By: Ryan Knoblauch, who you can find on Twitter here: @Rknobsauce
The last two months of the Royal’s season have been a roller coaster of emotions. In May, they were significantly behind in both the division race and AL wildcard. They looked certain to be sellers at the deadline and the team that fans have come to know and love over the last few seasons looked like it was going to get broken up for an infusion of new prospects. But a hot-streak in June quickly erased both the division and wildcard deficits, and the team once again looked poised for another playoff run. However, just before the all-star break the Royals were swept by the Dodger’s (no shame there, they are a juggernaut), and the losing continued after the break losing 5 of 6 to the Rangers and Tigers, leaving the team once again, with an uncertain future and a trade deadline looming.
But Monday, the Royal’s showed exactly where the future is by acquiring 3 pitchers in a deal with the Padres. Let take a look what these pitchers mean. A lot of the opinions I list below you likely may have seen from Rany Jazayerli. I think his reasonings make perfect sense based on some of the things Dayton Moore has been saying about the trade deadline. He also offers good insight on minor leaugers I dont have much knowledge of. He is a huge Royals fan and baseball guru in general. If you dont follow him you should @jazayerli
First – What the Royals got:
The center piece of this deal is Trevor Cahill. Cahill has struggled with health and hasn’t been what he once was in his stellar second year with Oakland in 2010, but has had decent start to 2017 with the Padres. He is a good starting pitcher that wouldn’t cost the Royals much. The team hope pitching coach Dave Eiland can sprinkle his magic dust all over him as he did with other pitchers later in their careers like Edison Volquez and Ervin Santana. Brandon Maurer feels like a depth play as they needed to add a couple more arms to their bullpen. Again, maybe Eiland can strike gold with him. Ryan Buchter has a 2.90 ERA for his career and is a nice addition. As Rany points out on Twitter, Maurer (2019) and Buchter (2021) are under team control past this season. I think this was a very important bargaining point for the Royals. They recognize that the window is closing with the core of their team and don’t want to completly deplete their talent and prospects trying to make one more run. Similar to why they traded Wade Davis for Jorge Soler (potentialy 5 years control) this past offseason.
Second – what they gave up:
Strahm had a great year last year and had potential as a future starting pitcher, but has struggled a bit this year. He’s 25 and still in the bullpen so his opportunity as a starter was getting narrower. In my opinion a gamble worth taking. Travis Wood was who the Royals were relying on as a 5th starter in the rotation with Nathan Karns injury this year. He is more of a long reliever than a starting pitcher and Cahill is a significant upgrade over him. I am not familiar with Esteury Ruiz but the buzz around him was significant. He’s only 18 and has hit .343 for this career. But it’s so difficult to predict how hitters will progress at the next level, and I think it’s worth the risk for a player who is still that young and you dont know what he will turn in to (point-in-case, Wil Myers. Opposite point-in-case, Whit Merifield.)
Either way we now have direction with where the Royals are heading with the remainder of the season. They filled two pressing needs in acquiring a 5th starter and adding bullpen depth. If there is another move for them to make I think it will be a small one. With Alex Gordon and Brandon Moss’s struggles they could use a OF/DH and may make a minor deal late in the deadline, or may wait until after teams dump players they can’t trade to waivers like they did with Josh Willingham and Raul Ibanez in 2014. Strap in, and cheers hoping for one more wild ride with this team.