Recent years haven't been kind to the KC Royals. They've lost at least 100 games in three of the last five full seasons, are on their second manager since Ned Yost retired after the 2019 campaign, and their pitching has been particularly bad.
But the franchise's many problems aren't limited to the major league level. The farm system, more than once an area of high praise and productivity, is now the regular target of baseball pundits who consistently rank it far below average and slam it for poor player development.
That doesn't mean, though, that the organization is devoid of valuable prospects. The club can count at least a few truly high-value players among its various minor league affiliates; some are destined to reach Kansas City, while others could be shopped and traded to fill pressing needs.
Let's have a look at three notable prospects the Royals should consider moving this winter to obtain immediate help.
Kansas City should give serios thought to shopping Ángel Zerpa
Yes, Ángel Zerpa finished the 2023 campaign on the Royals' major league roster and has spent parts of three seasons in Kansas City. But with only 19 big league appearances on his resume, he's still classified as a rookie and, as such, should still be considered a prospect.
And not a bad one at that. Evidence of Zerpa's good control lies in his 1.84 short-career BB/9. His 1.19 WHIP is good. And his 5-5 record and 3.84 ERA could be much worse. (He's currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League and is 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA, nine strikeouts, and five walks in 8.1 innings.
Given those decent numbers, it may seem foolhardy to think of Zerpa as trade material. But the Royals desperately need to add an established major leaguer (or two) to their rocky and shallow starting rotation; sometimes teams must trade good prospects to get proven big leaguers.
The next trade candidate may really surprise you...