KC Royals Rumors: Kansas City reportedly looking for 'closer' in trade market

Kirby Lee/GettyImages

The KC Royals are less than a month away from reporting to Arizona, and the 40-man roster feels very set. There were additions and improvements in every facet of the roster, especially with the rotation. But general manager J.J. Picollo may not be done. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic posited ($) that the Royals may look for a closer look at the trade market.

Why are the KC Royals looking for more bullpen help via trade?

The suggestion is not as crazy as it sounds. The Royals did add plenty of bullpen arms this offseason. They signed World Series champions Will Smith and Chris Stratton while acquiring Nick Anderson via trade. Couple these acquisitions with the returning relievers, and the bullpen seems fairly set.

But, after years of expecting steady progression from young players, Kansas City has seemingly learned their lesson. Most of the true closing options are nonexistent on the free agent market. The Texas Rangers scooped up David Robertson Thursday evening, leaving lackluster options like Ryan Brasier, Hector Neris, and Jesse Chavez for the picking.

The trade market is far from bursting with possibilities either. The Royals lack prospect value to swing for players like Emmanuel Clase, David Bednar, or Devin Williams. They could pursue relievers like Kyle Finnegan, Kenley Jansen, or Dylan Floro, but none are perfect or feel like immediate improvements.

Frankly, the Royals' closer to starting the 2024 season should be Smith. Apart from his World Series-winning pedigree, he has the chops and experience to succeed in high-leverage situations. His 64 saves since 2020 are the 13th most among MLB relievers, racking up 22 in 2023. The 34-year-old is not a long-term solution, but good enough for his one-year, $5 million contract.

The Royals are not hedging their bets on players like John McArthur and John McMillon, relievers who flashed but still have to prove themselves across a season. McArthur was electric to close out 2023, with no runs allowed and 19 strikeouts across 12 September appearances. He, alongside Smith, should have the inside edge on a closer job, but spring training will give Royals fans more insight soon.