Royals should stay busy before Trade Deadline

July 16th, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- Two down, several to go.

Now that the Royals have traded right-hander Homer Bailey and catcher Martin Maldonado, general manager Dayton Moore won’t stop there.

It has been no secret for weeks that the Royals are looking to move players with expiring contracts, while also exploring any other deal that could further along their rebuild.

Here’s a look at the rest of the club's potential assets approaching the Trade Deadline on July 31:

Jake Diekman

The lefty reliever is drawing the most interest of the Royals’ players with expiring deals. He has less than half of his $2.75 million deal still owed, so it won’t take a contending team with deep pockets to make a move.

The Dodgers, who have a scout here at Kauffman Stadium, and the Nationals are known to be interested. Scouts from the Braves and the Phillies were on hand to watch Diekman power out of a jam against the White Sox on Monday night in a 5-2 win. Other teams that could get in the derby include the Rangers (a nice reunion, perhaps), Rays and Pirates.

Diekman’s overall numbers entering Tuesday look suspect -- 4.97 ERA and 23 walks in 38 innings. But it’s that power fastball (97-98 mph) and wipeout slider that have produced 55 strikeouts, and romanced teams looking for another bullpen piece.

Best guess here is that the Dodgers wind up making a strong play for Diekman.

Billy Hamilton

The speedy outfielder has less than half owed on his $5.25 million contract for 2019. Moving Hamilton will be a bit trickier than Diekman and may force the Royals to absorb some of the financials. And that’s mainly because those contending teams interested in Hamilton likely will view him strictly as a weapon off the bench.

Hamilton does bring elite baserunning speed and elite defense to the party that could help solve some teams’ outfield woes (Rockies).

Wily Peralta

The right-handed reliever has around $1.5 million owed on his $3.25 million deal, so again, the Royals may have to ante up a little just because Peralta has had an up-and-down season.

The 95-mph heater is still there with a decent sinker and splitter, but Peralta has been inconsistent. He had a 13-game stretch recently where he posted a 0.71 ERA. And he hasn’t allowed an earned run in five outings this month, so scouts can see some potential value.

Still, that nearly 1.5 WHIP and 4.66 overall ERA could make any contender hit the brakes on Peralta.

Lucas Duda

Not much value there (.152, three home runs) which was the case last season when the Royals shipped the first baseman to the Braves in late August for cash considerations.

Ian Kennedy

The right-hander has emerged as a reliable closer (14-for-17 in save opportunities entering Tuesday) with a 3.32 ERA. The Royals would be open to a deal, but the finances would really be challenging. He is owed around $24 million on a deal that runs through 2020, so ownership likely would really have to subsidize any trade. Not impossible, but challenging.

Whit Merrifield

It seems every other day a “new” report emerges with the same mantra Moore first made clear before last year’s Trade Deadline, then again at the Winter Meetings, and once more about a month ago: It would take a monstrous offer for anyone to pry the super-utility player away from the Royals. The club views Merrifield young enough (30) to help usher in its next stage of contending baseball, perhaps by 2021.

Jorge Soler

Much like Kennedy, the Royals would listen to offers on Soler. And one primary reason for that is there is a clause in the outfielder/designated hitter's contract, as reported last month, that will allow Soler to bypass his $4 million salary for 2020 and opt for arbitration this offseason. The Royals already are bracing for that scenario as Soler (25 home runs) likely will break Mike Moustakas’ franchise record for home runs (38) and be in line for a significant raise.

Alex Gordon

The veteran outfielder's contract is expiring, but he’s a 10-and-5 guy (can veto any deal), and he has told that he’s not interested in going anywhere else.