KANSAS CITY -- Six down. One to go.
As the Trade Deadline approaches on Wednesday, the Royals have moved almost all of their expiring contracts. Right-hander Homer Bailey, left-hander Jake Diekman and catcher Martin Maldonado have been traded, while right-hander Wily Peralta, outfielder Terrance Gore and first baseman Lucas Duda were designated for assignment. Gore eventually was traded to the Yankees for cash considerations.
What’s left is speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton, who could be of value as a bench player to a contending team, which might want to utilize Hamilton’s elite defensive skills and blazing speed on the basepaths.
“There’s still a market for him,” one rival scout told MLB.com. “The return won’t be great, but he has value to a contender.”
Hamilton, who was in the starting lineup against the Blue Jays on Monday, entered the series opener hitting just .213. But the switch-hitter also had 17 steals, and he ranked 12th in MLB with plus-6 in Statcast’s “Outs Above Average,” which is the cumulative effect of all individual catch probability plays a fielder has been credited or debited with.
Hamilton is on a one-year $5.25 million deal with the Royals, with a mutual option for $7.5 million in 2020.
Whit at second base
Royals manager Ned Yost, after being non-committal for a few days, finally conceded that Whit Merrifield indeed will play much more second base while shortstop Adalberto Mondesi (left shoulder subluxation) remains on the injured list. Mondesi is not close to returning, though Yost said he believes Mondesi will return before the season ends.
“It gives me the best offensive lineup to have Whit at second right now,” Yost said. “Would I rather have Whit play some outfield? Yeah. When Mondi gets back it will be even more of a juggling act.”
Yost said of Mondesi, “You definitely want him back before the year’s out. You want to make sure he’s all right going into next year.”