Archive for Royals

Matt Strahm: From Fargo to KC (with Velocity)

Matt Strahm flirted with 80 mph in West Fargo, North Dakota. Now he throws mid-90s heat in Kansas City. The 24-year-old southpaw came a long way from undersized prep to overpowering Royals rookie.

A 21st-round pick in 2012 out of Neosho (Kansas) County Community College, Strahm jumped directly from Double-A to the KC bullpen in late July. He proceeded to set down opposing hitters with style. In 22 innings over 21 appearances, he fanned 30 and allowed just 13 hits. Only three earned runs went onto his statistical record.

Strahm started for the bulk of the past two minor-league seasons, and he will reportedly compete for a spot in the Royals rotation next spring. Wherever his future role, he has both an electric arm and a seemingly out-of-nowhere story. Strahm talked about both when Kansas City came to Boston at the end of August.


Strahm on growing up in West Fargo: “Playing pro ball was always a dream of mine. That said, I was 6-foot, 150 pounds. I never lifted a weight. I was never on a throwing program. Baseball in North Dakota, our seasons are so short that you don’t really get to throw very much.

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The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad 100-RBI Season

Depending on your perspective, you might think that Eric Hosmer had a career season. After all, he wasn’t just an All-Star, he was the All-Star Game MVP! He hit 20 homers for the first time — his 25 dingers were six more than his previous season best. And he drove in 104 runs — 11 more than his previous best. And yet, for the third time in his career, he was a replacement player or worse in terms of WAR. Did Eric Hosmer just have the worst 100-RBI season on record?

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MLB Largely Prevails in Scout-Pay Lawsuit

One can be forgiven for having forgotten about the Wyckoff v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball lawsuit. The class action case — filed back in July 2015 by Jordan Wyckoff, a former scout for the Kansas City Royals — accused Major League Baseball and its teams of violating both federal antitrust and employment law by colluding to deprive amateur and professional scouts both of the minimum wage and overtime compensation. Specifically, the case contended that MLB teams have unlawfully agreed not to compete with one another for the services of their scouts, with the result that wages for these employees have, in some cases, been depressed to as little as $5 per hour once all of their various job duties have been accounted for.

Late last year, MLB filed a motion asking the court to dismiss Wyckoff’s antitrust claims under its historic antitrust exemption. At the same time, MLB also argued that the suit’s minimum-wage claims should be dismissed against all but the Royals, since Wyckoff — the only plaintiff named in the suit who was asserting a violation of the minimum-wage and overtime rules — had never been employed by any of the other 29 MLB clubs.

Since then, the parties have waited… and waited… and then waited some more for the court to issue a ruling. That wait mercifully came to an end this past Thursday when Judge Paul Gardephe finally released his long-anticipated decision, more than nine months after MLB’s motion had first been filed.

In his opinion, Judge Gardephe granted MLB all of the relief it had requested, dismissing the overwhelming majority of Wyckoff’s case. As a result, while Wyckoff can continue to pursue his claim for back-pay from the Royals, any hopes he may have had that his suit would spur more systemic changes to the market for MLB scouts appear to have fallen short.

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Terrance Gore Is Human After All

This is not how a catcher reacts to your typical regular-season caught stealing:

And this is not the sort of enthusiasm with which a catcher is typically met in the post-game high-five line:

If you missed what happened in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game between the Cleveland Indians and the Kansas City Royals, I’ve already spoiled the surprise. Terrance Gore, pinch-runner extraordinaire, was caught stealing in a regular-season game for the first time in his career. He’d gone 17-for-17 before Wednesday night. He’d gone 4-for-5 in the postseason, too, and his only caught stealing came at third base on a play in which he beat the throw and was originally called safe, only to have the verdict changed because his foot came off the bag for a split-second.

