With less than 36 hours left in the trade deadline, the Chicago White Sox were able to finally move the biggest name left on the trade block. As of 12:05 pm, the White Sox have acquired two pitchers from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for outfielder Melky Cabrera. The two pitchers are the 22-year-old right-handed A.J. Puckett and 23-year-old left-handed Andre Davis. Neither of these pitchers have reached the Double-A level in their professional career just yet, but pitcher tend to take longer to move through the minor leagues.
The White Sox had to be glad to finally move Melky after a lot of speculation over the past few weeks. Melky Cabrera was going to hit free agency at the end of this season and Rick Hahn wanted to get something for the left fielder, especially with his .337/.370/.514 slash line since June 10th. In that same exact span, Alex Gordon produced a .239/.303/.396 slash line while hitting just above the Mendoza line, which is a .200 or worse average, at .201 in 92 games this year. Melky Cabrera will more than likely slide into the every day left field role while forcing Alex Gordon to the bench or be a part of a platoon in right field with Jorge Bonifacio. Most Royals fans might hate to see their long time left fielder sit on the bench and let Brandon Moss ride the bench, but Moss has been pretty hot with an OPS just over .850 since the All Star Break. Melky Cabrera brings a boost to that Kansas City lineup with the way he is hitting, but will be clutch to have down the home stretch of the season against Cleveland as he owns a .472 average against the Indians’ ace, Corey Kluber over 36 at bats.
The White Sox were able to add two more arms to their farm system thanks to this deal, even if they don’t seem like very high potential pieces. Arms are always important because no one enters a career as a pitcher hoping to only work out of the bullpen, but sometimes that is just where you end up. If you can build a strong bullpen out of players you have brought up through your system, it is better than paying a guy out of free agency with how volatile bullpens can be season to season.
A.J. Puckett was the 13th best prospect in the Royals system and brings with him a 90-94 mph fastball with some sink to it along with a plus changeup and an average curveball. According to most scouts, Puckett is a pitcher with a very high baseball IQ and knows that he has to work the corners to get hitters out since he doesn’t have anything that is overpowering at this point of his career. In 108 innings this year at High-A ball, Puckett is striking out about 8 batters per nine innings while allowing close to 4 walks per nine. That is part of the danger when you aren’t able to just blow a fastball past a batter or use the breaking ball as a wipe out pitch on a 2 strike count. A positive thing about Puckett is he is getting batters to ground out nearly half of the time during his 2017 season, but his current profile has him pegged as a 4th starter due to his limited strikeout upside.
The White Sox also acquired the left-handed Andre Davis, who was unranked in the Kansas City Royals system and has had a rough season so far in Low-A Ball for the Royals farm as he is carrying a 4.83 ERA. However, while he has an awfully high ERA here in 2017, all of the peripherals point to some regression in a positive way as Davis is striking out nine batters per nine while walking less than 2.5 batters per nine innings. On top of that, Davis’ FIP (fielder independent pitching) is 3.98 shows that Davis’ has been pitching well, but is running in to some bad luck during this 2017 campaign. The biggest issue that Andre Davis has shown in 2017 is his inability to prevent line drives while also getting killed by right handers. The lefty has been able to hold down opponents who are hitting lefty as he has a .216 batting average against in 97 at bats this year and has only walked 4 lefties while striking out 32 left-handed batters. At this point, Andre Davis looks like he could be a good bullpen arm for the White Sox in a couple of years if he can’t figure out how to prevent right-handed batters from reaching base.
This trade was another vote of confidence from the front office of the Kansas City Royals to its players while the Sox continue to acquire pieces for the future and getting worse for a better draft pick in 2018. Melky is going to be a big piece for the Royals since he played in Kansas City in 2011 and will fill the offensive hole that has been left field for Kansas City this year. With 60 games left in the season and the Royals holding a 2.5 game lead over Tampa Bay in the second wild card spot, the Royals are making one last push for a World Series before they lose the long time core of Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and Mike Moustakas.