Why it might be time to swap MJ Melendez

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The notion is difficult, if not impossible, to grasp. Most KC Royals fans might even consider him crazy.

But the negotiating concept of MJ Melendez, the organization’s fourth best prospect by MLB pipeline, makes some sense and is not as defiant of logic as it might sound.

Melendez is, of course, the current heir to Kansas City wide receiver Salvador Perez. He’s dominated minor league shots this season, first at Double-A Northwest Arkansas where he hit .285 with 28 homers, then at Triple-A Omaha where he added 13 homers and hit .293.

Also impressive, especially for a powerful young hitter with 41 home runs leading the minors, was his seasonal OBP of .386. Melendez is also an excellent defensive receiver with a superb arm.

With references like this, why think of trade when it comes to Melendez?

It’s simple. He and the Royals both have issues. Treating it could solve both.

Melendez’s problem is not his fault. It is, in short, Perez himself who creates the difficulty. Perez’s new contract, which takes effect in 2022 and is the largest in franchise history, ties him to the Royals for at least four more years. Assuming there isn’t a rapid decrease in his formidable skills, Perez’s continued presence behind the plate for such a long time effectively hampers Melendez’s advancement.

Melendez is too talented to spend much time on the bench as Perez’s replacement; he needs to play regularly, not once or twice a week when Perez is resting or taking a DH ride, and because he won’t (and certainly shouldn’t) move Perez, his alternatives are few – he touched third base late this season and is athletic enough for first base or right field to come into play. Serve as designated hitter isn’t out of the question, but it wouldn’t be ideal.

But the Royals will likely have Bobby Witt Jr. in third place, already have Carlos Santana at the start, and Nick Pratto looks set to take over if Santana fails or the Royals try to move him by the 2022 trade deadline. they almost certainly will. . Right fielder is probably better for Melendez, unless the Royals are convinced Kyle Isbel is the answer or decide it’s a good place for Hunter Dozier and his oversized $ 25 million contract.

So, unless Perez suffers a long-term injury or moves to DH much sooner than expected, Melendez might not fit easily into Kansas City’s daily lineup.

He is very valuable to Kansas City in another way, however.

Trading MJ Melendez could reap immediate big league profits for the KC Royals.

Treating MJ Melendez before he plays even a single game for Kansas City is probably not an option the Royals prefer. He’s become a dangerous hitter in the minor leagues, and there’s no indication his bat won’t play well in the majors.

But trading Melendez could pay dividends quickly – it wouldn’t move an established star for prospects, it would trade a top prospect for immediate Big League help.

Think about the starting pitch, something these Royals could use given the lack of success of their problematic current rotation. Who, however, could Kansas City team up with in a deal with Melendez?

Tampa Bay, where Mike Zunino currently catches, is a possibility. Zunino was one of three contenders for the 2021 Silver Slugger that Perez recently won, but his bat still leaves a lot to be desired – he’s pummeled 33 home runs this season, but only touched 0.216 and hadn’t passed Mendoza. since barely having passed it at. 201 in 2018. He’s a .202 career hitter with a .274 OBP. And at 30 (March 31), he’s almost eight full years older than Melendez, who turns 23 on Monday.

Melendez would cost the Rays. KC could demand starter Shane McClanahan in return. Like KC’s Brady Singer, Kris Bubic, Daniel Lynch and Jon Heasley, McClanahan is a 2018 draft pick who reached the majors without stopping at Triple-A; Singer and Bubic did it in 2020, Lynch, Heasley and McClanahan in 2021. While Singer and Bubic weren’t spectacular in their rookie season, Lynch had some pretty rough times and Heasley only pitched three times. , McClanahan was 10-6 and won more games. than any other regular Tampa starter.

McClanahan’s control was excellent (2.70BB / 9) and he struck out over 10 batters per nine innings. It relies primarily on a four-stitch mid-90s mid-90s; also in its arsenal are a curve, a slider and a shift.

A Melendez-for-McClanahan deal would likely require more than one or both sides, but they would be the main attractions.

The potentially backstoped Cubs could use a catcher as well, but their parallel need for starters means they won’t be ideal for Kansas City to negotiate with. The Yankees could be looking to replace Gary Sanchez, who likes Zunino’s shots for power and not much else, but won’t let Gerrit Cole, their most attractive starter, go for Melendez, and the KC Royals don’t. will not shoulder the balance of Cole’s $ 324 million contract which is not completed until the end of the 2028 season.

There are other sources to start launching, of course. And the Royals could also be looking for a right fielder in exchange for Melendez, but why do that if he’s probably able to play there anyway?

Should the KC Royals even consider trading MJ Melendez at this point in his career?

This is the central question. Kansas City will receive top talent for Melendez, but he’s that type of talent too and shouldn’t be bought unless the club feels they don’t have a viable alternative. and the potential comeback is sure to make a quick and high impact at the major league level.

This is why Melendez’s immediate future is something the Royals need to think deeply and carefully about.

A trade involving MJ Melendez could be important for the KC Royals. It is also something that they should not do in a hurry.

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