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Could a Trade With the Reds Help the Royals Find a Solution in the Outfield?

The time has come for the Royals to deal a longtime prospect in order to obtain an immediate solution to a potential problem in the outfield.

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 Central as I examine a possible trade involving the Cincinnati Reds.

After two weeks, we’ve finally reached our first trade in the National League and will be starting with the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds finished third in the NL Wild Card race with an 83-79 record, seven games behind the Cardinals and 11 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cincinnati is seemingly led by a group of veterans that everyone either dismissed or forgot about and has rallied together to form a solid baseball team.

The likes of Tucker Barnhart, Nick Castellanos, Joey Votto, Wade Miley, and Sonny Gray all fit this description of players. There is always a need for some young blood and to the Reds' credit, they’ve managed to assemble a top 10 farm system. Their biggest task of this offseason will be to convince Castellanos to come back and to do that, they’ll have to show that they can get over the Cardinals. The biggest need will be their bullpen but if they can’t keep Castellanos on the team, they’ll be in search of a new power bat.

If there is one thing that is more appealing to a baseball team than anything else, it's power. With the Reds playing in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league, the long ball has become a big part of their offense. The Royals should view this trade similarly to the stock market: If you buy into a volatile stock for cheap, you need to sell it once it reaches its peak.

The Trade:

Cincinnati Reds Receive: OF Seuly Matias

Kansas City Royals Receive: OF Tyler Naquin

Matias might have the best raw power in all of minor league baseball, as he is currently knocking the cover off the ball in the Arizona Fall League.

Matias also possesses a throwing arm that many scouts consider good, or even better than his already well-known power.

Solid defender. Athletic. Will make routine play. Catches what he gets to. Ability to cover some ground. Moves well both ways. Doesn't always look smooth, but gets jobs done.

Long arm action with fairly good mechanics. Looks to throw, charges ball hard. Strong arm, carry through the bag. Usually on target. Can throw out runners. Easily playable in RF.

-prospectslive.com

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Now that we’ve gotten the good out of the way, let’s get to the bad. Matias was once viewed as a top 10 prospect for the Royals when the farm system was lingering around the bottom half of the league. Once a big influx of talent came in, he has completely vanished off the face of the Royals' top prospect charts, mostly due to his development never taking a big step forward as it took him five years to ascend past Single-A. In his minor league career, a 325-game sample size, Matias is posting a .217/.301/.461 line with 68 home runs, 199 RBIs and 485 strikeouts.

Is it possible that Matias takes a big step forward during the offseason and becomes a possible addition to the Royals' 40-man roster? Yes. Is it also possible that he continues to be the minor league version of Adam Dunn? Yes. So for a team that plays in a notoriously big ballpark, having a hit-or-miss slugging prospect doesn’t make the most sense.

However, the Royals may be able to flip Matias’s hot start in the Arizona Fall League to a team that could have more use for his certain set of skills. The Reds in a park with a home run park factor even higher than the mile-high Coors Field in Denver, which naturally generates bigger power numbers.

This, without a doubt, shows up in the team's home run numbers, as five players clocked in with over 20 home runs and three players mashed over 30 bombs on the year. Even a couple of bench and utility players racked up double-digit bombs. Matias playing 81-games a year at Great American Ball Park could have 30-plus home run potential — something that wouldn’t be guaranteed in Kansas City.

In return, the Royals could pick up a player that would help them complete possibly the best center field platoon in the major leagues.

Michael A. Taylor was re-signed to the Royals for $4.5M a year for two years and despite his prowess with the glove, his bat leaves a lot to desired. In 2021, he posted a .244 batting average with a .653 OPS. However, against lefties, his average jumped up to .295 and his OPS. improved to .769. The problem is that about 75% of the time, Taylor was going against right-handed pitching.

This is where Naquin steps in. Against right-handed pitching this season, he batted .283, got on base at a .339 clip, and slugged over .500. His numbers vs. lefties were abysmal, posting a .197 average to go along with an OPS. of .562 as his slugging percentage dipped down into the .200s.

While not close to the level of defender Taylor is, Naquin has shown to be more than capable of playing center field. He also has a decent amount of prior experience in Kauffman Stadium from when he was a part of the Cleveland Indians. Naquin has only one year left on his deal and with his career stats backing up what he did this year, he’s likely going to be a platoon player for the rest of his career. Naquin also has experience in the corner outfield spots, so he can rotate around as needed.

The value for the Royals in this trade lies in its versatility, as it allows them to maximize the amount of talent they have on the roster by putting players in the best possible position to succeed. For the fans who felt like the Royals shouldn’t have given up on Brett Phillips because of his “success” against righties, here’s what an actual platoon player looks like. It actually wouldn’t surprise me to see Tampa Bay deal Phillips and a bullpen arm to the Reds for Naquin because it fits their brand to a T.

The value for the Reds is the possibility of adding someone that could go from the minor league Dunn to the reincarnation of Dunn, who coincidentally played for the Reds from 2001-2008 while racking up 270 home runs in the process. The bulk of the Reds' real offensive difference-makers in the minors are in the infield, so the possibility of adding a prospect with Matias’s power potential in the outfield could be enough to persuade the Reds to depart with Naquin. If that's the case, the Royals should consider swooping in.

Read More: How Will Jorge Soler Be Remembered as a Royal?