Over 60 years have passed since the Philadelphia Athletics’ move to Kansas City forced the Yankees to shift their KC minor league club to Denver. The changes didn’t disrupt player movement between New York and Kansas City, though, as the A’s engaged in a series of trades infamously favorable to the Yanks. But when Charlie Finley moved his Athletics to Oakland and the KC Royals replaced them, the Yankee-friendly pipeline ended.
That doesn’t mean the franchises won’t do business. The results just aren’t lopsided anymore. In fact, the Yankees might be scrutinizing a few Royals when the teams begin a three-game series Tuesday night in the Bronx—New York is still contending while Kansas City looks more and more like a seller as the July 30 trade deadline nears.
The Yanks sorely needs an outfielder or two. Center fielder Aaron Hicks (wrist) is likely out for the season, and Yankee veteran Brett Gardner’s two home runs, eight RBIs and .212 average leave the club unsatisfied. The situation is similar in left, where Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier aren’t providing the production New York needs.
And like any other big league team, the Yankees could use a decent starting pitcher.
Their need for outfield help will tempt the Yankees to call the KC Royals.
The most pressing Yankee need is the outfield. Given their pick of Royals, his .283 average, .340 OBP and eight homers would certainly attract the Yanks to Andrew Benintendi, but his recent rib fracture means New York won’t be particularly interested.
Instead, expect the Yankees to check in on Whit Merrifield and his 40 RBIs, .274 average, and major league-leading 20 steals (he’s been caught only once). And Merrifield’s status as the most effectively versatile player in baseball today—he’s efficient and productive in any outfield slot and second base—makes him an ideal Yankee fit.
The Royals, though, aren’t trading Merrifield unless a return package is too phenomenal to pass up, and that’s not coming from New York.
Might another KC outfielder be of interest?