Kansas City Royals Rumors

Kansas City Royals trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Royals Interested In Martin Prado, Ben Zobrist

JULY 27: Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets that the Royals are expected to remain in the Ben Zobrist market “until the end,” which adds another versatile target to the list of Royals targets.

Zobrist, unlike Prado, is a rental player that’s eligible for free agency this offseason. He’s a bit more affordable, though, earning $7.5MM this season (of which $2.9MM remains). Zobrist is a better hitter than Prado and comes with the bonus of being a switch-hitter. He’s batting .268/.354/.447 and would be an excellent stopgap for Kansas City until Gordon is healthy enough to return to the lineup. Upon his activation, Zobrist would then be an immediate upgrade over Infante. The Athletics, who have already traded Scott Kazmir and could soon trade Tyler Clippard, are believed to be willing to part with Zobrist as well.

The Royals, it seems, will remain active even after picking up Johnny Cueto from the Reds in what has easily been the largest trade of the summer thus far.

JULY 26: The Royals have interest in Marlins infielder Martin Prado, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. The 31-year-old Prado recently returned from a shoulder injury and is batting .277/.316/.374 in 308 plate appearances in his first season in Miami. He’s making $11MM this season and next, although the Yankees are paying $3MM of that in each season. Morosi notes that the Royals would need to receive cash from the Marlins in the deal. Whether the Marlins would agree to send any is unclear — another recent report indicated that they weren’t interested in dealing Prado at all.

In any case, the Royals have a good player, Mike Moustakas, at third base, where Prado has played most of this year. But Royals second baseman Omar Infante has mostly struggled, so Prado could potentially help at that position. Also, he can help the Royals in the corner outfield while they wait for Alex Gordon to return from the DL — right fielder Alex Rios has hit just .256/.290/.333 this season.


More Fallout From The Johnny Cueto Trade

We already collected one set of reactions to the trade of Johnny Cueto to the Royals. Here are a few more odds and ends from the deal.

  • In Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed and John Lamb, the Reds are receiving three potential big-league starters, MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes. The Reds sacrificed a draft pick as a result of trading Cueto, but the three lefties they received have more than enough talent to make up for it. The Royals, meanwhile, traded from solid minor league pitching depth.
  • The Yankees scouted Cueto for five weeks, George A. King III of the New York Post writes. The Yankees and Reds also had brief discussions involving Cueto and Yankees starter Ivan Nova, but the talks did not develop. It is, of course, highly unlikely that Nova could have been centerpiece of any Cueto trade. The Yankees have thus far been unwilling to trade top prospects like Aaron Judge, Luis Severino or Greg Bird.
  • The Dodgers did have talks with the Reds about Cueto, GM Farhan Zaidi tells CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman (Twitter links). Zaidi thinks the Dodgers will be able to consummate some other trade before Friday’s deadline, presumably one involving starting pitching. Within the Dodgers’ clubhouse, Heyman writes, some players were disappointed that the team didn’t get Cueto, and would like the team to pursue David Price now that Cueto is off the market.

Quick Hits: Royals, Pirates, Dodgers, Benoit

Here’s a roundup of the latest trade-deadline-related news:

  • The Royals are still working to upgrade their bench, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets.  Kansas City is looking at both infielders and outfielders to improve its reserve group.
  • Rays reliever Kevin Jepsen is now a stronger trade candidate now that the Rays have slipped to 49-51, Morosi tweets.  Jepsen, who is eligible for free agency after the 2016 season, owns a 2.88 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 through 45 appearances this season.
  • Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is adamant that his team should not sell before the deadline, Chris Iott of MLive.com writes.
  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington says that he’s not necessarily done shopping even after acquiring Aramis Ramirez, Adam Berry of MLB.com writes.  “We’ve shored up what we felt was our biggest soft spot. We’ll continue to look,” Huntington said. “It just gives us some versatility and flexibility to find where we think the next best match and next best fit is.”  However, he wouldn’t specify what area he might target in the coming days.
  • One issue for the Dodgers is that they aren’t willing to part with top prospects Corey Seager or Julio Urias, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.  At that point, there’s a big dropoff to whoever their No. 3 prospect might be, whether it’s pitcher Jose De Leon or someone else.
  • The perception in the market is that the Padres will definitely move Joaquin Benoit before the deadline, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.


