Necessary change appears to be coming to the KC Royals.
According to reports surfacing this evening, including one confirming the move from MLB.com KC beat writer Anne Rogers (Twitter link), Kansas City center fielder Michael A. Taylor is being traded to Minnesota for minor league relief pitchers Evan Sisk and Steven Cruz.
Don't expect Sisk and Cruz, neither of whom has pitched in the majors, (more on them in a moment) to immediately contribute at the big league level. Instead, the short-term gain for the Royals is important, and one we advocated for in this space just Sunday night: moving Taylor enables the club to get better and longer looks at young outfielders who figure in its plans far longer than Taylor who, playing out the last year of his contract, probably would have been moved no later than this season's trade deadline.
Although the Royals are losing a fine defensive center fielder (Taylor won his only Gold Glove two seasons ago in his first campaign with the Royals), with him gone manager Matt Quatraro can, as early as spring training, give more playing time in center to Drew Waters and Kyle Isbel, the two internal candidates most likely to win the Opening Day job there.
And the deal has other collateral consequences: it saves the club $4.5 million, Taylor's 2023 base salary and, as we pointed out Sunday, Edward Olivares, probably facing a season critical to his KC future, should get more time in right field this spring as Waters and Isbel work in center.
What's the return for the KC Royals in today's Michael A. Taylor trade?
In exchange for Taylor, Kansas City picks up lefthander Sisk and righthander Cruz, a pair of relievers who have excellent shots at beginning the 2023 season at Triple-A Omaha.
Sisk is, at least so far, the more accomplished of the two. Chosen by St. Louis in the 16th round of the 2018 amateur draft and dealt by the Cardinals to the Twins in a 2021 trade deadline move that sent veteran major league starter J.A. Happ to St. Louis, Sisk is 11-8 with a 2.69 ERA in 150 minor league appearances, all but one of which has been in relief.
Sisk, who'll turn 26 in April, split last season between Double-A Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul, going 3-0, 0.95 in 19 games for the former club and 2-1, 2.08 in 31 appearances for the latter. Although he tends to walk more batters than is ideal (4.42 career BB/9), he owns a nice 10.23 K/9. Should KC start him at Omaha, a good showing with the Storm Chasers could land him in Kansas City this season.
Like Sisk, Cruz, 24 in June, hasn't climbed past Double-A ball. He spend all of last season at Wichita where he went 1-4, 5.14 in 46 games and struck out 72 in 56 innings. He's 11-9, 4.07 over five minor league campaigns; his career 12.12 K/9 is excellent, but his 6.04 BB/9 proves he needs some work. Look for him to begin this season at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, then move up to Omaha if he can get his control in check.
The Royals have traded Michael A. Taylor.