Royals on trade chips: 'Going to be plenty of options'

June 29th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Anne Rogers’ Royals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

KANSAS CITY -- The next month figures to be one of the most hectic in baseball, with the MLB Draft beginning on July 9 as part of All-Star Game festivities that week in Seattle and then, two weeks after baseball resumes, the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline.

The Royals are sellers this year, especially in the reliever market. Their No. 1 trade chip is lefty reliever , the triple-digit flamethrower who has a 2.54 ERA entering Thursday. and  are two others who figure to generate interest.

“We clearly have guys that teams are going to be interested in, so we’re just weighing the options there and trying to figure out which teams match up and need what we have, and how well they match up with us,” general manager J.J. Picollo said Monday. “There are going to be plenty of options for us. We’re excited about that.”

The Royals will be looking to trade players on expiring contracts like Chapman and Clarke, as well as pitchers Amir Garrett and Brad Keller if they can return from the injured list in time and prove valuable to teams looking for pitching.

And while the Royals will be averse to trading away their young core -- including players like , (who is out for the year with a shoulder injury), , and , as well as pitchers and -- Picollo acknowledged that no one player is really untradeable.

“I don’t think, in this climate, you can say anybody’s off the table,” Picollo said. “We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got to build out a roster that can compete in this division. That’s not to say anybody is on the trading block, but we’ve got to listen. If there is an opportunity for us to get better, we’ve got to listen. Some guys are going to be more difficult to trade than others. But if we were close-minded, we wouldn’t be doing the right thing for the Royals.”

Equally exciting is which prospects the Royals will target as the return in those trades. While some of it depends on who is available from the club the Royals are dealing with, Picollo said he’s looking at talent ready to help the big league team sooner rather than later.

“To capitalize on our current Major League team, we need to put pieces around them to help us compete at a higher level by adding guys in the Major Leagues,” Picollo said. “If it’s Minor League depth -- and I don’t want to say depth as in just having a number of guys -- and quality players, that can help, too.

“But with the core players we have here, we want to add as much as we can around them. And if it’s not done at this Deadline, it’s going to be done in the offseason.”

The Royals won’t be locked into only players who can help in Kansas City soon; they need to supplement their farm system with impact players at all levels. They can never have enough pitching, and with how many young core position players they have at the Major League level right now, they need impact bats throughout the organization, too.

A trade can be made at any time, and more injury risk is involved the longer the Royals wait. But the longer they wait, the more desperate a contending team can get.

“I think we got to take a hard look at where this team is. Unfortunately, right now, we’re not in the race,” Picollo said. “So, if there’s a deal to be made sooner rather than later, then we’ve got to do it.”