Trading reliever Scott Barlow could net the KC Royals some good prospects.
The trade deadline market for relievers has been growing in recent years. Teams have been willing to pay up for effective relief arms to lock down games down the stretch and into the postseason.
In Scott Barlow, the Royals have one of the best relievers in the game—he’s 3-2 with 13 saves and a 2.33 ERA in 35 games this season and, in 2021, ranked high among American League relievers:
- 5th in fWAR (2.1)
- 10th in ERA (2.42)
- 7th in FIP (2.63)
- 18th in SO9 (11.02)
- 23rd in Wins (5)
Barlow also comes with two years of club control. He isn’t set to hit free agency until after the 2024 season.
Deals from last season’s deadline trades provide an idea of what Barlow’s value might be this year. For example, the White Sox acquired Craig Kimbrel from the Cubs for Nick Madrigal and Cody Heuer, who both went to the Cubs with multiple years of control.
The Braves acquired reliever Richard Rodriguez from Pittsburgh for Bryse Wilson and Ricky DeVito. Rodriguez had a 2.82 ERA and two additional years of club control. Wilson didn’t rank on any top prospect lists but headed to the Pirates as a young (23) former fourth-round draft pick.
The Brewers got reliever John Curtiss from the Marlins for Payton Henry. Curtiss was a year younger and had more club control (four years) than Barlow now. Curtiss owned a 2.22 ERA over 65 innings and Henry was slashing .297/.372/.390 between Double-A and Triple-A.
So, last year’s deadline deals suggest relievers can, and do, bring notable returns.