For more than a century prior to the advent of instant replay, Gore’s only caught stealing before Wednesday night wouldn’t have been a caught stealing at all, and even with replay, the ruling was dubious. Gore was damn near 21-for-21 in steal attempts to begin his career before Wednesday night, and the major-league record in the expansion era is 26, set by Mitchell Page in 1977. What was amounting to an historic streak has now come to a close, at the hands of Indians catcher Roberto Perez and reliever Cody Allen.

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So You Want a Cinderella Story?

According to our playoff odds, there are currently 13 teams which feature playoff odds below 2%. As that number grows throughout the month, an increasingly large percentage of baseball fans will be bidding farewell to the hopes that this is the year for their preferred teams and looking to adopt other rooting interests. There’s no full replacement for the satisfaction of your team winning in October, but playoff baseball is still worth enjoying as much as you can. So, for whom do you root this month?

In recent years, Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated has popularized Team Entropy — spending your September rooting for the chaos generated by ties testing the limits of baseball’s tie-breaker system. With a range of 5.5 games separating the seven teams atop the AL Wild Card standings, Team Entropy is as in play as ever. The theoretical implications of a three- or four- or five-way tie for a Wild Card spot are delightful to imagine. It would be a blast to watch and, as someone with no skin in the game this year, I’d enjoy the hell out of it. That said, my strongest loyalties lie with another team — I’m not Team Entropy, I’m Team Cinderella.

For me, there’s no more exciting storyline than a September longshot bucking the odds and finding its way into the postseason. Two years ago, the Pirates had roughly a 20% chance to make the postseason on September 3rd according to The Baseball Gauge and then proceeded to secure themselves a spot in the Wild Card game. But I’d argue an even more exciting September Cinderella storyline unfolded a year before that when the 2013 Indians finished off the season by winning 15 of 17 and beating out the Rangers for a Wild Card Spot despite possessing 15% playoff odds at the start of that final 17-game run. Now that’s my idea of brilliant September baseball.

It’s been a few years and, though it may be a virtue, patience is certainly no fun. It’s time for a new September Cinderella team, so let’s go searching for one. For this exercise, I’m considering the cases of the five teams with playoff odds currently in the 3%-20% range.

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Danny Duffy on Pitching (and Not Overthinking)

Danny Duffy has had his ups and downs since being drafted by Kansas City in 2007. Many of the former have come in the past 12 months. The 27-year-old southpaw made three relief appearances for the Royals in last year’s World Series and has a ring to show for his efforts. This season, he has emerged as a dominant starter. Duffy is 11-2 with a 3.13 ERA, and his game log includes a 16-strikeout gem.

His resume includes rocky moments, as well. He’s undergone Tommy John surgery, shoulder woes, and more than a little inconsistency. The issues have been mental as well as physical. Duffy admits to having gotten inside his own head at times. He’s put too much pressure on himself, and an early-career soul-searching session even resulted in him walking away from the game for a few months.

Duffy talked about the road he’s traveled, and where he is today, when the Royals visited Fenway Park in late August.


Duffy on why he’s been able to take a step forward: “That’s an interesting question. I’m just trying to keep it simple, man. It’s that battle I’ve tried to conquer for a while. When you don’t make the game so difficult… it’s hard enough already. I’m kind of just trying to use my stuff for what it is and not trying to be better than I am.

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The Year It All Fell Apart for Eric Hosmer, Again

There was some talk not long ago about Eric Hosmer and his impending 2018 free agency, with years in the range of 10, and dollars in the range of $200 million. Of course, this talk was being put out there by Hosmer’s camp, and of course Hosmer’s camp’s got nothing to lose by talking up their client. Hosmer’s going to hit free agency at a relatively young age, and just last year he was a 25-year-old former third overall pick coming off the best season of his career, in which he became more or less the face of a World Series-winning franchise. He’s been incredibly durable, he’s had his fair share of big moments and won his fair share of awards, and he’s the kind of guy that seems to be held in high regards by teammates and within baseball circles.

