With 59 games left before their distressing season ends, only one important date remains on the KC Royals' calendar—Aug. 1, the drop-dead day for major league trades. Any deals not completed by 5 p.m. CDT Tuesday can't be made until the trade market reopens a day after the World Series ends.
So far, the Royals' silence borders on deafening. Trading Aroldis Chapman is the only move they've made and, as of this writing, no confirmed or strong rumors suggest any specific deals are close to consummation.
But could the club's relative inactivity be the calm before the storm? Might the Royals have a blockbuster in the works?
Hardly. And here's why.
The KC Royals won't be major players on the midsummer big league trade market
Unless the Royals fulfill most expectations and trade Scott Barlow (more on him in a moment), shipping Chapman to Texas for pitcher Cole Ragans and outfielder Roni Cabrera is probably the biggest transaction they'll be a part of. They have trade pieces with which they could put together a blockbuster deal, but those pieces won't be moved.
Take Bobby Witt Jr., for example. Trading Witt, and only Witt, would be a blockbuster in and of itself, not because of the stellar overall season he isn't having (yes, he he's homered 16 times and will likely steal at least 40 bases, but he's hitting only .253 with a subpar .294 OBP), but instead because his potential is so great and he's still considered the closest thing this team has to a long-term "franchise player".
How about Salvador Perez, then? Moving the eight-time All-Star, Gold Glove-amassing team captain, and current club cornerstone would certainly qualify as a blockbuster.
Expressions of belief that Perez should be shopped and dealt before the MLB trade deadline passes abound on baseball social media accounts, but not many observers seem to harbor serious thoughts that he'll be moved. Royal history suggests the franchise won't trade a club and city icon unless a deal involves too massive a return to turn down. But coupled with his tendency to suffer nagging injuries, his recent struggles at the plate may make other clubs reluctant to pull the trigger on a straight-up Perez deal.
KC general manager J.J. Picollo could, of course, offer other teams a combined Witt-Perez package, but that kind of deal is more unlikely than trading one or the other by themselves.
Simply put, Witt and Perez are staying put.
Then there's Barlow, who the Royals ought to be willing to move and who Kings of Kauffman's Jacob Milham recently and reasonably projected could be headed to the Dodgers, Reds, or Brewers. Dealing away Barlow, though, isn't what most KC fans will consider a blockbuster, especially those who believe such a trade is overdue and won't reap a huge haul.
Finally, and despite the sorry shape of the franchise's minor league system, the club boats a few minor league prospects, including Anthony Veneziano, Nick Loftin, Logan Porter (all three of whom the club should audition in the majors before the season ends), Frank Mozzicato, and Ben Kudrna, who should command other teams' attention. But the solid investments in the club's future too many of those players represent make it unlikely they'll be headed elsewhere.
What does all that mean? It's simple. The Royals don't have many blue-chip trade pieces, and those they do have won't be moved this summer.
Don't expect a blockbuster. It won't be coming.