The trade deadline deals made by the KC Royals remain unmatched. It is undeniable that the acquisitions of Cole Ragans and Nelson Velazquez have provided a significant boost to this struggling franchise. It is worth noting, however, that the Royals received and traded additional players beyond these two.
How do all the KC Royals trades grade out as the season ends?
The minor league moves can be easily overlooked. Keeping up with the Royals on their own can be a lot; adding on four more teams can be an impossible ask. But, we did not initially recap those moves alongside other deadline deals. We will detail those moves a bit more than their MLB counterparts, simply to give you more context. Let's run through every trade Kansas City has made since Opening Day this year, starting with the August moves.
Aug. 22 - KC Royals trade Brewer Hicklen to Philadelphia for cash.
Outfielder Brewer Hicklen made his MLB debut in a Royals uniform on May 26, 2022. He was a part of the young group that came up for the infamous journey to Toronto that season as well. In total, Hicklen appeared in six games with no starts and only four plate appearances. Such is the life of an emergency outfielder.
The circumstances of Hicklen's progression are frustrating. The Alabama alum turned 27 ahead of the 2023 season, aging him out of prospect status. Hicklen showed that he was competent all across the outfield and a plus-bat at the Triple-A level. The strikeout issues (36.1% strikeout rate in 2022) likely hindered him. ZiPS still projected him as a 1 fWAR player in 2023 at the MLB level and Hicklen could have added life to this Royals outfield earlier this season.
Kansas City's lack of action spelled his standing in their long-term plans, so it was bittersweet to see him traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. Sometimes a player only needs a change of scenery and a chance elsewhere to succeed. He hit the ground running for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, where he played in 11 games. His walk rate shockingly rose to 21.7%, only slightly trailing an improved 23.9% strikeout rate. His .885 OPS and 129 wRC+ show an outfielder make a solid first impression.
Hicklen will likely compete for the Phillies 40-man roster next spring training, but he is far from a sure thing at the MLB level. Besides, 28-year-old farm players usually do not make a large impact at the next level. For the Royals' sake, I hope he does not. But it is impossible to root against Hicklen.