Why the KC Royals won’t trade Adalberto Mondesi…yet

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The discussion is one the KC Royals don’t particularly want to have but, considering their complicated infield situation, pitching needs, and right field vacancy, one they probably can’t avoid.

Should they trade, or try to trade, Adalberto Mondesi?

The question is legitimate, the answer elusive. Mondesi is a five-tool talent whose potential remains unrealized, the victim of the injuries that seem to thwart him at every turn. Absent his extensive and well-chronicled injury history, which unfortunately includes shoulder issues, oblique problems, and an assortment of other maladies, Mondesi might today be indispensable to the Royals.

But those injuries have stolen so much of his playing time since he debuted in the 2015 World Series that Mondesi is dispensable. The notion of trading him is no longer unthinkable or unspeakable.

Or without merit.

The Royals have needs. Their rotation is no less questionable than it was before the 2021 season began, or the season before that. Long and middle relief must be bolstered. Right field is a question mark. Dealing Mondesi for solutions to those problems makes more sense than it ever has.

And before long, the left side of Kansas City’s infield may become uncomfortably crowded. The anxiously-awaited arrival of Bobby Witt Jr. is imminent, Nicky Lopez deserves and needs an everyday role, and Whit Merrifield will again man second base unless the Royals decide to plug him into right field. Trading Mondesi, the club’s shortstop until injuries sidelined him for most of last season, could relieve the congestion and reap a valuable pitcher or outfielder in return.

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But don’t look for a trade involving Mondesi…at least not in the near future.

The KC Royals won’t think trade until the results of an offseason program are in.

The legitimate knock on Mondesi is his lack of durability. He is, for whatever reason or reasons, injury-prone, so much so that then General Manager, now President of Baseball Operations Dayton Moore conceded during the season the Royals can’t view him as an everyday player.

Whether that assessment is permanent remains to be seen, and could hinge on how Mondesi responds to a new multi-faceted offseason training program this winter targeting his endurance, body and, of course, hitting.

Given the uncertainties of the MLB lockout, how long Mondesi’s offseason work will last is anyone’s guess. And because he and the club can’t have any contact until the lockout ends, Kansas City brass probably won’t know how the plan is working for a long while. In any event, however, the Royals won’t seriously consider trading Mondesi until they know the results.

Adalberto Mondesi could become a super-utility player for the KC Royals.

Even if, as Dayton Moore believed a few months ago, Mondesi can’t play every day, he might fill an important role for Kansas City, one enabling the club to exploit his formidable skills.

He has the potential to rival Whit Merrifield as a versatile utility player. Although he’s best known as a shortstop, he’s played a fifth of his 335 big league games at second base, and the Royals tried him at third in 20 of the 35 games he managed to play last season. He probably has the speed, range and arm to play anywhere in the outfield. And he can certainly DH, pinch hit and pinch run.

Ideally, such a role would extend beyond the typical parameters of a reserve player—instead, and as long as he’s healthy, Kansas City could play Mondesi frequently, spelling others in the field and serving regularly as DH.

The Royals would be wise to try him in such a job.

Mondesi’s talent will be difficult for the KC Royals to walk away from.

Few doubt Adalberto Mondesi’s potential or talent. His arm is strong, his glove stellar, his speed elite. He can hit and, although he doesn’t do it often, hit with considerable power.

It’s his inability to stay healthy for repeatedly long stretches that tempts people to urge trading Mondesi. But talent, especially when manifested in spectacular ways, is hard to abandon for any reason, and the Royals’ reluctance to move Mondesi’s skills is understandable.

Take, for example, Mondesi’s torrid September two seasons ago. He slashed .356/.408/.667 with six homers and 20 RBIs in 24 games; no one lucks into those numbers at the big league level. (He also led the majors in steals that year).

So, Kansas City, a team famous for unwavering loyalty and commitment to its players, won’t be trading Mondesi anytime soon. Not unless the return is too much to turn down, and that’s not likely.

The major league market may not be ripe for a good Adalberto Mondesi deal.

The timing isn’t right for a suitable Mondesi trade. His injury history, and the fact he missed almost all of last season, significantly increase other clubs’ risks of acquisition and make it unlikely the Royals could realize a return for Mondesi they’d deem sufficient. There may be exceptions to that analysis—after all, the Royals managed to trade Danny Duffy to the Dodgers last July when he was on the injured List—but LA gave up only a minor leaguer, and that won’t be enough to convince Kansas City to give up Mondesi.

The current market, then, probably won’t yet drive a Mondesi deal Kansas City can live with.

Next. August brought some stability to KC. dark

The Royals might trade Adalberto Mondesi, but it won’t happen soon.