Hosmer’s got his virtues, and Hosmer’s agent, Scott Boras, is just doing his job, a job at which he excels. But it was clear at the time that Hosmer was never going to earn $200 million, or probably anywhere near $200 million, and it’s become clearer since. In the month and a half since the $200 million talk began, he’s slashed .215/.292/.349, good for a 66 wRC+, and while Hosmer’s bat (and his team) have been heating up lately, each likely seem too late to save their season. The Royals currently stand with playoff odds below 5%. Hosmer currently stands with a season batting line which barely rests above the league-average mark, and a Wins Above Replacement figure that has a negative sign in front of it.

Hosmer, clearly, is a talented ballplayer. You don’t go third overall in the draft without talent. You don’t break into the majors as an above-average hitter at 21 without talent. You don’t post a top-10 average exit velocity and hit homers like this without talent. So how do we get to September with a -0.2 WAR?

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Ian Kennedy Is Doing a Fabulous Impression of an Ace

The Kansas City Royals had won 13 of 15 games entering play on Tuesday only to lose their last two games in one-run, extra-inning fashion to the Yankees. They are now three games back in the Wild Card race and trailing five other teams in competition for two spots. Two weeks ago our playoff odds gave them a less than 1% chance of making the playoffs — and, two days ago, those odds were 9.4% — but after last night’s loss, they’ve fallen back down to 4.7%. Have the Royals really pulled themselves back into contention or has their late-season surge been for naught? They’ve proven projection systems wrong many times before and it’s possible the Royals are preparing for a magical run in September, but it’s undeniable that their path to the playoffs is not an easy one.

What strikes me most about the Royals’ recent run of success is that it’s come largely on the strength of what has been considered the team’s biggest weakness: starting pitching. Over the past 30 days, only the Cubs and Red Sox have posted a lower starters’ ERA than the Royals’ 3.42. Add in the bullpens and the Royals have recorded a 2.77 team ERA in the past 30 days, a figure which narrowly trails the Cubs’ 2.75 team ERA and is head and shoulders above the third-best team ERA over that stretch – the Pirates’ 3.41 mark. Meanwhile, their offense has posted a team wRC+ of 84 during that same stretch which is 26th worst in the majors and just a smidge ahead of the flailing Phillies offense (85 wRC+).

Inasmuch as the Royals have climbed back into contention, they’ve done it on the strength of pitching, which means it’s time to take a look at one of the key pieces in this resurgence, their much-mocked free-agent acquisition and current ace: Ian Kennedy.

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KC’s Chris Young Versus Three Boston Batters

Chris Young faced three batters in the sixth inning of last Friday’s game at Fenway Park. Pitching in relief of starter Ian Kennedy, the Royals right-hander came on with one out, a runner on second base, and Kansas City leading the hometown Red Sox 5-1. He allowed a run-scoring single to Dustin Pedroia, then retired Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz to end the inning.

Two days later, Young talked about the at-bats, the role of luck, and how his pitching approach is influenced by a home run he gave up in 2005.


Young on facing Pedroia: “A lot of variables go into it, but I’m big on looking at the reports. With Pedroia’s numbers off fastballs, and what he does against sliders, in the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘Alright, I probably need to get him out with a slider.’ The fastball he covers pretty well. If I do throw a fastball, it’s got to be in a specific location.

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The Royals Aren’t Making Elite Contact Anymore

We’d like to welcome Ryan Pollack to the staff as the newest contributor to FanGraphs. Ryan has written for Camden Chat and Camden Depot in the past, and yes, we hired him just so Orioles fans would stop yelling at us about our projections. Please give Ryan a warm welcome.

The Kansas City Royals have been a high-contact, low-strikeout team for several years. Very few people saw this approach when the team was bad. But during their 2014-15 run, many noticed the team hardly ever struck out.

