The KC Royals made their first deal of the trade deadline season two weeks ago when they shipped Carlos Santana to Seattle. Moving Santana, a veteran playing out his contract, was expected.
What the club did earlier today was, however, out of the blue, a transaction that doesn’t seem to have been on anyone’s radar.
But it could be huge for Kansas City.
The KC Royals have acquired Atlanta’s No. 1 prospect and two other players.
The Royals shored up their organizational outfield depth by landing Drew Waters, the Braves’ No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline. Atlanta drafted Waters, now 23, in the second round of the 2017 amateur draft, and he was the regular center fielder at Triple-A Gwinnett when Kansas City announced the deal (Twitter link).
The Royals also picked up starting pitcher Andrew Hoffmann and infielder CJ Alexander.
What did it take to get three Atlanta prospects? Kansas City gave the Braves its Competitive Balance pick in this year’s draft, which means the Royals won’t have the 35th overall selection.
Waters is the biggest “get” in today’s deal; rarely do teams move their top prospect at the trade deadline, especially when doing so doesn’t reap them immediate help for a current stretch run.
But that’s just what the Braves did.
Waters, who was slashing .246/.305/.393 in 49 games at Gwinnett (he spent most of April on the Injured List with a hamstring injury), has impressive career minor league numbers, including a five-season .280 average and .343 OBP. He hasn’t displayed great power, but did club 11 homers in 103 games at Gwinnett last season. The Royals immediately placed him on their 40-man roster and assigned him to Triple-A Omaha.
Hoffmann, ranked by MLB Pipeline before today’s transaction as the Braves’ 23rd best prospect, was 7-2 with a 2.36 ERA, 10.1 SO9, and 2.4 BB9 at High-A Rome. He’ll join the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Kansas City’s Double-A affiliate.
Third baseman Alexander has also played first and in the outfield during three seasons in the minors. He was hitting .258 with 15 homers at Double-A Mississippi and had 10 home runs there last year. Like Hoffmann, he’ll report to Northwest Arkansas.
What does today’s transaction mean for the KC Royals in the short term?
Barring injuries to any of Kansas City’s current outfielders, or trade deadline deals involving more than the highly-anticipated move of Andrew Benintendi, this trade won’t have an immediate impact at the big league level. Waters’ current numbers suggest he needs a bit more time at Triple-A, and Hoffmann and Alexander have no experience there at all, although Hoffmann could, considering the shakiness of Kansas City’s rotation, advance to Kauffman Stadium later this season if he continues to enjoy the kind of success he’s having now.
And what of the loss of that 35th pick in next week’s draft? The Royals shouldn’t miss it—they won’t get a shot at another new prospect, but today’s deal gives them three who are far closer to the majors than a Competitive Balance selection would be.
Kansas City acquired three good prospects, all of whom bear watching, in a trade with Atlanta.