Ring the bell! The MLB trade season is off and running. The Kansas City Royals have traded left-handed reliever Aroldis Chapman to the Texas Rangers in exchange for left-handed pitcher Cole Ragans and 17-year-old outfielder Roni Cabrera per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
It should come as no surprise that the Royals are one of the first teams to make a trade at the deadline as they have one of the worst records in the major leagues at 23-58.
Coming off a miserable 2022 campaign, the Royals took a shot on signing Chapman to a one-year deal this offseason with the hopes he would bounce back to his elite form. It’s fairly easy to say that Chapman has been a bright spot in a dismal Royals season.
Chapman carries a 2.45 ERA with 53 strikeouts over 29.1 innings pitched. He has been sitting consistently in the high 90s, low 100s. His fastball and Whiff% are in the 100th percentile. He’s just been absolutely electric.
For the Texas Rangers, Chapman immediately becomes a force in the back-end of their bullpen. The Rangers have been such a fun story this year, shocking the world by having a five game lead over the powerhouse Houston Astros. They didn’t hesitate and acted quickly to bring in Chapman with the hopes of maintaining their lead in the second half.
The Rangers have received decent performances from some of their bullpen arms like Will Smith and others, but were in need of some depth to lengthen their pen, especially with some injuries that have hit their rotation and bullpen. Rangers fans will likely be very excited with the move.
The Royals pick up two interesting players with a lot of upside. Cole Ragans is a 25-year-old former first round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft and has gone through a ton of adversity throughout his career having to come back from two Tommy John surgeries. Ragans has been known to have starter stuff as he carries a plus changeup and just this spring his fastball was up to the mid-90s and touching high-90s after he put on some weight.
Roni Cabrera is a prospect the Royals typically have not gone after in the past when Dayton Moore was the general manager. They never took a risk on the young players still in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) or Arizona Complex League (ACL). Cabrea is still just 17 years old in his second stint of the DSL. He’s slashing .320/.469/.620 with 18.8% walk rate and 10% strikeout rate. He brings some excitement and potential upside added to the Royals farm system.
This is not likely the last move for either team. The Rangers will continue to be looking for reinforcements as they aim to maintain their run for the AL West title.
The Royals have plenty of other assets that could be on the move as they continue their rebuild. Don’t be surprised if we see the likes of Scott Barlow, Taylor Clarke, Matt Duffy, and many others in new uniforms before the deadline.