This bat-to-ball philosophy made great headlines because it opposed the trend of rising strikeouts. That the Royals succeeded in winning games made the contrast even greater. We remember Salvador Perez’s single past a diving Josh Donaldson that won the 2014 AL Wild Card game. We remember Alcides Escobar’s first-inning, first-pitch inside-the-park home run in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. And we remember Eric Hosmer scoring the tying run of Game 5 on a weak Perez grounder to David Wright.

Put the ball in play, they said, and good things will happen.

That’s advice the 2016 Royals could use. Despite returning several members of the 2014-15 teams, this year’s iteration doesn’t avoid strikeouts well.

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Surprise, the Royals Have a New Relief Weapon

The Kansas City Royals, like any team would, have missed Wade Davis in his absence, but they haven’t really missed Wade Davis. Davis, of course, would make any bullpen better. But since Kansas City’s star closer last pitched nearly a month ago to the day, the Royals bullpen has performed as well as it has all season. Over the last 30 days, the unit’s run a league-best 1.95 ERA, good for a league-best 2.8 RA9-WAR, and the same group has run a league-best 3.15 FIP, good for a league-best 1.5 FIP-WAR. As the Royals have surged back into the fringe of the playoff discussion, the bullpen’s been a big reason why, and it’s done so without its centerpiece.

Part of it’s been de facto closer Kelvin Herrera. He’s recorded a 2.77 ERA and a 2.99 FIP in Davis’ absence, and gone 8-for-8 in save chances. Joakim Soria‘s played a big role, too. He’s seemingly corrected his early-season woes and posted a 2.03 ERA and 2.85 FIP in the last month. Peter Moylan‘s pitched well, and Chris Young hasn’t given up a run since July 26. But neither Herrera nor Soria nor Moylan nor Young’s been the biggest part of Kansas City’s bullpen since Davis went down. No, the most important reliever in Kansas City since Davis hit the disabled list is the guy who only got called up because Davis hit the disabled list.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.26.26 AM

Matt Strahm, over the last month, has put up a 0.84 ERA and 0.43 FIP in the first 10.2 innings of his big-league career. The 24-year-old lefty, drafted in the 21st round of the 2012 draft, has struck out 19 of the 40 batters he’s faced and walked three. Six hits, no homers, one run.

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The Royals Are Having the Most Royals Month Ever

On July 31st, the Royals were basically dead in the water. On the day before the team had to make a final buy, sold, or hold decision, KC stood at 49-55, 12 games out of first place in the AL Central. They’d been outscored by 59 runs. And to top it off, Wade Davis had to go back on the DL with a flexor strain, signaling that he hadn’t been able to get past the arm problems that had already cost him part of the season. The Royals hadn’t been very good with him in 2016, and now were looking at likely spending the rest of the season without one of the main reasons they’ve been able to win the last few years.

And yet, despite four months of struggles and Davis’ absence, since the calendar flipped over to August, the Royals have been almost unbeatable. They’ve reeled off 16 wins in 21 games, including their last nine, and have breathed some life back into a season that looked to be dead and buried. The graph of their end-of-season expected record tells the story pretty well.

chart (40)

In a season of ups and downs, August has been the biggest up so far, and unsurprisingly, the Royals have been winning games with the same kind of crazy formula that allowed them to make a couple of postseason runs the last two years.

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Baseball Is Wonderful and Horrible: Two Pictures

I just wrote a little bit about Joc Pederson making gains in his ability to make contact. The first commenter underneath got me thinking about Javier Baez. In the Pederson post, I began by reflecting on George Springer, but Baez was a little like Springer to an even somehow more extreme degree. When Baez was a prospect, it’s possible no one else had his maximum bat speed. But at the same time, few shared his propensity for swinging and missing. Fold in an over-aggressive approach and every single at-bat was boom or bust.

Baez got extended playing time as a rookie in 2014. During the PITCHf/x era, there have been more than 3,000 player seasons with at least 200 plate appearances. Baez posted the lowest contact rate out of all of them, at 59%. He wasn’t too hard to diagnose. Barring something almost unbelievable, Baez would need to get better at contact in order to have a real big-league career.

