As the trade deadline approaches, the Royals will be in the market for bench pieces and possibly a right fielder to replace incumbent Nori Aoki, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. While the team’s scouts have been spotted watching several starters who are expected to be available, McCullough indicates that the front office’s focus is on other needs.
While Kansas City has suffered from less than optimal performances from other positions — second, third, and designated hitter chief among them — the players occupying those slots enjoy firmer commitments from the club. Omar Infante just inked a four-year deal; Mike Moustakas was a key organizational prospect who is still young; and Billy Butler is nearing the end of a large extension.
Meanwhile, Aoki has had an underwhelming run in Kansas City since coming over via trade. Set to reach free agency at the end of the year, the 32-year-old owns a .263/.326/.324 trple-slash through 292 plate appearances. After posting 3+ rWAR seasons in his first two years in the league, Aoki has dipped below replacement level, with advanced metrics also disliking his defensive work. McCullough cites Marlon Byrd of the Phillies and Seth Smith of the Padres as possible targets.
As for the bench, McCullough says that backup catcher Brett Hayes and utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco are both susceptible to being replaced. While neither has seen much action (36 and 49 plate appearances, respectively), that also shows that they are providing little function in reserve.