The KC Royals had a stellar trade record this season. The team received young contributors like James McArthur and Nelson Velazquez, plus probable Opening Day 2024 starter Cole Ragans. It is hard to be mad about the team's acquisitions and moves. Well, other than the Nicky Lopez trade.
This deal remains a black eye on the KC Royals 2023 trade deadline moves.
The Royals traded the veteran infielder to the NL East's Atlanta Braves in exchange for reliever Taylor Hearn. The move elicited an immediate negative reaction, considering Lopez's fan-favorite status. He wasn't a franchise cornerstone, but Royals fans loved Lopez for his attitude and strong defense.
Now, Braves fans love Lopez for helping out one of the league's best teams. Austin Owens of House That Hank Built gave the trade a perfect A+ grade in his re-grading of the team's 2023 trade deadline moves.
"Atlanta made the right decision making this move and it's curious why the Royals let him go for so little, with all due respect to Taylor Hearn. However, Lopez has been absolutely what the Braves hoped he would be."- Austin Owens, House That Hank Built
The move has aged nearly two months later. Lopez has thrived with the Braves, recording a .293 batting average and his first home run since 2021. Plus, he has appeared in every infield position for the Braves and gives Atlanta valuable versatility.
Meanwhile, Hearn has struggled to find consistency out of the bullpen for the Royals. He only has 7 2/3 innings for the Royals this season, giving up seven earned runs in that span. His last MLB appearance was nearly a month ago, on Aug. 28 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
These two players are trending in very different directions, with Hearn going the wrong way. Fans of Lopez, no matter his team, will enjoy seeing his trademark smile and positivity from the Braves dugout in postseason action.
The Braves are currently the top seed in the National League and are poised to make a deep playoff run. Lopez may not have the same impact as Atlanta's litany of All-Star players, but he is a positive addition to the contender.