KC Royals GM addresses 'aggressive' plans ahead of MLB trade deadline

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The upstart 2024 KC Royals are one of the most surprising winning clubs at this point in the season, sitting well above the .500 benchmark. That surprise, coupled with the team's young core, has the Royals primed to be a buyer at the trade deadline. With less than two months seperating today and the July 30 deadline, Kansas City is already looking to where they can improve. This isn't speculation. This is from the man himself, Royals executive vice president and general manager J.J. Picollo.

The KC Royals have a clear path and priorities ahead of the MLB trade deadline.

Picollo began overseeing Kansas City's baseball operations on Sept. 21, 2022, making 2024 only his second trade deadline while leading the charge. In a recent interview with New York Post reporters Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman, Picollo clarified the outfield and bullpen are the two primary areas the Royals are looking to improve.

"I do think there are some guys that are clearly underperforming in the outfield that can impact our offense. The nice thing is our offense is performing pretty well as a whole so we've been able to sustain that a little bit. But long-term that may be an area we have to address."

J.J. Picollo

He is not wrong, in saying the offense is producing despite the outfield's struggles. There is no immediate solution for Kansas City to rely on, with Drew Waters' recent struggles and MJ Melendez fading fast in May. There is still plenty of baseball ahead, but the Royals do lack a quick fix or reliable one in 2025 and beyond.

Picollo pivoted to the bullpen, while pointing to several arms Kansas City acquired this offseason.

"We'd like some of the guys that we signed, Will Smith, Chris Stratton, we trade for [John] Schreiber, Nick Anderson. It has been an up-and-down start to the season for them. But we know that they will rebound, they are veterans. In the back end of our bullpen, we’re not striking a lot of guys out, so that’s an area that we have to look at for sure. "

J.J. Picollo

Kansas City's rotation hid the bullpen's shortcomings for much of the season so far, but recent games have exposed that weakness further. As of June 4, the Royals bullpen's 4.44 ERA ranks 25th among MLB teams, while they also rank last in strikeout and swinging strike rate. Kansas City's offseason relief signings have not panned out, but they are all on short-term deals. Pitcher James McArthur looks vulnerable as well, leaving a long-term, high-leverage role open in Kansas City.

Overall, the real question is when will Kansas City pull the trade trigger? Picollo traded away reliever Aroldis Chapman relatively early last year, so Royals fans may be waiting with bated breath. Thankfully, Picollo did not beat around the bush on what the team's priorities are this trade deadline.

"We're in the beginning stages of [evaluating trades]. A lot of teams right now are trying to figure out where they are. Where we are on June 1 may not be where we are on July 1, but if we are, we'll be aggressive. We know that teams get motivated when you add something to the club when you're in a race. We have a lot of guys committed to Kansas City because they want to win. We aren't going to turn our backs on them because they made the commitment to us."

J.J. Picollo

This sets a great bar for Royals fans, especially if the team maintains their winning ways. Kansas City may be ahead of the though postseason-contention timeline, but Picollo does not seem scared to add ahead of the trade deadline. Kansas City doesn't have a stocked farm system, but proved this year they can turn prospects into proven contributors. There is a ton of time between now and the trade deadline, but this organization is not sitting back when it comes to improving the roster.

Watch the interview on The Show podcast with Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman.

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