Kansas City Royals – BlueJaysNation

I think we can all admit that there was no World Series winner in 2015.

While the Royals technically won everything, it was the Jays title that was up for grabs, and without a few crazy judges, the Jays likely would have become a three-time World Series champion.

Fast forward seven years and the Royals have done everything right since that title win. They started their rebuild many years ago, but the team has the worst record in MLB at 17-37.

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That doesn’t mean the team doesn’t have some good players who could help the Jays make some noise in the playoffs. Let’s look at the three players I think the Jays should target from the Royals.

Imagine winning the World Series in 2018 and getting shipped to Kansas City just two seasons later. Such is the case for left fielder Andrew Benintendi.

Statistics:

Despite playing for the Red Sox in his first five seasons, Benintendi is a player I enjoy watching. For his career, he’s flattened .277/.350/.435 with 70 homers in 2862 plate appearances. He is a career 109 wRC+ hitter and has a BB% of 9.7 and a K% of 18.5%.

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In every season he’s had over 150 plate appearances, the left fielder has hit double-digit home runs, making him an ideal target if you’re looking to platoon Gurriel and a left-hitting outfielder.

This season, he’s posting a career-best .320/.382/.411 with just two homers in 220 plate appearances. However, his wRC+ is also at a career high of 132 and his K% is down to 14.5%, which will be a career high if he maintains it.

While home run totals aren’t in yet, it’s important to remember that the Royals play at Kauffman Stadium, a notorious pitcher’s park.

Defensively, he has 32 career defensive runs down left field, including +2 this season. His Outs Above Average is a career -16 but has been an average as of 2020.

Benintendi also played in midfield, posting a career -7 DRS and -1 OAA. However, he has not played at the center since 2019.

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Contract:

The 27-year-old has earnings of $8,500,000 for the remainder of 2022 and will be a free agent by the end of the season. While Benintendi will likely cost a few prospects and could go free later, the production he would play at Rogers Center would make the acquisition worth it.

Unfortunately, the Jays couldn’t make a qualifying offer to Benintendi as they would take him on mid-season. This means he’s a loan-only player unless the Jays decide to re-sign him.

Position requirement:

Benintendi is a left-hander who hits left fielder who would be an upgrade over Ramiel Tapia and Bradley Zimmer. He certainly fits a position need. I alluded to that earlier, but a train role between him and Loudres Gurriel Jr. could be a huge advantage for the team.

I will always include a reliever in each issue of this series as I believe a team can never have enough arms in the pen. This time we’re focusing on Scott Barlow, the Royals’ closer player.

Statistics:

Scott really set the baw low in his first three seasons in the bigs. During that period, he posted a 4.14 ERA and a 3.43 FIP in 115.1 innings. That’s not bad by any means, but unlike the pitcher he is today, he looked like a garbage time pitcher.

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In his last two seasons, he has a 2.22 ERA and a 2.95 FIP in 97.1 innings. In 2022, he has a sky-low ERA of 1.57 while his FIP is at a career low of 3.96.

For his career, his K/9 is 10.96 while his BB/9 is 3.60. While his BB/9 has fallen to 3.13 from 2022, his K/9 has also fallen to 8.61, which is a career low.

Contract:

What would make Barlow so expensive is the fact that he is under team control until the end of the 2024 season. This season, Barlow is making $2,400,000, which hardly affects the Blue Jays’ payroll.

Position requirement:

Although Baseball Reference classifies it as closer, I think it’s better to call Barlow a high-leverage lever. Last season, he recorded 16 saves but also 14 holds, essentially meaning he held the lead to finish.

It’s similar this season as he has recorded five saves and four holds. If the Jays acquired Barlow, I could see him as the setup man for Jordan Romano.

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Finally, we have Whit Merrifield, who polarizes me quite a bit.

Statistics:

In his career, Merrifield averaged .286/.332/.426 with 71 home runs in 3,629 plate appearances. He also has a career K% of 15.7% with a BB% of 6.1%. His career wRC+ is 102, which is average. He has had an fWAR of 17 since debuting in 2016, including a 3.1 in 2021.

However, Merrifield’s offensive production fell off a cliff in 2022. He has just .217/.258/.308 with three homers and a wRC+ of just 60. His K% is down to 13.3% while running just 5.8% of the time.

He’s certainly not the 2018 version of himself, where he cut .304/.367/.438 and had 12 homers and a 119 wRC+. He also finished that season with a career-high 4.9 fWAR.

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Defensively, he plays everywhere, having spent time at first base, second base, third base and all outfield positions. However, he has only played a significant amount of time in his career in second, middle and right field.

His best position is second base, where he has a DRS of 18 and an OAA of 11 in 4771.2 innings played at that position. His second position is right field, where he has a -8 DRS and a 3 OAA in 1166 innings played.

While he’s not an upgrade over Espinal, especially given his rough 2022, I’d say Merrifield is certainly an upgrade from Cavan Biggio, meaning he could take the “super utility” role from Cavan.

Contact:

There are team-friendly contracts, and then there’s Whit Merrifield’s contract. This season, the 33-year-old earns $7,000,000. Next season he will earn a base salary of $2,750,000 with a $4,000,000 incentive if he spends less than 110 days with the IL.

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Merrifield also has a joint option for the 2024 season in which he would earn $18,000,000. His contract comes with a $500,000 buyout.

Although his stats weren’t up to par in 2022, it’s important to remember that he ended last season with a 3.1 fWAR, while in 2022 it was only around 50 games. Merrifield’s team-friendly contract is why teams would give up a pretty thick package.

Position requirement:

That begs the question, does Whit Merrifield fill a position need?

Honestly not really. With Espinal playing at the All-Star level, Merrifield only played in the outfield. As previously mentioned, his defense is sub-par in this position. He hasn’t really moved much on the field since 2018 either.

This fails to mention the hefty package I assume would take to pry Whit Merrifield away from the Royals. Even though he’s a great player with a team-friendly contract, I don’t really see the Jays needing him.

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The only player the Jays are interested in is Andrew Benintendi. I believe he could improve the outfield significantly without costing an arm and a leg to acquire at deadline date.

The royals suck but apart from Benintendi I don’t see them taking many steps towards this trade deadline.

Cincinnati Red

Washington Nationals

As always, follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. The next team in the series will be the Detroit Tigers as the Jays begin a series with them on Friday, June 10th.


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