Good news! Javier Baez is making it. He’s 23, he has a league-average wRC+, and this is how his contact has gone:


He still misses the ball, and he still swings at a whole lot of pitches out of the strike zone, but where Baez as a rookie struck out an impossible 42% of the time, now he’s down to 25%. Javier Baez is putting things together. He should factor firmly into the Cubs’ plans, if nothing else but as a valuable trade asset. The bat is meeting the ball more often, and that was always going to be the struggle.

Shifting gears, turn your attention to the Royals. Last offseason, the Royals re-signed Alex Gordon, getting something of a hometown discount in the process. I wrote about that, and here’s a quick excerpt!

[…]one, Gordon shouldn’t hit the wall all of a sudden[…]

Gordon this year has been worth 0.3 WAR. After back-to-back wRC+ marks of 122, this year he’s down at 77. Even more troubling, Gordon hasn’t been hitting the baseball. His approach and his results were always consistent. In a sense I guess they might still be considered consistent, but they are also much much worse. Gordon’s career contact:


There’s nothing subtle about that. And you could blame a wrist injury he sustained toward the end of May, but there’s something curious — Gordon, before that, batted 166 times, with bad offense and an elevated strikeout rate. Gordon, after that, has batted 171 times, with bad offense and an elevated strikeout rate. Alex Gordon was having problems making contact before getting hurt, so I don’t know what one’s supposed to make of that. Gordon has gone through ruts before, and he’s earned the benefit of the doubt. But this is worrisome, not just because Gordon is a franchise legend, but also because the Royals are a team that can’t afford to spend such big money on underachievers. Don’t sleep on Gordon as one of the big reasons why these Royals probably aren’t getting back to the playoffs.

Baseball is wonderful and baseball is horrible. There’s evidence for both of these everywhere, but Baez and Gordon are stuck in my mind. As recently as 2014, Gordon had the higher wRC+ by 69 points. He had the higher contact rate by 19 points. Now it’s 2016, and they’ve both cleared 300 trips to the plate. Baez has been the better hitter. And so much more improbably, Baez has made more frequent contact. I’ll be damned. This is a hell of a thing that we watch.

Danny Duffy’s Greatest Game

Perhaps lost a bit in the trade-deadline shuffle, Kansas City left-hander Danny Duffy pitched one of the very best games of the year this past Monday. On the road against Tampa Bay, he had a no-hitter going until the eighth inning. By the time that inning had ended, Duffy had recorded 16 strikeouts against just one hit and one walk. After a fairly mediocre 2015 season spent mostly in the rotation, Duffy looked to be the next in line to become a very good reliever on a Royals team that has had its fair share. For the first month of the season Duffy pitched quite well out of the pen, but since the middle of May, he’s been a part of the rotation. Jeff Sullivan chronicled Duffy’s rise in the middle of June, noting in particular the lefty’s ability to throw for strikes, and hitters’ general inability to hit those strikes.

The numbers Sullivan cited in his post six weeks ago have remained good since then. Danny Duffy is generally a strike-thrower, keeping the ball in the zone 53% of the time this season, a figure which ranks sixth out of 95 qualified pitchers. Nor is he necessarily pitching to contact, however: his 78% Z-Contact rate is third in baseball behind only knuckleballer Steven Wright and Max Scherzer. Hitters haven’t fared too much better outside of the zone: his 56.6% O-Contact rate is 13th among qualifiers. His overall contact percentage (72%) and swinging-strike percentage (14.3%) sit behind only the figures produced by Jose Fernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Michael Pineda, Max Scherzer, and Noah Syndergaard. His 62% first-strike rate is good, but closer to the middle of the pack.