Reactions To Johnny Cueto Trade

After months of speculation, the Reds finally parted ways with pitcher Johnny Cueto.  On Sunday, the Reds and Royals finalized a deal that sends Cueto to KC for pitchers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed.  In this deal, the Reds landed two lefties who could blossom into mid-rotation starters and a third lefty who can be placed in the back of their rotation right away, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America writes.  Here’s a look at some of the reactions to the Cueto deal..

  • It’s unlikely that the Reds will reacquire Cueto in free agency this winter, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets.  Rosecrans wouldn’t be surprised to see the Reds make a run at Mike Leake – another rumored trade candidate – this winter, but he doesn’t expect that reunion to happen either.
  • Cueto told reporters “It’s a good trade. But I am sad,” Nick Groke of The Denver Post tweets.
  • If Cueto gets the Royals where they want to go in 2015, it won’t matter whether he stays or leaves, Richard Justice of MLB.com writes.  GM Dayton Moore definitely weakened his farm system, but Cueto gives them a chance to win big this year.
  • One AL scout told Jack Magruder of The Sports Xchange (on Twitter) that Reed is the sleeper in the deal.  That scout sees Reed’s future as a reliever and also feels that Finnegan best fits in a bullpen.
  • Finnegan and Lamb will head to Triple-A, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets.  Finnegan will be used as a starter.
  • The Reds did well in the deal considering that Cueto is a rental, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweets.  Finnegan and Lamb, he says, both need more time to develop but they both have upside.
  • The Reds got a great return, but this was a deal the Royals had to make, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • Here’s a sneak peek at what Cueto might look like in his new Royals jersey, from our official Instagram page.  For the latest from MLBTR on Instagram, follow us today – @traderumorsMLB.

Royals Acquire Johnny Cueto From Reds

The Reds announced that Johnny Cueto has been traded to the Royals for left-handed pitchers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed.  The Reds are also sending cash considerations to KC, according to the Royals’ press release.

Cueto, 29, is months from his first shot at free agency, and the fourth-place Reds were been rumored to be shopping him for a while now. Along with the Royals, the Dodgers and Blue Jays were among teams that have been connected to Cueto. However, KC has come out on top.

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Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

[RELATED: Latest On Cole Hamels]

Cueto impressed in his final start as a member of the Reds when he threw eight shutout innings at Coors Field on Saturday night.  Just minutes prior to the game, the right-hander wasn’t sure if he’d even be getting the start.  The possibility of a KC trade apparently was so close last night that pitcher Michael Lorenzen had been warming up before the game, prepared to take Cueto’s place.  The deal fell through, for a time, but the two teams reconnected Sunday morning to complete a swap.

Cueto has been a rumored trade candidate for some time now but the Reds were apparently reluctant to move any of their key pieces before this year’s All-Star Game, which was played in Cincinnati.  Now that the All-Star festivities are in the rear view mirror and the Reds are at 43-52, there was little reason for them to hang on to the ace.  Cueto is earning a relatively modest $10MM salary in 2015, of which less than $4.3MM remains.

Through 19 starts this season, Cueto has posted a 2.62 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9.  For his career, Cueto has posted a 3.21 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 across eight seasons with the Reds.  Cueto didn’t get to pitch in front of his fans in this year’s All-Star game but he did earn an All-Star nod in 2014, his best complete season to date.

Finnegan, a left-hander, was rated as the No. 55 prospect in the nation by Baseball America heading into the 2015 season.  In seven starts and four relief appearances this season between the Double-A and Triple-A levels, Finnegan has posted a 5.00 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 6.3 BB/9.  Those numbers aren’t impressive, but they also came in a limited sample size of 27 innings.  At the big league level this year, Finnegan owns a 2.96 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 in 14 relief appearances.

