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 East as I examine a possible trade involving the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies are living proof that money can’t buy you a World Series ring, as they have spent big over the past few years with the acquisitions of Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen and other big-name pickups. However, despite being in the top-10 in payroll these past three years, they have not come close to making the playoffs and are currently in limbo with the Braves having the clear advantage in the NL East.
With a roster full of high-price and low-result talent, and a farm system depleted of any game-changing prospects, the Phillies will need to make a big move in the offseason to try and contend with the Atlanta Braves. The biggest weakness of the Phillies on offense is the left side of the infield, as both Didi Gregorius and Alec Bohm had lackluster seasons and held back what was otherwise a rather potent Phillies lineup. Pitching-wise, the Phillies need an actual ace to hold down the rotation and a lockdown closer to help seal games late.
If the Phillies were to go out and sign the likes of Marcus Semien, Kris Bryant and Max Scherzer, they might need a little help to do so. In terms of clearing up roster space and clearing up some salary stress, the Royals could be in line to help. In return for doing the Phillies a bit of service, the Royals bolster their depth and add a prospect to their farm system.
Philadelphia Phillies Receive: SP Mike Minor
Kansas City Royals Receive: SP Kyle Gibson, 2B/SS Jean Segura, LHP Ethan Lindow
With this move, the Phillies would clear up just shy of $12.5 million in salary to use in free agency while getting rid of two contracts they likely don’t want anymore. For the Royals, the good news about both of these contracts is that they’ll only be on the books for one year — Segura has a $1M buyout clause and Gibson hits free agency in 2023.
The logic behind this trade for the Royals is essentially swapping veteran pitchers for a bat and a prospect. We’ll start by analyzing the bat in Segura, which has been one of the more underappreciated ones in baseball.
Looking back at Segura’s last five seasons, he put up a slash line of .291/.340/.424 with an OPS+ of 106, averaging 11 home runs and 50 RBIs over a 162-game season. It should also be noted that he struck out fewer than 100 times in each of those seasons as well. If the Royals were looking for a Ben Zobrist clone they could stick into the lineup to add depth and versatility, this would be the player to do so. While the contract is a bit bloated at over $14M this upcoming season before rising to $17M in 2023, there is that aforementioned buyout clause that is ironically the same amount as Minor's buyout.
Gibson would be the veteran pitcher coming back in this deal, and the real question is which version of him the Royals would be getting: the one who was an All-Star in Texas at the beginning of the season, or the struggling pitcher with an ERA over five after he got traded to Philadelphia? One of the big issues for Gibson in Philadelphia was his tendency to serve up the long ball, as he allowed almost as many home runs in Philly (8) as he did in Texas (9) in seven fewer starts. Philadelphia was one of the more hitter-friendly parks in the league for power bats and Texas was one of the stingiest, so that might help explain the spike.
Lindow is the prospect that would be coming back in this deal, currently sitting as the No. 26 prospect in the Phillies' farm system. He's not a big strikeout guy, but he's capable of pounding the zone and rarely giving up walks. Although his fastball only touches 92 MPH, when it comes out of a 6'3" frame, it can appear to come in a bit faster with that natural deception. His stats in Single-A were impressive, but he did get knocked around a little bit in his handful of starts in Double-A. This would be the long-term acquisition in this trade that might bloom into a backend rotation starter or a reliever with the ability to go multiple innings against lefty-heavy lineups.
For the Phillies, they know what they're getting in Minor. They wouldn’t have to commit to him for the long run, as he has the buyout option in 2023. If Philadelphia would like the Royals to eat some of Minor’s contract to acquire a better prospect, that’s something the Royals should be more than happy to do. But as it stands right now, $12.5M worth of relief should be enough to help make an aggressive push in free agency.
This boils down to the Royals adding a bat and a prospect while the Phillies get payroll relief. It’s a win-win for both sides with very little risk for either club, as both of them can get away from these players after one year.