The non-waiver trade deadline came and went and the Kansas City Royals still have everyone on their Major League roster. Ervin Santana is still in the starting rotation and make funny Twitter videos. Luke Hochevar is still in the bullpen and not with Boston. Chris Getz is still at second base, to the dismay of Royals fans.
Despite an eight-game winning streak and being two games above .500, General Manager Dayton Moore didn’t make any bold moves to buy or sell. But he did make a trade: Reserve outfielder Justin Maxwell from the Houston Astros for minor-league pitcher Kyle Smith.
So the Royals “big” move was to trade off a High A starting pitcher who was the 12th ranked Royals prospect by Baseball America for a 29-year old right-handed career .222 outfielder. This year, Maxwell suffered a broken hand and concussion (he did recover by the All-Star break) and so far has played 40 games. His role seems to be a platoon outfielder against left-handed pitching.
Maxwell does pretty well against left-handed pitching with a .253/.370/.455 average, while the Royals as a team are .233/.283/.328 against left-handed starters.
The best case for Maxwell is to platoon him with David Lough, but if you look at Lough’s splits, he’s hitting .278/.302/.401 against righties and .283/.316/.415 against lefties, which is pretty even. It’s not like Lough struggles against left-handed pitching.
Some argue Lough might not have the endurance to go a full season, but he’s 27 years old and played the last four seasons in AAA Omaha, playing over 100 games in three of those four seasons. And Maxwell’s high game mark in the Majors was 124 games in 2012. In other seasons, he played 15, 40, 67 and 40 games. Perhaps a platoon situation would rest both players and help them improve, but that’s not a sure thing.
And there’s the roster spot the Royals need to clear before they put Maxwell on the roster. The team plans to add Maxwell by Thursday’s game against the Twins, but they haven’t made a decision who will be sent down. Lorenzo Cain and Chris Getz are nursing injuries, but they’re not going on the DL. And the Royals aren’t planning to send a bullpen arm down either.
So who will it be? Knowing the Royals, it will be David Lough. Never mind he’s hitting .291/.308/.432 and is a defensive asset in right field. And never mind the Royals drafted him in 2007 and he’s been with the Royals organization his whole career. The Royals didn’t make this trade to send Maxwell to Omaha, so they will put him on the Major League roster. When the Royals got Elliot Johnson, they sent longtime farmhand Irving Falu to Omaha and it wouldn’t surprise me if they do the same thing with Lough.
I’m not saying Lough is the caliber of Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer or Salvador Perez. But Lough is a good role player who’s making a positive contribution to the team. And if Lough was right-handed, the Royals wouldn’t make this trade.
Maybe the Royals will prove me wrong and send someone else down besides Lough and this article will be moot. I hope they do, but I’ve hoped for a long time when it comes to the Royals.