3 Texas Rangers trades with the Kansas City Royals
As the Merrifield trade one probably stung a bit for Royals fans, this one will sting a bit for Texas Rangers fans. Whit Merrifield is the Royals’ most tradable, yet untradeable player.
For the Texas Rangers, that distinction goes to Isiah Kiner-Falefa. He has been a dynamic tool, used successfully all over the playing field. His bat may not be exciting, but it is trustworthy. He has been the Texas Rangers’ most consistent hitter for the past 2 years now. All that has changed though as Seager/Semien have been tabbed to take over the middle infield.
IKF could see time at 3B if Jung isn’t your opening day starter, or he could be a useful bench/role player. Given injuries could happen at any time it could be useful to hold onto the Swiss Army Knife player, or it could be best to flip him for more prospects while his value is at (two years of control).
Jonathan Bowlan normally wouldn’t be available in a deal for IKF but he ended up having Tommy John surgery ending his ’21 season and probably won’t pitch again till ’23. The Royals’ loss is the Rangers’ gain. Texas has a deep enough farm system to where they wouldn’t need him to develop quickly and could allow for this. Plus, the Rangers should have TJ rehab down pat at this point. In 2019, Bowlan posted a 3.36 ERA in Low A before being promoted to High A where he got even better. In 76.1 innings he put up a 2.95 ERA. With no 2020 season, he jumped into ’21 demonstrating the same level of play with a 1.59 ERA in 17 innings before the injury.
Benintendi is a bit of a throw-in at this point, with an estimated arbitration salary of $9.6 million, the former first-rounder is in his last year of team control. He had a nice bounce-back season in 2021 where he hit .276 with 17 home runs, and it would be a good trial run to see how he fit with the team. He would really be a backup plan if the Rangers whiff on Suzuki.
Hernandez wraps up the return. He is the second pitching steal, having been the Royals 2nd rounder in 2020. The 20-year-old features a nasty changeup and curveball that is accompanied by a 90-95mph fastball. He was eased back into things after not playing in 2020. This led to a misleading 4.33 ERA in just over 35 innings on the year. With more time in organized ball, he could move quickly.
As for what the Royals are getting, IKF would fix their third base problems, or their possible second base problems. With two years of cheap control left, IKF is one of the best values in the league. He won’t wow you with power but he gets the barrel to the ball and gets on base. His real attribute though is his undeniable glove work.
Winning a Gold Glove at the hot corner already, he could step in over Hunter Dozier and be an immediate defensive upgrade (arguably offensively too). He would be a veteran voice in the locker room with Carlos Santana and be a stable fixture for an unstable team.
There is risk and reward for the Rangers on this deal. If either Bowlan or Hernandez develops into the pitcher of promise, they could have a strong young pitching core. Kansas meanwhile. gets out of an almost $10 million salary and receives a reliable veteran at a position(s) of need.