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Can a Trade With the World Series Champions Help the Royals?

The Braves have a lot of players that the Royals would love to have on their roster, but very few of them are available. There is, however, a straggler or two that KC could look to pick off.

Welcome back to the 29 trades in 29 days series. Every day, I will be taking a look at a new MLB team in an effort to find a trade package that makes sense for the Kansas City Royals to hypothetically pursue. For some ground rules and an example, check out the first installment of the series. Today, let's begin our run with the National League East as I examine a possible trade involving the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves constructed a World Series champion thanks in large part to a stellar trade deadline, acquiring Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall and World Series MVP Jorge Soler all to overall haul an outfield that was bombed out and depleted. However, something strange happens when you win a championship — I call it run-it-back-itis. This is where teams ignore upgrading the team they have so they can bring the gang all back for another run at the title.

So, to get someone off the Braves, the Royals would have to try and find someone that has been forgotten about. At the beginning of this series, I said that some trades would be more spectacular than others. This might be one of the less spectacular trades in terms of name value, however, this is still a trade that would improve the Royals by trading away a player from an area of strength.

The Trade:

Atlanta Braves Receive: C Luca Tresh

Kansas City Royals Receive: RP Richard Rodriguez and UTIL Travis Demeritte

The Braves, as of right now, have a lackluster farm system that currently sits right around the mid-20s. The Royals are generally considered to have one of the better farm systems in the league, meaning that their prospects may be held in higher regard. This is the one angle the Royals can come from to try and make a trade with the Braves.

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Rodriguez was acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates for a prospect and pitcher Bryse Wilson to help enhance the Braves' already formidable bullpen. However, seeing as the Royals should know all about constructing a great pen, there is always a forgotten man. That man for the Royals was Jason Frasor who, despite having an ERA of 1.54 in 2015 and an ERA of 1.53 in 2014, was cut by the Royals halfway through the club's championship season. Coincidentally, Frasor then signed with the Braves, pitched six scoreless outings and never played again.

Rodriguez is Atlanta’s Jason Frasor: He was left out of every single playoff series roster for the Braves despite posting a very respectable 3.12 ERA in 27 games in the regular season. There is some long-term value with Rodriguez as well, as he isn’t set to become a free agent until 2024. This exemption from the playoffs, I think, speaks more to the strength of the Braves bullpen rather than anything Rodriguez did wrong. But when push comes to shove, the Royals were willing to let a dominant bullpen arm go to clear roster space. The Braves might be willing to do the same by trading an excess reliever for a prospect.

Demeritte would be a bit of an under-the-radar prospect acquisition for the Royals, as he was traded by the Braves to the Detroit Tigers in 2019 before being claimed off waivers by Atlanta this season. In back-to-back seasons in Triple-A, Demeritte has put up an OPS. above .900 and hit 20-plus home runs. There is certainly potential there, even if he didn’t do much in his brief stint with the Tigers.

In exchange for the two, the Braves would be getting the Royals' 24th ranked prospect in Luca Tresh. But given that catcher is such a unique position the value is a little bit higher than the rankings. Outside of Shea Langeliers, the Braves have no quality catching prospects in the pipeline so Tresh offers some unique value as a catcher with power potential. With M.J. Melendez and Carter Jensen both ahead of Tresh in the prospect rankings it’s unlikely that Tresh’s long-term future lies in Kansas City.

Tresh's bat speed and massive strength translate into obvious raw power and consistently high exit velocities from the right side of the plate. To get the most out of his pop, he'll need to do a better job of making consistent contact. He does show the patience to draw walks if teams try to pitch around him.

This would be an under-the-radar trade for both teams, as the Royals would acquire a reliever the Braves didn’t need in order to win a World Series and a prospect that has been passed over and traded multiple times before but still has potential. The Braves receive a bolster to their farm system with a catcher whose power potential could see him develop into a corner infield/outfield utility player. It’s hard to trade with a team that has just won a championship, as most of the time they operate with an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” attitude. With that said, I’m not sure how much they’d miss a player that they never used in the postseason. 

Editor's Note: The original Royals prospect included in this trade was Jeison Guzman, but he elected free agency  shortly after the article was published.

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