The 2022 MLB trade deadline is merely a few days away, and the Kansas City Royals have begun to make moves that will shake up both the present and future outlooks of the franchise.
On Wednesday night, Kansas City kicked off festivities by trading left fielder Andrew Benintendi to the New York Yankees in exchange for a trio of pitching prospects: T.J. Sikkema, Beck Way and Chandler Champlain. The move was the third major trade of this summer for the Royals, coming roughly a month after Carlos Santana was shipped to Seattle and a few weeks after the 35th pick in this year's MLB Draft was sent to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for a trio of prospects.
It's no secret that the Royals were expected to be busy at the deadline this year, but there are still several players remaining who could be moved in the near future. Relievers Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont and utility man Whit Merrifield — most notably — headline that group of potential assets. With that in mind, how does the Benintendi trade alter the club's plans heading into next Tuesday? Anne Rogers of MLB.com asked general manager J.J. Picollo, and he answered:
We've been pretty open with clubs. Really, right now, I think we're in a position where we don't have to be the aggressor. The players we have remaining have years on their contract, so we don't have to be the aggressor. Over the next 24 to 48 hours, I think we'll have definitely a more clear picture of who seriously wants to acquire some of the players that we have remaining on this team. And I think it'll get interesting.
I don't know where it'll go. But again, if the players that are on this team are with us next year, it's not abad thing. It's really a matter of whether or not we can improve our team or the organization moving forward by using these players. And that'll be dictated by the level of interest and competition that mayexist to acquire any one player. That's why we were able to move Andrew as quickly as we did prior to the deadline, because there was healthy competition.
Decoding Picollo's answer is difficult, as merely speculating is difficult at this juncture and he could simply be posturing due to the nature of how trade markets and negotiations develop. On the other hand, the fact that the Benintendi situation did contain "healthy competition" could have a ripple effect on any other moves being made. This year's reliever market has been described in a negative light by many, so the demand for someone like Barlow may be even greater. Merrifield's bat and versatility can help any playoff contender, which could ultimately lead to multiple teams expressing interest.
There's a world in which the Royals continue to be active and end up moving multiple players. There's also a world in which they don't and instead, they choose to stand pat with what they currently have. Picollo appears to be preparing for either outcome, and he isn't dead-set on unloading players simply for the sake of doing it. He and the rest of Kansas City's front office will keep monitoring interest and if things heat up, that's good news for everyone involved. If that's the Royals' definition of interesting, then the next several days will be worth keeping an eye on from the outside.