New York Mets could target KC Royals relievers after Edwin Diaz injury
The New York Mets went all in this offseason, loading up on weapons to win in the challenging NL East. But, their top relief option and closer Edwin Diaz will now miss the 2023 season after tearing his right patellar tendon during the World Baseball Classic. ESPN's Jeff Passan confirmed the worst news for Mets fans, and trumpet fans around the world. New York must now pivot to another closing option for the 2023 season, and that is where the KC Royals come in.
The Mets employ two 37-year-old relievers David Robertson and Adam Ottavino, both of who could take over as the team's closer. However, letting the Mets' World Series aspirations rest on their arms last the season is not a realistic approach. It certainly does not fit the mold of general manager Billy Eppler and team owner Steve Cohen. New York's shrewd front office is likely already calling teams, inquiring about available arms. The Royals should be all ears if the Mets call them.
The KC Royals and New York Mets make sense as trade partners. The question is would the Royals trade arguably their best reliever to the contending Mets?
The Royals are undergoing some major changes on the pitching front, with new coaches and mindsets taking over in 2023. Fans may be underestimating how much player turnover could happen in the Kansas City bullpen and rotation this season. There are several pending free agents or pitchers who don't fit the coach's mold that could be on the move ahead of the trade deadline. CBS Sports' Jim Bowden already listed the Royals as potential trade partners for the Mets.
While Aroldis Chapman departing Kansas City would not make many Royals fans sad, there are some more trade candidates the Mets would ask about. The biggest name is undoubtedly current Royals closer Scott Barlow.
The 30-year-old Barlow is hitting his career peak right now, yet the Royals have not committed to him financially beyond the 2023 season. His 24 saves last season ranked in MLB's top 10, while he limited batter's solid contact at a historic rate. His slider is his best pitch, and one of the best sliders in all of baseball. The fastball velocity dropped last year, but his pitch sequencing still baffles batters. He forces batters to chase on nearly 40% of his pitches, ranking in the 97% percentile in MLB. Barlow is something else, and it is shocking that he has never received the All-Star nod.
If the Royals were closer to contending, fans would be clamoring for Barlow to stay a Royal forever. But, with Kansas City still feeling out their next core unit of players, Barlow could be a shell of himself before the Royals return to the postseason. He is arguably the best reliever available on the trade market and should pique the Mets' interest.
Aroldis Chapman, Amir Garrett, and even Josh Staumont could be trade pieces for the Royals and Mets' talks. However, those three and Barlow should not be traded away for pennies on the dollar. The Royals may want to run with their current pitchers and see what happens through May before making any moves. That would certainly make fans happy, rather than the team trading away "key" pitchers before Opening Day.
Royals fans are tired of the continued rebuild process, one that has seen little progress in recent years. Trading away Barlow might be frustrating and harm the team in the present, but if the Mets or another competitive team overpays for his services, the Royals would be hard-pressed to turn that down.