3 big mistakes the KC Royals should not make...but might

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The KC Royals should resist any temptation to trade closer Scott Barlow.

Former Kansas City manager Mike Matheny rarely referred to his closer as "closer." But in 2021, when he earned his seventh save Aug. 18 to tie Greg Holland for the team lead, then passed Holland three games later, it was beginning to look like Scott Barlow, even absent Matheny's regular acknowledgment, was becoming the Royals' closer.

Barlow went on to save 16 games to Holland's eight that season, and removed any doubt about his claim to the closer's role by saving a career-high 24 in 2022. His fine 2.18 ERA was his second straight sub-3.00 ERA (he finished at 2.42 in 2021), and he dipped below a 1.00 WHIP for the first time with a 0.996. He walked fewer than three batters per nine innings (2.7) and averaged over nine strikeouts per nine frames (9.3)

In short, Barlow was excellent. The Royals probably could have dealt him away for prospects at the trade deadline, but didn't, perhaps suggesting a lack of desire to move their closer.

Now, in the middle of baseball's trade season, there's little doubt Kansas City could net a nice return for Barlow. But trading him is something to which management shouldn't give much thought. After all, he's one of the best closers in the game and probably the most reliable pitcher on the roster. The team also controls Barlow for two more seasons; he isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2024 campaign.

Some claim good closers are easy to find. Others say they're easy to develop from long or middle reliever, or even starter, stock. But Barlow is proven inventory, the most valuable bullpen piece Kansas City has, and a pitcher who gets better every year.

The Royals have one of the shallowest and shakiest pitching staffs in the big leagues. They need every good hurler they can get. They might deal Barlow at some point, but this isn't the time.

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Kansas City shouldn't sign Mike Moustakas or trade Nicky Lopez or Scott Barlow.