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 American League West as I examine a possible trade involving the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers will be picking third in the next MLB Draft, so it should come as no surprise that the options to choose from when it comes to trades are rather slim. There are some interesting pieces like Adolis Garcia, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Andy Ibanez that the Royals could shoot for, but I feel like the real difference-maker lies somewhere else.
While the Rangers have decreased the payroll in recent years, it should be mentioned that this is an organization that is not afraid to spend big to contend — Texas was in the top-10 in terms of payroll from 2014-2017. Depending on who you ask, the Rangers could have a top-10 farm system in baseball. They’re not going to be short on young players coming up to help.
Long story short, the Royals will have to offer the Rangers a player that can both accelerate their rebuild and offer them potential value somewhere else.
Texas Rangers Receive: SS Adalberto Mondesi, RHP Scott Blewett, RHP Ronald Bolanos
Kansas City Royals Receive: 1B Nate Lowe
In this trade, we see three familiar faces for the Royals that’ll help bring in some much-needed offensive stability. As we have gone over before, the Royals have an excess of middle infield talent to choose from, which is going to start forcing them to move some of those players to the outfield. One of whom, according to some, could be Mondesi.
That being said, Mondesi has never played an inning of baseball in the outfield and is stuck in roster flux. However, the Rangers might have a use for him over at third base as Brock Holt was a dud in Texas this year and the Rangers' No. 2 overall prospect in Josh Jung defensively profiles better as an athletic first baseman than as an average third baseman. Also, the Rangers seem to value speed as they ranked inside the top five this season when it came to stolen bases per game, which makes Mondesi even more appealing.
Plus, if the Rangers really wanted to try and make one of their infielders into an outfielder, they would now have two candidates who are athletic enough to make that transition in both Kiner-Falefa and Mondesi.
Throw in the double complement of Blewett and Bolanos to give aid to a Rangers pitching staff that desperately needs help, and you have a trade package that could net the Royals of the more underappreciated players in baseball.
Lowe was acquired by the Rangers in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for three minor league prospects that have yet to break into the majors. Lowe, in the meantime, put together a very respectable season in Arlington, slashing .264/.357/.413 to go along with 18 home runs and 72 RBIs. This netted him an OPS+ of 113. While those numbers are modest compared to what an elite first baseman like Freddie Freeman puts up, they're far more desirable than those of current Royals like Carlos Santana, Hunter Dozier and Ryan O'Hearn.
Lowe is not a player that is going to win any Silver Slugger or Gold Glove awards, nor be a perennial All-Star, but what he does offer is offensive competence — which the Royals desperately need. It also doesn’t hurt that he’ll be under team control until 2027, giving the Royals more value in the long run than they would have with Mondesi.
An issue of concern is Lowe's ability to stick at first base, as he did commit 11 errors at first base this season. Athletically, I question his ability to be able to transition to a corner outfield spot, meaning that he'll need to shift to a designated hitter role once prospect Nick Pratto is promoted. This then brings up the issue of blocking Salvador Perez from moving into that DH role when M.J. Melendez comes up. However, if the Royals think Perez can make it through the rest of his contract behind the plate, they could move Melendez to third base and rotate Nicky Lopez back to second base while Bobby Witt Jr. goes to shortstop. Melendez could also perhaps play in the corner outfield.
If Lowe produces, the Royals will find a way to get his bat in the lineup — even if it does require a bit of finagling with defensive positions. Also, considering that Lowe’s 11 errors over at first were only one more than Carlos Santana, Ryan O’Hearn and Hunter Dozier had over at first base combined, the defensive downgrade might not be that noticeable.
For the Royals, this is a move that will help them move on from the mistakes of their past and help shape them into a future contender with a long-term bat that should remain reliable and consistent. In return for Lowe, the Rangers get some much-needed depth as they sit back and wait for their talented prospect core to emerge out of the minor leagues.