KC Royals Trades: Grading the club's 2023 major and minor league deals

Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages
7 of 7

May 8 - Philadelphia trades James McArthur to KC Royals for Junior Marin and cash.

Trading for James McArthur was a big gamble for the Royals coaching staff and front office. The move felt like the first prove-it deal from the new administration with most of the season left to go. If I were writing this on Sept. 1, this would be a widely different grade. But, McArthur was Kansas City's best reliever down the stretch and one of the best bullpen arms in MLB.

The Phillies designated McArthur for assignment on May 4 this season and the Royals gave up more than cash to acquire the towering reliever. Junior Marin is a 19-year-old outfielder in the ACL who had a tremendous 2022 season. He made only five appearances for the Phillies ACL team, slashing .294/.316/.412 with an 84 wRC+. He is a lottery ticket, but Royals fans still did not understand the move.

Sending away an ACL outfielder for McArthur looks much better as the season comes to a close. McArthur's tenure started terrible, but Royals fans will remember how he performed since returning to the team on Sept. 1. In 14 1/3 innings since then, he has not allowed a run, walked a batter, or hit a batter. He has four hits in those 11 games while earning his first career win and recording three saves. I understand that luck was incredibly in play, evident by his .129 BABIP. But, there is no discounting his 1.17 FIP or 15 strikeouts in that span.

“There will be pieces who emerge. It’s a matter of who’s going to step forward and do it,” general manager J.J. Picollo said. “We can talk all we want, but somebody’s got to do it.”

I am really excited about McArthur's potential for success in 2024 and beyond. The Royals saw his potential when they acquired him, and the coaches have only made him better. We got a glimpse of what he can do in September, and it was very impressive.

Grade: A+