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 continue our run with the National League West as I examine a possible trade involving the San Francisco Giants.
The Royals made a couple of big-time trades at the 2015 deadline that helped them net Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist and out of the five total players that were dealt, only Sean Manaea has had any type of prolonged success in the big leagues. If funny to go back and look at how much people thought the Royals were giving up for a player like Cueto and in reality, they gave up nothing. To acquire Zobrist, they got him for essentially a young Jason Vargas.
However, the proposition of having a Zobrist-like player on the Royals again is an interesting one, as it would give them a lot of flexibility in the infield and give them the ability to play the best lineup possible. But trying to find someone who can play every single infield position is extremely rare. They do exist if you look hard enough, though.
Trading with the Giants is something of a unique challenge because while they did put up the best record in all of baseball this year, it came completely out of left field with several players performing well over expectation. Was what we saw out of the Giants was real, or was it just a case of it all coming together at the right time? Personally, when the betting lines for win totals come out for next season and the Giants are listed as an 88.5-win team or above, I will strongly consider taking the under.
The trick with the Giants is to find the player that projects the best for years to come and one that can help the Royals add on to their already flexible team depth.
San Francisco Giants Receive: IF Wilmin Candelario
Kansas City Royals Receive: IF Wilmer Flores
Flores would be perfect for this roster, as he has played over 100 games at each infield position in his career and could slide into the designated hitter role if he was not needed in the infield. While Flores has never played in the outfield before, I’d reckon that he still possesses enough athleticism to be able to handle a few games in right field if given the opportunity.
The reason that I like this trade so much is the versatility it would give the Royals. As of right now, there are very few locked-in positional players in the lineup.
Going through the Royals' roster, you could make the argument that left field, center field and catcher are the only absolutely locked-in spots. Outside of those three positions, there are a ton of possible battles for playing time on the roster.
- 1B: Nick Pratto, Carlos Santana, Hunter Dozier
- 2B: Nicky Lopez, Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi
- SS: Nicky Lopez, Adalberto Mondesi, Bobby Witt Jr.
- 3B: Bobby Witt Jr., Adalberto Mondesi, Hunter Dozier
- RF: Kyle Isbel, Hunter Dozier, Adalberto Mondesi, Whit Merrifield
- DH: Hunter Dozier, Carlos Santana, Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi
This trade allows the Royals to add a bat to the lineup that can play all six of those positions, giving them more flexibility when it comes to selecting the lineup before the game and the ability to make in-game adjustments as needed. Flores, for his career, has been around a slightly above-average player who's never going to amaze anybody with eye-popping numbers but can be a cost-effective utility man for contending teams.
Last season for the Giants, he slashed .262/.335/.447 while hitting 18 home runs to go along with 53 RBIs, resulting in an OPS+ of 111. This type of season isn’t a fluke either, as Flores hasn’t posted a season with an OPS+ below 100 since 2015. Also, seeing as Oracle Park is one of the very few stadiums that might be more pitcher-friendly than Kauffman Stadium, it is reasonable to assume that Flores would be able to carry his offensive production over to Kansas City.
If the Giants are going to make a run at re-signing Kris Bryant, a player like Flores becomes excess goods. He will be in the last year of his deal in 2022, meaning that the Royals will be able to acquire him for a minor prospect.
Candelario showed a lot of promise early in his career, as he put up good numbers his first year in the minors. He offers the common athletic, slick-fielding middle infielder skill set that could also see him become a defensive asset around the field. The bat, though, has been a little inconsistent. His numbers saw a major regression this year in Single-A. Still, he’s only 20 years old and could be a tempting enough prospect for the Giants to depart with Flores for, even one year earlier than they would’ve planned on.
Candelario is an intriguing talent, one who could make an impact on both sides of the ball if he fulfills his potential. He's very rough around the edges, however, and he figures to be a slow mover. He's aggressive in all aspects of the game and cutting down on that will do him well. His best tool is his defense, but the swing gives hope that his power might eventually match it.
This is a low-risk trade for both sides because the Giants will have more than enough money available to them this offseason, while the Royals are allowing the Giants to gain a prospect in return whose future is currently blocked by bigger prospects. If the Giants want a more pro-ready prospect, Lucius Fox is always an option but the Royals shouldn’t be giving up any prospects within their top-30 for Flores.