Many scoffed when the KC Royals signed free agent reliever Trevor Rosenthal four years ago. Fittingly viewed as another of the club's reclamation projects, the deal brought to Kansas City a once-excellent closer fallen on hard times — after saving 45 games for St. Louis in 2014 and 48 in 2015, Rosenthal's performance declined and he suffered a UCL injury in 2017, underwent corrective surgery, and missed all of 2018.
Released by the Cardinals after the 2018 campaign, he returned to the game in 2019 but gave up 24 runs in the 15.1 innings he split between Washington and Detroit.
Yet there Rosenthal was in Kansas City's spring camp, working his way back to form when COVID-19 forced baseball's spring shutdown in 2020. And when the game reopened in July in the form of an abbreviated 60-game season, Rosenthal quickly went about the serious business of becoming the Royals' newest closer.
So good at the job was Rosenthal that he'd successfully converted all seven of his save opportunities, and given up runs in only four of his 14 appearances, when the Royals traded him to contending San Diego at the trade deadline for Edward Olivares and, subsequently, reliever Dylan Coleman as the deal's player to be named later.
Rosenthal helped the Padres to the postseason; injuries have kept him out of action since, although he may be ready for another comeback.
And what of Coleman and Olivares, the return the Royals realized for sending Rosenthal West?
Now, Olivares is off the Kansas City roster.
Edward Olivares is on his way to Pittsburgh
Olivares, who's played in the Royals' outfield for parts of every season since the Rosenthal deal, appears headed for a return to the National League — per the club's official website transaction log and as reported by MLB.com Royals beat writer Anne Rogers, he's been traded to the Pirates for minor leaguer Deivis Nadal.
Nagal, 21, hasn't played above A ball since turning pro in 2019, a fact which, combined with his .228 four-season minor league average, makes the reported deal look much like the 40-man roster spot opener that it probably is for Kansas City. The Royals needed to clear a 40-man slot for newly-acquired reliever Chris Stratton and, after they brought outfielder Hunter Renfroe aboard Friday, Olivares became a logical choice for odd-man-out.
Olivares simply hadn't laid solid claim to a spot in Kansas City's outfield. Yes, he managed a serviceable .265 in almost 220 games, and hit 12 homers with a .263 average this year. But his glove was his nemesis during his four-season tenure with the franchise. Too often was Olivares a defensive liability — per FanGraphs, his career outfield DRS is -21, and his career .971 fielding percentage speaks for itself.
Unfortunately, what may be most remembered about Olivares as a Royal is the frequent traveling he did in 2021, when eight times the club called him up from Triple-A Omaha only to send him back down.
Deivis Nadal is on his way to the KC Royals
Nadal is who Pittsburgh is giving up to get Olivares. He's a slender 6-foot, 150-pounder who's played everywhere in the outfield and every infield position but first base since debuting in the Dominican Summer League during the 2019 season. That remains his best professional campaign — he hit .294 with a .394 OBP and drove in 29 runs in 54 games.
But he hit only .165 in 36 Florida Complex League games in 2021, just .218 at Single-A Bradenton in 2022, and only .212 at Bradenton this year. He does have speed, however, and stole 33 bases in 2023.
So, Nadal has a long way to go. Don't be surprised if Kansas City starts him at Single-A Columbia next season.