In Duffy’s brilliant game against he Rays, his first-strike percentage was actually a tad lower than normal at 53.9%, and his zone percentage was just a bit under 50%. Where Duffy excelled was getting the Rays to chase the ball outside the strike zone. Of the pitches outside of the strike zone, Rays batters swung at 44% of them and made contact on just 20% of swings.

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Trade Deadline 2016 Omnibus Post

As it has been the past few years, the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline brought about a flurry of activity that was hard to keep up with even if it was the only thing you were doing. Since most of us have other things that we have to or would like to occupy our time with, we figured we would save you some hassle and create an omnibus post with all of our trade deadline content so that you have it all in one place. For clarity’s sake, I’m going to limit this to articles about trades that actually took place.

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Projecting the Prospects Traded Over the Weekend

A bevy of trades went down over the weekend, as this year’s trade deadline-season entered into full swing. Here are the prospects who changed teams the last couple of days, as evaluated by my newly updated KATOH system. KATOH denotes WAR forecast for first six years of player’s major-league career. KATOH+ uses similar methodology with consideration also for Baseball America’s rankings.

The Andrew Miller Trade

Clint Frazier, OF, New York (AL)


Frazier had been promoted to Triple-A a week ago after slashing a strong .276/.356/.469 with 13 steals at Double-A this year. He pairs a high walk rate with decent power and speed, making him one of the most promising offensive prospects in baseball. Despite possessing average speed, Frazier plays mostly the corner-outfield spots these days, and hasn’t graded out particularly well there defensively. This suggests most of his big-league value will come from his hitting. Still, considering he’s a 21-year-old who’s already mastered Double-A, his future looks bright.

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Royals Get the Other Jarrod Dyson

Look, I know why you’re here. You want to read about deadline trades, and, more specifically, you want to read about impactful deadline trades. This is a post about the A’s trading Billy Burns to the Royals in exchange for Brett Eibner. I know exactly what we’re dealing with, so I won’t take up too much of your time. I’ll just leave some information and get out of here.

Why might the Royals like Burns? He’s under team control forever, he makes a ton of contact, he’s fast, and he’s a proven center fielder. Pretty solid foundation, all things considered. Why might the A’s like Eibner? He’s under team control forever, he has some power, he’s not unathletic, and he’s mostly played center in the minors. I’m not going to say this trade fell along party lines, since neither the Royals nor the A’s are actually caricatures of real front offices, but Burns and Eibner are probably both now in friendlier homes.

Burns is the one with the big-league track record. What’s interesting — last year he was a league-average hitter, and this year his wRC+ has gone down by literally half. Yet his overall profile has been pretty similar. He puts the ball in play, and he runs. Last year there were better outcomes. I want to show you something somewhat discouraging. In this plot are all the hitters who have batted at least 500 times over the past three calendar years. I’ve plotted them by pop-up rate and rate of home runs per fly ball:


For Burns, that’s bad. In the sample, he has the game’s highest pop-up rate, but one of the game’s lowest rates of homers per fly. It’s not just a product of playing in Oakland, either, based on his splits. Billy Burns hasn’t shown good enough bat control, and with these balls in play it would be tremendously difficult for him to produce at all, long-term. Another point that isn’t exactly in his favor: here are the five lowest hard-hit rates from the sample.

Burns isn’t just in last — he’s in last by a few percentage points, which is a bad look. He simply doesn’t hit the baseball very hard. Borrowing from Baseball Savant: last year, in average exit velocity on flies and liners, Burns was tied for fourth-lowest. This year, he’s second-lowest. He doesn’t hit the ball hard, so he doesn’t flash much power, and because he doesn’t flash much power, pitchers challenge him, so he’s mostly unable to draw walks. He’s a ball-in-play sort, and that can make it hard to succeed.

But! It’s not impossible. Last year happened. Dee Gordon put together two productive years. Burns has a career wRC+ of 85, which makes him a lot like Dyson, his new teammate. Dyson might be the superior defender, but Burns is versatile, and he runs the bases well. Dyson isn’t controlled for too much longer; Burns is controlled for a while. Maybe he’s just a useful fourth outfielder, but he shouldn’t be useless, assuming he’s a better hitter than his 2016 statistics.

