Royals add Anderson, Wright in pair of trades with Braves

November 18th, 2023

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals and Braves were busy trade partners on Friday, executing two separate trades that landed Kansas City two pitchers.

First, the Royals acquired reliever for cash considerations. A few hours later, the clubs swapped a pair of former first-round pitchers, with heading to Kansas City and  to Atlanta.

Wright, 28, will likely miss all of 2024 after undergoing right shoulder surgery, but he led the Majors with 21 wins and a 3.19 ERA in 2022, becoming the first Braves pitcher to lead the Majors in wins since Tom Glavine in 2000. Wright was an integral part of the 2021 World Series champion Braves when he allowed one run over 5 1/3 relief innings against the Astros that October.

The No. 5 overall pick in 2017, Wright has a 4.45 ERA over parts of six Major League seasons. Additionally, he has an option remaining and isn’t a free agent until 2027.

Wright’s arrival signaled the end of Kowar’s time in Kansas City, which didn’t turn out the way the Royals had hoped. The 33rd overall pick in the 2018 Draft -- and a key piece of that college-pitching heavy Draft class -- Kowar struggled in the Majors with a 9.12 career ERA over 39 games (eight starts) and 74 innings. The Royals moved him to the bullpen in ‘23, and while he showed flashes of success, his lack of command continued to hinder him, leading to a 6.43 ERA across 28 innings with 29 strikeouts and 20 walks.

Kowar is expected to get a fourth option next season, but the Royals felt it was time to move on -- and Wright’s acquisition is a long-term move to help the pitching staff.

The other trade made Friday should help the Royals next season, though. Anderson posted a 3.06 ERA across 35 1/3 innings for Atlanta this season, with 36 strikeouts and just nine walks, although he was shut down the second half of the season with a shoulder strain. Anderson went on a rehab assignment at the end of the season but didn’t make it back to Atlanta and was left off its playoff roster.

Anderson is arbitration eligible for the second time this offseason and is projected to make $1.75 million, per Cot’s Contracts. He had elbow surgery in 2021 and missed all of ‘22 because of it.

The Royals have set out this winter to find bullpen help any way they can after the unit posted a 5.23 ERA in 2023, the second-worst mark in baseball. Anderson isn’t the dominant force he was for the Marlins and Rays from 2019-20 – when he posted a 2.77 ERA across 81 1/3 innings with 136 strikeouts and 21 walks – but he could still help a young Kansas City team looking for reliable arms in the back end of games.

In a corresponding 40-man move, the Royals designated lefty Austin Cox for assignment. Cox’s rookie season was interrupted when he suffered an ACL tear in September, and he’ll be sidelined well into ‘24.

Cox, catcher Logan Porter, reliever Josh Staumont and outfielder Diego Hernandez were all non-tendered on Friday night as well, giving Kansas City 39 players on its 40-man roster. Friday was the deadline to tender contracts to players for 2024, and all non-tendered players became free agents.

The Royals avoided arbitration with lefty reliever  with a pre-tender deal ahead of Friday’s deadline. According to a source, Taylor – who missed most of this past season with injuries -- will make $1.1 million in 2024. Brady Singer, Kris Bubic, Carlos Hernandez and Edward Olivares are the remaining arbitration-eligible players on the Royals’ roster.