Cuas, 29, bounced around the minors before cracking Kansas City’s roster last summer. He has made 92 appearances in middle relief over the past two seasons. The right-hander owns a 4.08 ERA across 79 1/3 career innings. He has seen a big jump in whiffs year-over-year, pushing his strikeout rate from a modest 18.9% as a rookie to 27.1% this season. He’s picking up swinging strikes on an above-average 13.3% of his offerings.
The University of Maryland product works with a sinker-slider mix from a lower arm slot. He doesn’t throw especially hard but has missed plenty of bats with his low-80s slider. He’ll step into the middle innings mix and can bounce between Chicago and Triple-A Iowa for a while. He still has two minor league options year remaining and won’t be eligible for arbitration until at least after the 2024 campaign.
In exchange, the Royals get a look at Velázquez. A right-handed hitting outfielder, he picked up some prospect attention on the strength of his power potential early in his career. The former fifth-round draftee struggled to a .205/.286/.373 line while striking out almost 32% of the time in 77 games as a rookie last season. He has mashed in a small big league sample this year but spent the bulk of the season with Iowa.
Over 330 trips to the dish there, the 24-year-old Velázquez owns a .253/.333/.469 batting line. He’s connected on 16 home runs but struck out in just under 30% of his plate appearances. He’s playing mostly center field but has generally been viewed as a better fit for a corner by prospect evaluators.
In recent years, the Royals have rolled the dice on a few upper level outfielders with above-average tools but swing-and-miss concerns. Kansas City has given looks to the likes of Edward Olivares and Drew Waters. Velázquez has a generally similar profile and will compete for reps in an uncertain outfield at Kauffman Stadium. He has one minor league option beyond this season and is at least two years away from arbitration.