KC Royals Trades: 3 likely deadline deal candidates

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KC Royals, Scott Barlow
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The time might be right for the KC Royals to deal away their closer.

A certain school of thought holds that good closers should be traded before their exchange value peaks. The fact they’re so easy to find, so the thinking goes, makes them easily expendable.

If that’s the case, Kansas City’s Scott Barlow may find himself on the trading block as August nears. Now 29 (30 in December) and pitching in his fifth big league season, Barlow is on pace for his best campaign ever. His 1.71 ERA is .71 better than the 2.42 career best he posted last year and he’s converted five of six save opportunities for a club that doesn’t offer many such chances. He also boasts a 1.05 WHIP and .203 OBA.

Barlow’s current numbers and continuing success (he saved 16 games in 2021) makes him an attractive trade target. Contending teams covet excellent relievers when July turns to August and each game increases in significance. Clubs will call and the Royals will probably listen.

They can afford to. Josh Staumont usually gets the closing assignments Barlow doesn’t and has three saves and, like Barlow, a 2-1 record. He’s struck out 27 in 18.2 innings. Gabe Speier and Collin Snider are also closer possibilities.

The Royals should be closely watching Triple-A Omaha relievers Arodys Vizcaíno, who they picked up in January, and Jose Cuas, who they acquired last year. Vizcaino has seven saves and a 1.76 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 15.1 innings and Cuas has three saves and a 1.74 ERA in 20 appearances.

Reduced fastball velocity may be the only knock on Barlow—per Baseball Savant, his four-seamer is down 2.5 mph this season—but that they keep using him and he remains effective suggests it’s not a concern for the Royals.

Will the club deal Barlow, or hang on to him in hopes that it returns to contention next year? Time will tell, but moving him wouldn’t be a shock.

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If anything, the Royals will be sellers this summer. Among other Kansas City players, Andrew Benintendi, Zack Greinke and Scott Barlow are likely trade candidates.