The Royals announced that outfielder Brewer Hicklen has been traded to the Phillies. The return on the deal wasn’t listed, though trades of this nature usually see cash considerations going the other way. Hicklen was eligible to be traded after the deadline because he wasn’t on a 40-man roster or major league injured list at any point this season.
Hicklen, 27, will join a new organization for the first time in his career, as he was drafted by the Royals in 2017 and has been with them ever since. He has climbed to the upper levels of the minors and even got to make his major league debut in 2022, getting into six games as a COVID replacement player but striking out in all four of his plate appearances.
He has occasionally been considered one of the Royals’ top 30 prospects, with his best attribute being his speed. He’s racked up double-digit steals in each of his professional seasons, often getting into the 30-40 range. He also has notable power at the plate but has often paired home runs with big strikeout totals.
He spent most of last year at Triple-A, getting into 130 games there. He hit 28 homers and swiped 35 bags but was also punched out in 36.1% of his plate appearances. His .248/.348/.502 batting line still amounted to a wRC+ of 122, despite the strikeout concerns. Here in 2023, he’s been back in Triple-A, getting into 61 contests. He’s reduced his strikeout rate to 24.6% but with diminished production overall. His .233/.338/.451 line translates to a wRC+ of 93, though he’s added another 15 steals in that time.
Rosters are set to expand from 26 to 28 players in September, a time when many clubs like to add a speedy player to the bench for pinch running purposes, a role that Hicklen would certainly be a good candidate for. By acquiring him prior to September 1, he will also be eligible to join the Phils in the postseason. He will qualify for minor league free agency at season’s end if not added to the 40-man roster. For now, he’ll add some minor league depth behind the club’s regular outfield of Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber, Johan Rojas and Jake Cave.