Who are 3 realistic KC Royals trade targets at third base?

Kansas City may not go all-in this trade deadline, but third base needs some reinforcements.
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The KC Royals are toying around at the hot corner, and the eye test says the intial results are not good.

Maikel Garcia, the 2024 Opening Day third baseman, has remained elite in the field, ranking sixth among all MLB third basemen in terms of Outs Above Average. He may be well above average at third, but he is well below average with a bat in his hand. His .227/.281/.335 line and 71 wRC+ are notable regressions from his 2023 production, and Garcia batting leadoff only exacerbates the problem.

Garcia's offensive void is more similar to that of a batter who should be batting seventh or eighth, not first. Despite that, manager Matt Quatraro is finding ways to keep Garcia in the lineup, now deploying him at second base. Garcia has middle infield experience and familial ties to seek advice from. But that opens up a platoon of CJ Alexander and Nick Loftin at third. Unfortunately, neither player is running away with the job in July.

The KC Royals now have a problem at third base.

Alexander only has eight at-bats to his name, making his MLB debut back on June 24. He finally recorded his first hit in The Show, but he has a lot to prove before I consider him more than a depth or platoon piece. Meanwhile, Loftin has been shaky at the plate since returning to Kansas City, but Quatraro is placing him in the leadoff spot in Garcia's sted occasionally.

Garcia's move to second, with Michael Massey's long-term outlook in doubt, feels like it could stick longer than fans would like. Kansas City's head athletic trainer described Massey's back injuries as "unpredictable" after the lefty landed twice on the IL with a lower-back-related issue this season alone. If Garcia is going to get more play at second base, then Kansas City needs to find an everyday third baseman, plain and simple.

The Royals are in the thick of the Wild Card hunt and should act accordingly at this trade deadline. But, while they won't be all in for Luis Robert or any other headline trade target, there are some quality options. Here are my ideal third-base targets that remain within reach for Kansas City.

1. Luis Rengifo

Luis Rengifo
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The Royals should already be calling the Los Angeles Angels about closer Carlos Estevez. Why not add infielder Luis Rengifo to the list? 

The 27-year-old is quietly one of Los Angeles' best bats, slashing .315/.358/.442 through 69 games this season. He is outperforming some of his expected statistics, but even those marks are a notable improvement from any internal option Kansas City has. Additionally, Rengifo is under team control through 2025, another valuable trait.

He would be another versatile option for the Royals, logging innings at shortstop, second base, and the outfield this season. Now, the Venezuelan did exit a July 3 game with a wrist injury, causing concern for his availability. Any sort of injury would likely hurt his trade stock and affect his 2024 impact. That aspect is something every buyer on this trade deadline should be aware of, including Kansas City.

2. Brendan Donovan

Brendan Donovan
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This scenario takes the St. Louis Cardinals out of the playoff picture, but they are on the verge of being sold. I am not a Cardinals fan by any stretch, but if they make Brendan Donovan available, that should pique Kansas City's interest.

The 27-year-old has done nothing but produce in his three MLB seasons, accruing 5.8 fWAR across 301 career games. He is having another solid year for the Cardinals, recording a 116 wRC+ while batting all over their lineup. Most of his 2024 plate appearances are in the leadoff spot, so jumping into that role for the Royals wouldn't be a massive leap.

The left-handed batter also plays all over the field, playing both corner bases and outfield spots competently. Donovan would be expensive, remaining under team control until 2028. He is also peaking at the right time, with an excellent month of June. All of that combined may make him too rich for the Royals' blood, but you never know.

3. Isiah Kiner-Falefa

Isiah Kiner-Falefa
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A former Gold Glove winner at third base? Check.
Under contract through next season? Check.
Recent postseason experience? Check. 

If the Toronto Blue Jays lean more into their seller status, Kansas City will have plenty of players to check out. But none may feel more like a perfect fit and an immediate impact player like Isiah Kiner-Falefa. 

The 29-year-old has split time at second and third this season, with 40 and 39 games, respectively. Either way, his glove and above-average bat have the former Yankees castoff with 2.0 fWAR already in 2024. There are some concerns about how long he can keep up his 117 wRC+ this season, but he is undoubtedly producing at the plate.

Like Rengifo, Kiner-Falefa just found himself with an injury concern. Toronto placed him on the 10-day IL Tuesday with a sprained left knee. If the medicals check out ahead of the trade deadline, he should still be on the move, albeit for a slightly less rich return package. Could Kansas City capitalize on this?

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