As the month of November continues, the MLB offseason and "hot stove" part of the year is only going to garner more and more buzz. With that comes plenty of speculation about free agent signings, coaching hires and possible trades. The Kansas City Royals are coming off a disappointing 97-loss 2022 campaign, but that doesn't mean they don't have any intriguing talent on their roster for other teams to potentially inquire about.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com published an article on Thursday listing the best trade chip for all 30 big-league clubs. Center fielder Michael A. Taylor was the pick for Kansas City, as Feinsand cited a combination of previous trade interest during the summer, Taylor's 2023 salary and other players being ready to get more reps as his justification. Here's the full excerpt:
Taylor’s name was floated around quite a bit prior to last summer’s Trade Deadline, but the center fielder could find himself on the move this offseason with Kyle Isbel and Drew Waters ready to handle everyday roles. Taylor has one year and $4.5 million left on his contract, the type of contract any contender seeking outfield help can handle.
Taylor, who will turn 32 in late March, is coming off his best offensive performance in half a decade. In 124 games this year, he slashed .254/.313/.357 with a career-high 7.7% walk rate and a 90 wRC+ in 456 plate appearances. While the 2021 Gold Glove winner did take a step back as a defender, he still remained one of the better defensive outfielders in the game of baseball. For his efforts, Taylor was worth 3.2 bWAR and 1.5 fWAR on the year.
On the flip side, Taylor's numbers before the All-Star break versus after the break were very telling of how much of a "tale of two seasons" his 2022 was. In 60 games, post-ASB, Taylor slashed just .243/.283/.330 (.613 OPS, 71 wRC+) while also seeing his already limited power production decline (.120 ISO before the break to .087 thereafter). Additionally, he walked just 5% of the time over the course of those games and began struggling more as a result. With years of data suggesting that Taylor's second act in 2022 is more indicative of who he is than the first act, it remains to be seen what other teams think about him at this juncture.
Still, even with his limitations and inconsistencies, Taylor can bring value to a contending team. Not only is he still a clear plus on defense, but the aforementioned $4.5 million salary in 2023 makes him an affordable addition for just about any club out there as either a starter or quality depth. FanGraphs' value estimation puts him at being worth $12.4M this past year and although that number wouldn't be reflected on the open market, it represents what Taylor can bring to the table. With the likes of Waters and others waiting in the ranks, the veteran Taylor indeed may be Kansas City's best trade piece this offseason.