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 kick off our run with the American League Central as I examine a possible trade involving the Chicago White Sox.
Putting together trades for the AL Central teams is going to be a bit trickier than the rest because teams within the division are less likely to trade difference-making players unless they get something worthwhile in return. In the spirit of that, brace yourselves for some trades that don’t possess quite the amount of chaos as others.
For the first stop, we’ll be visiting the division-winning White Sox to try and pluck someone off their roster. Chicago ran away with the division last year and is going to be the favorite going into next season unless something drastic happens. The Southsiders are not going to be dealing away any piece from their core, so players like Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito, Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez are all off the table.
The only thing you're likely to get from the White Sox would be a bullpen arm or a backup. Because none of their good bullpen arms are available, that leaves us to dig through reserves. The most likely trade, in my opinion, is one that features two players that both organizations have zero use for — and I feel like we might’ve found our swap.
Chicago White Sox Receive: OF Edward Olivares
Kansas City Royals Receive: C/DH Yermin Mercedes
To be quite honest, both Mercedes and Olivares have been disrespected by these two franchises and it’s probably best if both leave their current organizations to try and find a future somewhere else.
Olivares, at times, showed some potential in his brief stints with the MLB club before being shipped back to Triple-A Omaha many times throughout 2021. When he was in Omaha, he was one of the Storm Chasers' best players with an OPS of .956, 15 home runs and 36 RBIs in only 66 games. The Royals, however, didn’t seem to notice as they consistently picked Ryan O’Hearn, Hunter Dozier, Whit Merrifield and Jorge Soler for games instead of Olivares. With current No. 5 prospect Kyle Isbel getting set for his first real look as an everyday player (or close to it), that makes it very unlikely for Olivares to ever move past being the fifth-choice outfielder on the depth chart.
I will say that while minor league stats are nice to look at, they aren't always indicative of how a player is going to perform once they hit the big stage. O'Hearn is a great example, as he put up an OPS of 1.382 and mashed 12 bombs in only 19 games with Omaha this season. In the majors, he’s nothing more than a utility player who can only claim utility status because he can waddle around right field in a pinch.
The same type of argument can be made about Mercedes, who started the season absolutely on fire with the White Sox as he filled in for the injured Eloy Jimenez at designated hitter. He became the first player since at least 1900 to begin a season with eight straight hits. He was named the AL Rookie of the Month in April and looked to be on a path towards a breakout season. Unfortunately for him, he made the mistake of hitting a home run on a 3-0 count in a blowout game got ripped by his manager in front of the media, lost all of his confidence and got sent down to Triple-A. It got so bad that he even posted a retirement message on his Instagram before taking it down and showing up to Triple-A Charlotte the next day.
Mercedes was never in the plans for the White Sox, which is why when everybody got healthy and Mercedes inevitably went into a slump, they cut bait and ran away. Gavin Sheets is probably the new full-time DH for Chicago and Yasmani Grandal and Zach Collins are pretty well entrenched behind the plate. Nobody is moving Jose Abreu off of first base, so Mercedes' future options for the White Sox are pretty limited.
Sometimes promising players just aren’t a great fit for certain teams and holding on to them is only going to stunt their development, create hard feelings and waste money by paying someone who doesn’t want to be there. This trade allows both of these teams to fill needs by engaging in a swap of unwanted players. For the Royals, they get an offensive upgrade at backup catcher and a player who also might be able to challenge the likes of Dozier and Carlos Santana for DH at-bats. The White Sox get a fourth outfielder to replace the departing Billy Hamilton and Brian Goodwin.
Both teams have players that, at times, showed a lot of promise last season. Unfortunately, neither squad has the roster space nor the belief in these two to give them a proper shot at sticking full-time on a major league roster. Perhaps this trade can serve as a fresh start for two talented pros.