3 KC Royals who won’t survive on 40-man roster past MLB trade deadline

Kansas City has some transparent needs this coming trade deadline. Could these players help their trade chases?
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OF Drew Waters

The switch-hitting outfielder made his Royals debut in 2024 on June 11, replacing outfielder Hunter Renfroe on the 26-man roster. Waters only had five plate appearances, yet he gave Royals fans a tantalizing glimpse of his MLB outlook's potential, evoking excitement and frustration.

First, let's get to the good stuff. Waters' first hit this season came on Thursday in a pure hustle play, where he dove into first base for a hit. The base proved crucial as Kansas City staged a dramatic walk-off comeback victory to evade the sweep, adding to the intensity of the moment. Earlier that same game, he flashed his patented arm in right field for an outfield assist. It isn't much, but Waters' six asssits last season tied for the eighth-most among all AL right fielders. Renfroe's saving grace in the field is his arm, so Waters reminding fans of his own cannon was promising.

Now, on to the frustration. I cannot get past his swing decisions in his limited action. It can certainly be attributed to MLB return jitters. However, this has been a persistent issue throughout Waters' entire MLB career, especially in Triple-A this season. It is easy to point to his production across 50 games in Omaha and turn a blind eye to his plate approach. A lot of players want a 277/.350/.484 line with seven home runs, 33 RBI, and 14 multi-hit efforts. But he did all that while striking out 26.6% of the time, and he saw that rate rise as the season progressed.

The Kansas City outfield is a liability at the plate. Waters had a solid bat at Triple-A, flashing the talent that made him a top prospect in the Atlanta Braves system. Yet, the Royals struggled to carve out a niche or defined role for him until circumstances demanded one. All indications suggest that Waters falls short of being the outfield cornerstone we had envisioned after the 2022 season.

If he falls short, then Kansas City must strike while Waters' iron is hot, seizing the opportunity for major action. By trading Waters along with one or two other prospects, Kansas City could secure a game-changing outfielder or even an elite bullpen arm, depending on their priority.

Waters still has untapped potential at 25, but Kansas City has missed prime trade opportunities for the sake of said potential. Picollo could once again prove he is different than his predecessor by moving Waters in a bigger move ahead of the trade deadline.