“Reporter Jottings”: MAT and Mondesi Traded; What the Royals Got in Return; What’s Next From Picollo?

I wasn’t able to get in a post yesterday due to a crazy day at work, but it was probably for the best, as the Royals pulled off another trade yesterday, this time including talented, but oft-injured infielder Adalberto Mondesi.

Let’s not waste any time and get right into this edition of the “Jottings” as there is much to discuss when it comes to the Royals based on the past two days.


Taylor and Mondesi Finally Traded (And Who the Royals Got Back)

While the Mondesi trade to the Red Sox made a buzz, it shouldn’t be overlooked that Michael A. Taylor was also dealt away on Monday, only to the Minnesota Twins and for a couple of relief pitcher prospects:

In terms of the return, there is a lot to like here.

Sisk could be a candidate to make the MLB Opening Day roster, as he had a solid season in Double-A and Triple-A in the Twins organization in 2022. He has a very wonky delivery, which should at the very least make him an ideal LOOGY (left-handers-only guy) candidate at the MLB level.

As for Cruz, I wrote about this on Twitter, but he is a big dude, with a big fastball, and some big control issues. His profile mirrors Carlos Hernandez’s in my opinion, and should Hernandez not make progress in the Royals bullpen this year, it would not be surprising to see JJ Picollo DFA Hernandez and replace him with Cruz on the 40-man roster.

The arms the Royals got in return certainly are promising, though not sexy by any means. Ultimately, they probably are low-ceiling kind of arms (they won’t be anything beyond relievers and they aren’t necessarily “closer types” either).

However, the Taylor move is especially important as it creates an opening in centerfield for 2023 and beyond.

Already, it sounds like Picollo is talking about the defensive capability of Kyle Isbel, who seems like he will have the best shot to replace Taylor on Opening Day.

Picollo also mentioned Drew Waters as a candidate, which is not surprising considering the finish Waters had with the Royals after coming over from Atlanta. It will be exciting to see what new manager Matt Quatraro does this Spring, and what the competition will look like between Isbel, Waters, and maybe Nate Eaton when Cactus League play.

In the Royals deal on Tuesday, the Royals received Red Sox left-handed reliever Josh Taylor in exchange for Mondesi.

Taylor missed all of last year due to recovery from Tommy John, but he produced a 3.40 ERA and 1.0 fWAR in 2021 and a 3.04 ERA and 0.9 fWAR in 2019. Follow-up seasons after Tommy John can be tricky, but Taylor is at the very least a proven reliever who can give middle relief depth out of the pen, and he still has a few years of team control to boot.

As expected, many Royals fans have bemoaned Kansas City’s return for Mondesi (though some of those same fans were crying that they should’ve non-tendered him too back in November). After all, Mondesi was once the top prospect in the Royals system, and many were hoping that Mondesi could have a breakout season in 2023, and turn into Byron Buxton of the Twins, who also has dealt with frequent injuries throughout his career.

That being said, for those who think the Royals should have gotten more and didn’t need to add a Player to Be Named Later, Baseball Trade Values thinks right now that the trade is fair WITH the PTBNL added on.

In all honesty, trading Mondesi was probably the right call, even if it didn’t net the return many Royals fans may have expected (or wanted).

Already, Red Sox GM Chaim Bloom is cautious about Mondesi being ready for Opening Day, which is another sign that the Royals probably did the right thing by trading him away while he still had value.

While Mondesi certainly could have slotted in at the third base position to begin the year, and perhaps generated more trade value after a solid couple of months, that was guaranteed to happen by any means. Furthermore, the Royals are pretty flush with infielders on their 40-man roster, including Nicky Lopez (more on that in a second), Bobby Witt, Jr., Maikel Garcia, and Samad Taylor, who the Royals added to the 40-man roster this offseason, and provides an interesting toolset.

Furthermore, Mondesi was also in his last year of team control, and it was highly unlikely that the Royals would’ve inked him to a long-term extension next year. If they wanted to extend Mondesi, they would have done so already.

It’s been a tough road for Mondesi and the Royals, but it was time to move on and I think that’s a sentiment shared by both Picollo and Mondesi as well.


So What’s Next From Picollo and the Royals?

Picollo talked to the media yesterday and Jordan Foote of Inside the Royals did a good job recapping everything Picollo said in his Zoom press conference:

Furthermore, MLB.com Royals beat writer also mentioned a few things that Picollo brought up in the press conference that should be intriguing to Royals fans.

The “slow process” of the Chapman deal doesn’t surprise me. As much as the Carlos Correa situation has jaded us as baseball fans when it comes to signings, Chapman is only signing a one-year deal, not a 10-12-year one. Furthermore, I think the Royals are well aware of the publicity hit they are taking with signing Chapman, and they are going to try to do all they can to lessen the blow.

As for the Greinke rumors, it is very interesting, but I figured something would develop for Greinke soon. There are no other suitors that have been mentioned as possibilities for Greinke, so it could be that it was KC or retirement for the future Hall-of-Famer. The Royals have more financial flexibility to meet his “financial” wants now, as trading Mondesi and Taylor cleared guaranteed money off their books.

I’ll be curious though as to how Greinke’s return affects the rotation in 2023. Does Ryan Yarbrough move to a swingman role? Does Kris Bubic begin the year in Omaha? Will Jackson Kowar or Jon Heasley be thrown in a trade? The Royals seem to be coveting arms right now, so the last scenario seems unlikely, but you never know.

As for the last point, the Royals have a glaring hole at third base, and it could get even more glaring if fan favorite Nicky Lopez is traded to the White Sox, which has been rumored as a possibility over the past couple of days.

While Nicky shouldn’t be the everyday third baseman by any means, he could slot in there on an occasional basis and give the Royals some stability on the defensive end (which could help Witt out as well). But if he’s gone, then the Royals’ options could be new acquisition Johan Camargo (who has to earn a spot still on the 40-man roster), Samad Taylor, Eaton, and maybe Hunter Dozier, with the latter not being ideal, as I have discussed recently on this blog.

Also, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Royals perhaps swing a trade to acquire a third baseman.

While nothing has been connected just yet, a possible option for the Royals could be to trade for Toronto’s Cavan Biggio, whose path to playing time looks further blocked after the Blue Jays acquired Daulton Varsho, Kevin Kiermaier, and Brandon Belt this offseason.

The Blue Jays need relief help, especially of the left-handed variety. A trade involving Biggo and maybe Amir Garrett and/or Scott Barlow could be worthwhile (though the Royals should get some more prospects in return as well, in addition to Biggio, especially if the deal involves Barlow).

The Royals may have started the offseason slowly…

But safe to say, it’s been a much more “transactional” winter for the Royals lately overall, and it could get even more so in the coming days.

Photo Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

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