Rated as the No. 18 prospect in the country by Baseball America prior to 2011, the 25-year-old Lamb has ascended the ranks of KC’s farm system but has yet to make his big league debut.  Tommy John surgery in 2011 kept him from pitching for the better part of two seasons and slowed his development.  So far this season, however, he’s looking sharp in Triple-A Omaha, pitching to a 2.67 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 17 starts. In years past, BA has praised Lamb for his control and changeup.

Reed, a left-handed reliever, has split his time between Advanced-A ball and Double-A this year.  Across 15 starts and three relief appearances, the 2013 second-round pick has pitched to a 2.53 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.

The agreement was first reported byKen Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  Details added by Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter), Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter), Mark Sheldon of MLB.com (on Twitter), and John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter).


Royals Nearly Acquired Cueto; Deal Fell Through

SUNDAY, 10:38am: The Royals remain “hopeful” they can revive the Cueto deal with the Reds, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

8:47am: The two sides are still discussing a deal that would send Cueto to Kansas City, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweets.

SATURDAY, 11:46pm: The Royals were close to acquiring Reds ace Johnny Cueto tonight, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX SportsThe reporters hear that one of the players the Reds would have acquired “did not check out medically,” causing the deal to fall through.

Tonight at Coors Field, Cueto tossed eight scoreless innings in what might have been his final start in a Reds uniform.  The deal with the Royals was apparently close enough that Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen had been warming up before the game, prepared to take Cueto’s place.  Cueto was not happy, later telling reporters, “I don’t want to use a bad word in this location, but it was really bad how I found out what happen.”  Mark Sheldon and Dargan Southard of MLB.com quoted catcher Brayan Pena describing Cueto, “I’m telling you, today he was on a mission.  I saw something in his eyes that I never saw before.”

Cueto, 29, now sports a 2.62 ERA in 130 2/3 innings this year.  He’s months from his first shot at free agency, and the fourth-place Reds seem likely to trade him by Friday’s deadline.  Along with the Royals, the Dodgers and Blue Jays are among the teams that have been linked to Cueto.  The first domino in the starting pitching market dropped Thursday when the Astros acquired Scott Kazmir.


Stark On Chapman, Shields, Cashner, Astros, Royals

The asking price on Reds closer Aroldis Chapman is currently said by one American League executive to be “exorbitant,” tweets ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Other clubs doubt that Reds owner Bob Castellini is open to allowing Chapman to be moved in a trade, according to Stark. This isn’t the first time that Castellini’s name has come up as a potential road block in trades. Peter Gammons recently noted that the Castellini remains reluctant to authorize a sale, even in late July, and others have reported similar feelings from Castellini over the course of the summer. Retaining Chapman would make some sense if the Reds felt they have the pieces in place to make a run in 2016, but he’s already earning $8.05MM (and that figures to jump into the $12MM range this offseason) and is only controlled for one more season.

A few more notes from around the league, courtesy of Stark (all Stark links point to Twitter)…

  • The Padres are listening to offers on their entire rotation, but they “really want to move” both James Shields and Andrew Cashner, Stark hears from other teams. Shields’ name has surfaced as an unexpected trade candidate in recent weeks, and it sounds like San Diego is very open to moving Shields’ backloaded deal. A team taking on Shields would need to be willing to commit three years and $64MM to him, barring financial help from the Padres, but there’s also the chance that Shields could opt out of the final two years of his contract. With a strong 2016 performance, he may feel that he can do better than the final $45MM he’s guaranteed over the 2017-18 seasons.
  • That the club “really wants to move” Cashner is a bit more puzzling. While Shields is an aging veteran that has the potential to handcuff future payroll flexibility with his sizable financial commitment, Cashner’s 28 years old and enjoying a solid season (though his 4.10 ERA is a bit worse than sabermetric marks such as his 3.69 xFIP). Cashner’s earning a very reasonable $4.05MM in 2015 and will receive a raise this offseason before qualifying for free agency after the 2016 campaign. He does have a lengthy injury history, so perhaps the thinking among the new San Diego brass is that his value won’t be higher than it is now, and they don’t want to risk a second half injury.
  • The Astros “aren’t done” after acquiring Scott Kazmir yesterday, per Stark. The team is still hunting for bullpen upgrades (GM Jeff Luhnow’s stated preference has been to add a “flamethrower,” if he upgrades the ‘pen at all) as well as corner outfield bats.
  • Similarly, the Royals aren’t targeting one specific area of upgrade, says Stark. Rival clubs say that Kansas City GM Dayton Moore appears to be “open to anything,” whether that means a rotation upgrade, an outfield bat or adding both to the mix.
  • There’s a sense among some clubs that tomorrow’s Cole Hamels start could have a great influence on his trade market, it seems, as Stark quotes one executive saying, “He’s pitched in the playoffs and World Series. But for that front office, this may be the biggest start he’s ever had.” The Phillies‘ ace has been torched in each of his past two starts.

