The Royals are casting a wide net in their search for upgrades on the trade market and have shown signs of interest in Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Ben Zobrist, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
The Reds have, in fact, received inquiries from multiple clubs on Cueto, Leake and Aroldis Chapman, Morosi continues, but Cincinnati is still reluctant to engage in serious trade discussions despite sitting 12.5 games back in the NL Central. Likewise, Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, hears that the A’s are in no rush to move Zobrist, as the team is still trying to get back into the race (Twitter link). Rosenthal adds that it’s not entirely clear if the Royals have inquired on Zobrist specifically, but they’ve discussed upgrading at second base, making Zobrist a logical target.
Many pundits feel that while a sale of veteran pieces is only a matter of time for the Reds, they’ll wait until after hosting next month’s All-Star Game before doing so. It would, after all, be a bitter pill to swallow for Cincinnati natives to watch Cueto and Chapman pitch in the All-Star Game while wearing another club’s jersey.
On last week’s MLBTR Podcast, Jeff Todd and I discussed the Reds’ trade possibilities at length. I posited that given the sheer volume of appealing pieces the team could trade, it’s possible that Cincinnati could enjoy a Braves-esque turnaround by willingly listening to offers on not only Cueto, Chapman and Leake, but also Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier.
As for the Athletics, their reluctance to throw in the towel has been noted before, but the team remains 10 games under .500 and 10 games out of first in the AL West even after going 17-11 over the past month. They’re a slightly more manageable eight games back from a second consecutive Wild Card playoff berth, but there’s a clear uphill battle for the A’s to become serious contenders again.
From the Royals’ standpoint, it’s not hard to see why they’d be interested in an upgrade at second base. Setting aside the avalanche of Omar Infante/All-Star jokes already pouring in on Twitter, Kansas City second basemen have combined to hit a woeful .230/.248/.307 this season. Of course, Infante is owed a significant $22.01MM through the end of the 2017 season. (That number will rise by $500K if he does indeed start the All-Star game.)
A rotation upgrade would seem sensible for Royals GM Dayton Moore as well; the Kansas City rotation has produced just a 4.37 ERA this season (21st in the league), and metrics such as FIP and xFIP feel that’s a pretty fair indicator of what to expect based on the talent the Royals are working with. Just three pitchers have made 10 or more starts for the Royals this year, and two of them are Yordano Ventura and Jeremy Guthrie, who have posted respective ERAs of 4.68 and 5.55. Both Cueto and Leake, then, stand out as logical trade targets for the first-place Royals, while on the Oakland side of the equation, names like Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez could come into play. Cueto, Leake and Kazmir are all free agents at season’s end, where the late-blooming and somewhat unheralded Chavez is controllable through the 2016 season.