Editor’s Note: After this story was first published it was announced that the Royals are paying Wood’s salary for this year and next as part of the trade. The story has been updated.
They're keeping the gang together.
In the midst of a five-game winning streak that has moved them into the second wild-card spot, the Royals made a move to try to solidify their playoff chances, acquiring three pitchers who should bulk up the rotation and bullpen.
The move reinforces the Royals’ playoff run before Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas and Jason Vargas hit free agency at the end of the season. It also further depletes a thin farm system, but Kansas City knew 2018 was going to be a rebuilding year even before this trade was made.
Esteury Ruiz, 2b
The Royals spent big in the 2015 international signing period, but Ruiz was one of the bargains they found that year. Signed for $100,000, Ruiz immediately impressed with his ability to make consistent solid contact. Although he has a wiry build, he has the bat speed and strong wrists to generate excellent exit velocities. He projects as an offensive second baseman. He's a long way away, but his performance this year in the Arizona League has done nothing to cool expectations as he's second in the AZL with a .419 batting average and leads the league in total bases (67) and triples (6).
|Travis Wood, lhp
Wood, an athletic lefty, was a valuable swingman for the Cubs for years. But after signing with the Royals as a free agent, he's failed to be effective either as a reliever or a spot starter. He's posted an 8.31 ERA in starts and a 6.28 ERA in relief roles. Wood signed a two-year contract, so he's also under contract for 2018.
|Matt Strahm, lhp
Strahm ranked as the Royals’ No. 2 prospect coming into the season. He's since graduated from prospect status with an uneven rookie year in the Royals' bullpen. Strahm was awful in the first week of the season for Kansas City, allowing seven runs in three very brief outings. But after a demotion to Triple-A, he returned to form in a return to Kansas City. He was effective as a reliever, but less effective in three spot starts. He was sidelined in early July with a torn patella tendon and is currently on the disabled list. If he can recover from his knee injury, Strahm is a viable option for the Padres' bullpen or rotation in 2018 as he has a 92-95 mph fastball and solid slider and changeup.
Ryan Buchter, lhp
Buchter has been well-traveled as a power lefty reliever. The Royals will be his seventh different organization as he has been traded three times. He's especially effective against lefthanders (.175/.277/.386 this year, .158/.258/.311 for his career). Mike Minor and Scott Alexander have been effective as lefty relievers for the Royals already, but Buchter gives the team three lefties it can deploy throughout the middle and later innings. Buchter will not be arbitration eligible until 2019, so he's also a low-cost member of the bullpen for next year as well.
|Trevor Cahill, rhp
Cahill has been the most reliable starter for the Padres although he has just recently returned after missing nearly two months with a sore shoulder. He's made four starts since returning from the disabled list. He fits best at the back of a rotation, but his ability to mix four pitches makes him a reasonably reliable option as a starter. Cahill is signed to a one-year deal and will be a free agent at the end of the season.
|Brandon Maurer, rhp
A setup man with the Padres, Maurer brings to the Royals a mid-90s fastball and a biting slider. His performance has rarely fully lived up to his stuff but his 5.72 ERA this year is a little misleading. His xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is 3.63 and he's striking out as many batters and walking fewer batters. Maurer is arbitration eligible and will reach free agency in 2020.