Central Notes: Hamels, Price, Samardzija, ChiSox, Royals, Gonzales

The Cubs have been in discussions with the Phillies regarding Cole Hamels and are interested in adding him to their long-term rotation outlook, sources have told CSNChicago.com’s David Kaplan. The Cubs may also add an additional starter as a depth piece, though that acquisition isn’t expected to be significant, he continues. Kaplan also writes that, contrary to previous reports, the Tigers haven’t yet decided to market David Price. A final decision on whether they’ll take a shot at the postseason or sell veteran pieces could come either this weekend or by next Wednesday, Kaplan hears, though I’d imagine that wasting a gem from Price on a 3-2, extra innings loss to the Mariners was a tough pill for the Tigers to swallow as they determine their deadline strategy.

Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…

  • CSNChicago’s Dan Hayes spoke with Jeff Samardzija following an excellent Thursday start in which he fired eight innings of one-run ball. “It’s been totally silent on my end,” said Samardzija when asked about the possibility that he could be traded. Hayes asked a handful of scouts about Samardzija, with one feeling that he’s overhyped and more of a No. 2/No. 3 starter than a No. 1/No.2 starter. A second said that the White Sox could get a B-level prospect back, to which another replied that if that were the max return, Chicago would be better off holding Samardzija and taking a draft pick for him. Hayes writes that the Sox could potentially keep Samardzija in an attempt to re-sign him in free agency. He’s also since tweeted that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Sox tried to re-sign Samardzija this winter even if they do trade him.
  • The White Sox haven’t yet publicly waved a white flag, but they’re currently active in trade talks, hears ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). The Sox reportedly discussed Samardzija with the Astros prior to Houston’s acquisition of Scott Kazmir earlier this afternoon (also via Crasnick).
  • Despite injuries to Alex Gordon and Jason Vargas, Royals GM Dayton Moore tells MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that he’s not feeling pressure to make a trade. “I don’t know if [losing Vargas] changes our approach,” said Moore. “But it does hurt our depth. He was a big part of our team last year and we expected him to be a big part this year. We haven’t had him much of the year. When we’ve had him, he’s been great.” Moore says adding to the current roster is not a “must,” and any trades would depend on the cost of acquisition.
  • ESPN’s Keith Law reports that Cardinals southpaw Marco Gonzales is now being represented by CAA Sports (Twitter link). Gonzales, a former first-round pick, was previously represented by Rowley Sports Management. The 23-year-old made an appearance in the Majors last season, posting a 4.15 ERA in 34 2/3 innings, but he’s been limited to Triple-A action this season and also missed time due to injury. Gonzales’ change in representation will be reflected in the MLBTR Agency Database. Remember that if you see any errors or notable omissions, you can let us know via email: mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.

Deadline Rumors: Cespedes, Cishek, Price, Gallardo, Jays, Royals, Reds, Alvarez, Padres

In another twist regarding the free agent deal he signed out of Cuba, Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes would be effectively precluded from signing with the team as a free agent after this year unless he is traded away in the interim, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. It was already a matter of common knowledge that the club could not make him a qualifying offer after the year, since his deal requires that he be released five days after its conclusion. But Rosenthal now cites a CBA provision providing that a released player also cannot be re-signed by his club until May 15 of the ensuing year. While Detroit could hold Cespedes and attempt to work out an extension at any point up to five days after the World Series, it would otherwise be unable to bring him back unless he sat out a good portion of the 2016 campaign — a highly unlikely scenario. Of course, moving him now would prevent the team from working out a deal until the power-hitting outfielder becomes a free agent. As Rosenthal notes, Cespedes has told friends that he hopes to remain with the Tigers, and Detroit has given every indication that it intends to compete next year even if it moves some pieces this summer.

