3 too-early trade partners that make too much sense for KC Royals

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Los Angeles Angels

Possible targets: OF Taylor Ward, OF Kevin Pillar, RHP Hunter Strickland, RHP Hans Crouse

The Royals already traveled to Anaheim for a series against the Los Angeles Angels, giving Kansas City a closer look at some quality trade deadline targets. Los Angeles is mired in MLB's basement, gutting their fans who hoped to turn a page after Shohei Ohtani's departure. Outfielder Mike Trout's absence leaves this team without a soul and firmly last in the AL West.

The Angels gave Kansas City a great fight, thanks mostly to batters Jo Adell and Willie Calhoun. Both were frustrating powerhouses at the plate then, but have cooled off considerably. Kansas City should look to their fellow outfielders for some help, with varying levels of trade package prices.

Taylor Ward is one of the Angels' best players this season, but that is a low bar. Still, his 122-wRC+ bat would play well in the Royals lineup and be an immediate improvement in the lineup's lower half. He is vastly underperforming his expected stats, so would a trade partner buy low and look to Ward booming?

If Kansas City wanted a rental option, Kevin Pillar is their guy. The 35-year-old veteran is not in his athletic prime, but his booming bat has him on pace for a career year. Pillar is slashing .337/.385/.600 across 105 plate appearances this year, with six home runs and 25 RBI. He can play all the outfield positions but would slot best in left field so Kansas City could cycle through right fielders.

The Angels bullpen is one of MLB's worst, but that doesn't mean they lack one or two quality options. The best fit for Kansas City has to be veteran Hunter Strickland. The 35-year-old is on pace for a career year, thanks to a revamped slider. He doesn't induce whiffs at an elite rate, but he demonstrates above-average command and should be available for cheap.

Hans Crouse is my minor-league target, and Kansas City could give him another MLB opportunity. The former Philadelphia Phillies top prospect joined the Angels in a minor-league contract this past offseason and has done nothing but shove since. His 39.5% strikeout rate is turning heads, but his lack of walks and high groundball rate make me believe in him.