KANSAS CITY — Right-hander Homer Bailey was traded by the Royals to the A’s for Minor League infielder Kevin Merrell moments before Bailey was scheduled to pitch in Sunday’s game against the Tigers at Kauffman Stadium.
Here are five things you need to know about the deal.
- What the A’s are getting
A bargain. The Royals were paying Bailey the Major League minimum salary ($550,000) — the Dodgers are paying what’s left of his $23 million contract in 2019, and the A’s will only absorb about $250,000 of that MLB minimum, sources told MLB.com. And Bailey has been productive, going 7-6 with a 4.80 ERA in 18 starts. He’s been fabulous of late, going 3-0 in his last six starts with a 2.83 ERA.
2. What the Royals are getting
Merrell was a 2017 first-round Draft pick of the A’s (Competitive Balance Round, No. 33 overall) and he has played mostly shortstop. He will report to Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Merrell was ranked as Oakland’s No. 17 prospect by MLB Pipeline, which wrote of Merrell, “It could be that Merrell ends up fitting a super-utility role at the big league level, with his speed playing at a number of positions, though it’s too early to rule out an every day gig at second base.” One rival scout agreed, saying Merrell has the type of speed, athleticism and, perhaps, versatility to transition into a super-utility role.“A really good fit for the Royals,” he said.
Merrill is batting .246 with 13 doubles, four triples, two homers and 13 stolen bases in 82 games with the A’s Double-A affiliate, Midland (Texas), this season. Last year, he was a mid-season All-Star with Class A Advanced Stockton, batting .267 with 10 doubles, three triples and 38 runs scored in 62 games.
3. What the Royals like about Merrell
“We liked him a great deal out of the Draft two years ago,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “He’s our type of player, speed player. We liked his potential versatility out of the Draft. Oakland selected him relatively high, a Comp pick. We liked him a great deal and he fits our profiles.
“He doesn’t have to go on the 40-man roster for two more years. This is just his second full season, and our scouts and coaching staff liked him.”
4. How will the Royals replace Bailey in the rotation?
The 40-man options are somewhat limited. Right-handers Josh Staumont and Kyle Zimmer have been mostly serving as openers at Triple-A Omaha. Right-hander Heath Fillmyer, who started three games for the Royals earlier this season, is just coming off a shoulder injury. Left-hander Eric Skoglund, who has started 18 games for the Royals over the last two years, has struggled since coming back from an 80-game suspension, posting a 6.91 ERA in five starts at Omaha. Right-handers Scott Blewett and Arnaldo Hernandez both have ERAs over 7.00 at Omaha.
“We haven’t decided,” Moore said. “That’s something we are discussing now.”
5. What is the big picture?
This seems like a pretty good get for the Royals for Bailey, a guy they signed as a non-roster invite who honestly hasn’t been even a serviceable pitcher since 2014. “All of these deals are in context,” Moore said. “Homer Bailey did an outstanding job for us. He was going to be a free agent at the end of the year. You do your best to maximize opportunities for him, he can go and compete for a playoff spot with Oakland, and for us to bring back a player that gives us more depth in our system.”
And more deals are likely on the way for the rebuilding Royals. Billy Hamilton, Jake Diekman, Martin Maldonado, Wily Peralta and Lucas Duda all have expiring contracts.