In the aftermath of the trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the New York Yankees last week, Kansas City Royals general manager JJ Picollo didn’t sound like an executive who was ready to sit out the rest of the Major League Baseball trade deadline.
That was true Monday, when Picollo made two deals, acquiring left-handed pitcher Anthony Misiewicz from the Seattle Mariners for cash considerations and third trading baseman Emmanuel Rivera to Arizona for right-hander Luke Weaver.
But Picollo also left open the possibility of the Royals holding on to the rest of their players.
The deadline for MLB teams to execute trades is 5 pm Central time Tuesday. The Royals appear to be nearing the end of a transitional period with their roster.
“The players we have remaining have years on their contracts, so we don’t have to be the aggressor,” Picollo said last week. “… I think it will get interesting. I don’t know where it will go. If the players that are on this team are with us next year, it’s not a bad thing.
“It’s really a matter of whether or not we can improve our team or the organization moving forward by using these players. And that’ll be dictated by the level of interest and competition that may exist to acquire any one player.”
The Royals have promoted a large group of their top homegrown players to the majors, such as shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., catcher MJ Melendez and first basemen Vinnie Pasquantino and Nick Pratto, as well as starting pitchers Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, Kris Bubic and Jonathan Heasley. The Royals seem to have a core group to build around for the future.
In theory, that gives the Royals the flexibility to trade players who might be coveted by contending teams in a playoff race and/or players who could be free agents in the near future and might not figure to be part of the Royals when their young core is in its prime.
Royals players who are reportedly trade targets or have been the topic of trade discussions include:
Relief pitcher Scott Barlow
The Royals’ Pitcher of the Year last season and the most reliable member of their bullpen both in terms of production and durability. Entering play on Sunday, he was one of three relievers in the majors with (Baltimore’s Jorge López and the New York Yankees’ Clay Holmes) with 40 or more appearances, four wins or more and 15 saves or more.
Of Barlow’s team-high 16 saves this season, six have come in situations where he recorded at least four outs. That tied him with former Royals pitcher López for the most such saves this season.
In 44 appearances (47 2/3 innings) this season, Barlow has posted a 2.45 ERA, with 46 strikeouts, a 1.07 WHIP and a .218 opponent’s batting average.
He’s under team control, arbitration eligible, through the end of the 2024 season.
Infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield
The two-time All-Star has started at every position on the field except shortstop, catcher and pitcher. He’s a former MLB hits champion as well as a stolen base champion. His iron man streak of 553 games earlier this summer, but he’s been remarkably durable.
Merrifield, 33, has a team-friendly contract that carries through next season with an option year in 2024.
After he got off to a slow offensive start this season with a slash line of .135/.177/.164 through the first 26 games, Merrifield has looked more like his typical self over the last 68 games and slashed .280/.333 /.415 during that period.
Relief pitcher Josh Staumont
One of the hardest throwing pitchers in the majors in recent years, Staumont has made five appearances since coming off the injured list on July 15 (neck strain).
In 34 appearances this season (30 2/3 innings), he has registered a 4.11 ERA with 35 strikeouts, a 1.53 WHIP and a .223 opponent’s batting average.
His four-seam fastball has averaged 96.2 mph this season, while his sinker has averaged 97.2 mph. During the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, his average fastball velocity reached 98 mph (four-seamer) and 99 mph (sinker).
Staumont, 28, doesn’t reach his first year of salary arbitration until next season.
Center fielder Michael A. Taylor
A Gold Glove winner in center field who graded as one of the top defensive players at any position in the majors last season, Taylor has arguably enjoyed his best offensive season this year at age 31.
Taylor entered this week with a slash line of .278/.348/.394 in 74 games. He also was tied for the most defensive runs saved (eight) of any center fielder in the majors, alongside Cleveland’s Myles Straw. He also ranked fifth among center fielders in the defensive metric ultimate zone rating.
Taylor signed an extension at the end of last season that carries through the end of the 2023 season.
This story was originally published August 1, 2022 1:00 PM.