With Eibner, the A’s are betting on a bat. That he’s manned center in the minors shows he’s got some defensive skill, but mostly, his appeal is the consecutive productive years in Triple-A. He’s already 27, so he’s almost a Quadruple-A player, yet many believe those don’t exist. Count the A’s among them. In the high minors, Eibner has shown some discipline without having big contact problems. And, over a brief spell this year in the majors, Eibner ranked in the 85th percentile in average exit velocity on flies and liners. The pop in his bat is real. He just needs to be able to translate his eye. If he does that, he’s already an average player.

It’s an unsexy move, made between two teams currently going nowhere. A couple days from now, no one’s going to remember this ever happened. Every trade, though, is interesting if you dig into it. Here we have the Royals betting on athleticism, and the A’s betting on results. Sounds like the Royals. Sounds like the A’s.

Another Name for the Royals to Float

Things haven’t gone very well for the Royals this season. On that matter, we can all agree, right? Injuries have been a major problem, and injuries aren’t always “fair,” but what happens happens, and with the deadline coming up, the Royals aren’t in a great position. They’re eight and a half games out of first in their division, with three teams in front, and they’re only a couple games closer to a wild-card spot, with even more teams in front. No team wants to concede, and especially not a defending champ, but the Royals can probably tell this is unlikely to be their year. It’s not a coincidence they’re listening on Wade Davis. The Royals could be helped by doing some selling.

Some rumors have surrounded Davis. Other rumors have surrounded Ian Kennedy, if only when linked to Davis. Luke Hochevar has drawn attention to himself. Edinson Volquez has gotten some press. One name, to my knowledge, has been curiously absent. Danny Duffy is having a breakthrough season, and it feels like the Royals should make his availability known.

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Wade Davis, the Ultimate Deadline Gamble

The Royals are apparently listening to offers for Wade Davis. The Royals would be stupid if they didn’t listen to offers for Wade Davis. Any team would be stupid if it didn’t listen to offers for anyone. Listening comes at basically zero cost! There seems to be a real chance here, though, a chance of something happening. The Royals haven’t been very good, and while Davis has another year of control, you know where the reliever market is. If nothing else, you have to find out. You have to see what a guy like Davis could pull.

Davis could represent a proven, dominant addition. There’s no questioning his track record, and he was fantastic in last year’s playoffs. Davis is right there in the argument for the best reliever in the game, and relievers are being valued more highly than ever. It’s easy to see why Davis could command a huge trade return. It’s also easy to see how he could bust. These negotiations might well be complicated, because Davis looks like one massive gamble.

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Calculating Ian Kennedy’s Negative Trade Value

At 49-51, 8 1/2 games out of first place, the Royals sound like they realize they’re probably not contenders this year, and with a few days to go before the trade deadline, they’re now listening to offers for their best trade chips. Given the price of relievers these days, Wade Davis is pretty clearly their most valuable asset, and the Royals could expect to get back a significant haul for him, given that he’s also under contract for 2017.

But according to Jeff Passan, the team might be looking to use Davis to do something besides add young talent to the organization.

So that’s an interesting idea. By tying Kennedy to Davis, the price in talent would come down, which would likely make a deal more appealing to a team like LA — we’ve seen the Dodgers take on plenty of dead-money deals in order to acquire or retain prospects in previous trades — and would give the Royals the flexibility to reallocate Kennedy’s money to other free agents this winter, which would allow them to essentially make a trade for 2017 assets instead of prospects who might not be able to help before the rest of their core players hit free agency.

On the surface, the idea makes some sense, but it also brings up a question; how much negative value does Kennedy have at this point? How much of a discount on the talent portion of the trade would the Royals have to give in order to free themselves from the rest of Kennedy’s deal? Let’s do the math.

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