The Kansas City Royals are a potentially emerging team in the American League Central. They are loaded with hitting prospects and are slowly but steadily putting together a terrific lineup.
The Tampa Bay Rays are loaded with quality arms, but have a wafer-thin lineup that might have prevented the perennially penny-pinching squad from making the postseason for the fourth time in five years.
These two teams should talk about making a swap. The Royals' best bet would be to offer up their slugging first baseman, Eric Hosmer, for some pitching relief.
Of course they could offer a player like Billy Butler or Jeff Francoeur to make room for Hosmer and Wil Myers. But whatever Francoeur can fetch in a trade would not be significant. Butler is a good All-Star option, but he will become expensive very soon.
Hosmer would bring the biggest return to Kansas City.
After a solid rookie campaign in 2011, his numbers came tumbling down this season. He hit for a lower average, his OPS dropped, his OPS+ crumbled, his homers and RBI dipped and his WAR dropped to a negative.
Selling him low might not seem smart. But he is still young. Any sales pitch could include the phrase "He'll only be 23 next year."
Another phrase is "He won't be a free-agent until 2018." The left-handed slugger could be pitched as the perfect low cost long-term answer to protect Evan Longoria for the next few years.
Would that be enough to pry Matt Moore or Alex Cobb away? Probably not. But would they listen for Jeremy Hellickson or Chris Archer or Jake McGee?
It would not hurt to ask. The Rays need under-control bats and they have pitching to spare, the total opposite of the Royals' situation.
Trading youth is risky.
Doing nothing might be riskier.
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