The Royals have acquired outfielder Melky Cabrera and cash from the White Sox in exchange for minor league righty A.J. Puckett and minor league lefty Andre Davis, the White Sox announced. Kansas City has designated minor league righty Andrew Edwards for assignment in a corresponding roster move, tweets MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal tweets that the White Sox are paying about half of the roughly $5.2MM that Cabrera is still owed on this year’s $15MM salary. Cabrera is a free agent at season’s end.
Cabrera, 32, will return for his second stint with the Royals — though things are different in Kansas City this time around. Cabrera had a fine year in Royal Blue back in 2011, hitting .305/.339/.470 with 18 homers and 20 steals as a 26-year-old. However, the Royals finished out that season 20 games below .500 and finished fourth in the American League Central.
Now in his second Royals tenure, Cabrera joins the team not as an up and coming outfielder but as an established veteran that will be inserted into a potential playoff contender’s lineup. The switch-hitter has a strong .295/.336/.436 batting line through 428 plate appearances this season, and he’s been especially effective against left-handed pitching (.296/.327/.500). That was surely an area of focus for GM Dayton Moore with tomorrow’s non-waiver deadline approaching, as the Royals have posted a collective .250/.305/.415 — good for just an 87 wRC+ that ranks 20th in the Majors.
For the White Sox, the 22-year-old Puckett is the more highly regarded pickup in this deal. The Pepperdine product was selected with the 67th overall pick in the 2016 draft and ranks as the Royals’ No. 13 prospect, per Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. In 108 1/3 innings this season, Puckett has worked to a 3.90 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 48.9 percent ground-ball rate. Callis and Mayo note that Puckett is more about pitchability than power, with a 90-94 mph fastball and a plus changeup. Their report also pegs the 6’4″, 200-pound righty’s control at above-average, despite the 3.8 BB/9 rate that Puckett has turned in this season.
Davis, 23, was the Royals’ eighth-rounder in 2015 and has spent the season pitching against younger competition in Class-A Lexington. In 85 2/3 innings out of the rotation, he’s posted a 4.82 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 43.9 percent grounder rate. He’s been exclusively a starter this season, but if that track doesn’t pan out, Davis’ numbers against lefties in Class-A are solid; he’s held same-handed opponents to a .216/.289/.352 batting line through 97 plate appearances in 2017.
Edwards, 25, has spent the bulk of the 2017 season with Kansas City’s Double-A affiliate in Northwest Arkansas. He’s punched out 34 hitters in 30 2/3 innings but has also struggled to a 7.92 ERA after allowing 45 hits and 14 walks in that same time frame.
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