July 31 - Chicago trade Nelson Velazquez to KC Royals for Jose Cuas.
I fail to see a downside to this trade two months after execution. The Royals sent away Jose Cuas, a replacement-level reliever to the Chicago Cubs for Nelson Velazquez, and an outfielder on the outside of the team's outfield logjam. The Cubs were contending for a postseason bid at the time, so Cuas looked like an acceptable option to shore up their bullpen. But, with the Cubs outside of the postseason and Cuas' decline, that only makes the Royals look like even bigger winners.
Cuas declined in several areas after joining the Cubs. The BB/9 rose to 5.32, K/9 fell to 7.23, plus his 4.90 FIP was a career-worst mark. In all, he added a measly .04 win percentage to the Chicago club. He wasn't the reason the team fell short of the postseason, but he had little impact it seems.
On the other hand, acquiring Velazquez looks like a savvy move from the Royals front office. He has 14 home runs in 40 games since coming to Kansas City. His 130 wRC+ is among the team's best since Aug. 10 as well.
Sure, he does not play perfect defense in the outfield, as evidenced by his -2 outs above average, according to Baseball Savant. He surprisingly has better defensive metrics in left field, a spot that has been a revolving door of poor defenders this season.
Velazquez's bat more than covers for his glove though. The Royals sorely needed a powerful bat in the 2023 lineup. At only 24 years old, Velazquez has a chance to be that in 2024 and possibly beyond.
July 30 - KC Royals traded Nicky Lopez to Atlanta for Taylor Hearn.
Is there anything new to say about this? Nicky Lopez is going to the postseason while Taylor Heanr hasn't pitched in the majors since Aug. 28. Atlanta fans have rightfully taken to Lopez as a fan favorite.
Atlanta analysts love the trade, as the team only lost a poor reliever to gain a versatile player in Lopez. The only "positive" way to slice this is the Royals don't have to pay Lopez more for being on the bench, but that is not a good reason to ship off Lopez for less than nothing.