There are a ton of important deadline developments to cover in the wake of the Scott Kazmir trade, so let’s get to them:

  • There is increasing action on Marlins reliever Steve Cishek, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald report (Twitter links) that there are multiple clubs involved — some with more apparent interest than the previously-reported Cardinals. The Twins are among the teams continuing to monitor the righty, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
  • The Dodgers currently have David Price of the Tigers as their number one target, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. But the expectation is that Detroit will hold their decision until next week.
  • Indeed, the Giants recently spoke with the Tigers regarding outfielder Rajai Davis, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports on Twitter, but were left with the impression that Detroit is still unsure of its course of action.
  • Another player on the Dodgers radar is Rangers righty Yovani Gallardo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Though nothing is close, the two clubs have had discussions.
  • The Blue Jays sought to land Kazmir before he went to Houston, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. With the market beginning to move, the team appears to be ramping up is efforts to add a starter, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • Both the Blue Jays and the Royals are “all-in” on Reds starter Johnny Cueto, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden reports (Twitter links). Kansas City is also considering Mike Leake from Cincinnati as well as Jeff Samardzija, Dan Haren, and Mat Latos. But the club is not interested in Cole Hamels, James Shields, or Yovani Gallardo, per the report.
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty says he has a green light to sell pieces, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. They’ll make moves “if it makes sense, but we’re not going to give away players,” says Jocketty. “We’ve been talking with a lot of different people, but we haven’t been receiving offers that have us wanting to commit.”
  • One rival general manager tells Passan that the Pirates are working hard to move first baseman Pedro Alvarez (Twitter link). We’ve heard previously that Pittsburgh has interest in an upgrade, and presumably it would make an addition if it can find a taker for Alvarez.
  • Meanwhile, the Padres are officially open for business, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter). In addition to Justin Upton, the team could move relievers Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit, outfielder Will Venable, and any number of starters. Rosenthal says that Tyson Ross is perhaps the least likely rotation piece to change hands.

Rotation Rumors: Royals, Teheran, Price, Padres

The starting pitching market appears to be in flux, with numerous buyers reportedly considering an array of options and a variety of potential sellers weighing whether to deal away impact arms. Here are the latest rumors on the rotation front:

  • The Royals are interested in both Johnny Cueto of the Reds and Yovani Gallardo of the Rangers, as well as other arms, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Both, obviously, would be pure rental pieces, and we’ve mostly heard of Kansas City connected to half-year contracts. The club’s level of need certainly went up with the loss of Jason Vargas, though it’s unclear whether that will prompt any effort to add more than one pitcher.
  • Some rival executives believe that the Braves are willing to deal Julio Teheran, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. But an Atlanta source indicates that the team sees too much upside in the young righty (and his reasonably-priced extension) to consider such a move. Teheran, 24, has not matched his excellent results over the prior two seasons, but it does seem hard to imagine the club selling low on him unless president of baseball operations John Hart is just not a believer in his future.
  • Rosenthal also addresses the possibility of the Tigers dealing David Price, noting that the team is unlikely to retain him beyond this year if it doesn’t. If and when Detroit puts him on the market, some of the most obviously starting pitching buyers — the Dodgers, Cubs, Blue Jays, and Astros — would have interest, per the report.
  • The Padres are not only all ears on outfielder Justin Upton, but are “listening … intently” on soon-to-be free agent starter Ian Kennedy, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Meanwhile, rival executives say that San Diego would “love” to find a taker for righty James Shields. Given that we’ve also heard suggestions that the Padres are holding conversations regarding Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner, it would appear that the club is considering a variety of possible scenarios involving its staff.