RHP David Bednar
Reason for this trade: Answer the closer questions for 2024 and beyond.
The Royals spent plenty of their resources this offseason bolstering the bullpen. Will Smith's return, coupled with Nick Anderson and Chris Stratton, should be a big upgrade for Kansas City. The team looks to have a closer-by-committee approach in 2024, with Smith, James McArthur, and John McMillon all factoring into the equation. But, on paper, this team lacks a proper closer, one that can go out in high-leverage situations and deliver nine times out of ten. If Kansas City wants to make a big splash, Pittsburgh Pirates reliever David Bednar would give them a top-five closer in baseball.
Bednar, an All-Star in 2022 and 2023, led the MLB with 39 saves last season in Pittsburgh. He revitalized his career after moving from the San Diego Padres to the Pirates after the 2020 season and hasn't looked back. He played in 66 games and pitched for a total of 67.1 innings. During that time, he gave up 53 hits, 22 runs (15 of which were earned), and three home runs. He also maintained a low number of walks, with an average of 2.81 walks per nine innings, while striking out 80 batters.
He has been the guy for a losing Pirates franchise, a la Scot Barlow during his Kansas City peak. The Pirates are paying Bednar well in 2024, but his status with the team remains questionable beyond that. They added former Royals reliever Aroldis Chapman to the bullpen alongside Bednar, a running mate Chapman is excited to work with.
Pittsburgh doesn't have to move Bednar by any stretch and may opt to move him at the trade deadline. The Royals, or any team interested in acquiring Bednar, would have to offer a very enticing trade package that Pittsburgh would find difficult to refuse. The Pirates are the betting favorite to finish last in the NL Central this year, but the organization may want to see how the season starts before moving Bednar.
Kansas City should at least inquire about Bednar's status. Although they would have to give up valuable assets in a trade, acquiring Bednar would greatly enhance their bullpen and significantly improve their chances of success in 2024.