Rengifo posted a .294/.388/.454 with 60 extra-base hits. He also had a wRC+ 106 and 91 in Triple-A. To go along with his what his offensive value was, he posted a .358 (Above Average) and a .336 (Average) wOBA during that time.
One possible option that is comparable to Rengifo is Erick Mejia.
Mejia’s nine big league games are going to make it difficult to see what he can actually do at the big league level, so looking at his minor league numbers might make things easier to see the comparison. In Double-A and Triple-A, Mejia hit .267/.328/.374 with 74 extra-base hits. He also had an 88 and 78 wRC+ over the last two years and a .310 (Below Average) and .318 (Below Average) wOBA offensive value during that time.
No, they obviously aren’t the exact same player. Rengifo is statistically a better player than Mejia has shown in the minors. The point being though, the two are similar in positions played and to an extent offensive value.
Does Pederson make sense for the Royals?
In my opinion, Pederson could be the exact player the Royals need. He is not a liability in the outfield and can play all three outfield positions. He brings some extra excitement due to his ability to hit for power, and he is only 27-years-old.
When you look at him statistically, he is an upgrade offensively for the Royals. Since playing more consistently at the big league level, he has posted an “Average” to “Above Average” wOBA every year. He has also never had a wRC+ below 100. In fact, excluding his injury-riddled season in 2017, Pederson’s wRC+ has never dropped below 115, which means would put him as an “Above Average” offensive player.
Defensively, he has played more games in center field than right or left field. His defensive metrics show that he could be a league-average left and right fielder too. He has an 8.0 UZR (Above Average) in left field, a 0.4 UZR (Average) in right field, and a -7.1 UZR (Poor) in center field.
Obviously, a trade like this isn’t going to happen unless the Royals know for sure that they are going to be able to extend Pederson. He is in the last year of his Arbitration, meaning he will hit free agency at the end of the 2020 season. With new ownership, we are still unsure what type of new money the Royals will have, and an extension of any player could help give us a clearer picture.
The KC Royals are also going to need to trade someone other than Mejia in order to get Pederson. The Dodgers traded Mejia to the Royals in the Scott Alexander trade two years ago that also brought Trevor Oaks to Kansas City. The Dodgers know what type of player Mejia is, so they might want someone else to be included in the trade. I’m also operating under the impression that Sterling isn’t apart of this trade scenario, so the additional player added might not need to be a high-end prospect or even a middle-tier prospect.
However, if the Royals can trade Mejia and potentially another prospect with potential to the Dodgers for Pederson, and then extend Pederson, this could accelerate the rebuild path the Royals are currently on. Pederson could be the Royals’ everyday left fielder in the future, and the power ability he has makes him a flashy player that can bring excitement to the fans in Kansas City.
With new ownership, this type of trade could not only re-energize and motivate fans to go to games but with the potential new playoff rules Pederson greatly helps increase the KC Royals’ chances of capitalizing on those rule changes. And even if the rules don’t change, Pederson still accelerates the rebuild and pushes it in the right direction.
I’ll also include this. Excluding the Arbitration and Team Control salaries, the Royals are only on the hook for roughly $37 million in 2021. Meaning, they will have plenty of money to pay Pederson his extension. The only part that will be tricky is finding the players necessary to get Pederson from the Dodgers. But they’ve already shown a willingness to trade Pederson, and if I’m Sherman I am making a call and figuring out what it will really take. At this point, it would have to be extremely one-sided for me to say no to any Pederson trade.
What do you think, KC Royals Nation? Would you make a trade for Pederson? Do the Royals have the pieces to get the trade done? Let us know below!