Finishing the month of July with an AL-best 16 wins, the Kansas City Royals added to their postseason ambitions by acquiring outfielder Melky Cabrera prior to the end of the month’s MLB trading deadline.
Kansas City dealt pitching prospects A.J. Puckett and Andre Davis in order to acquire the 32 year-old veteran on Sunday. The trade marks Cabrera’s second go-around with the Royals, as he spent the entire 2011 season with the team collecting a .305 batting average, 18 home runs and 87 RBIs.
“I will go there try to help the team win games,” Cabrera said following the trade. “They acquired me for a reason. I hope to help them.”
In his first game back on Monday, Cabrera made a quiet, but an immediate impact for the Royals. He slotted third in the lineup and reaching base once in four at-bats, although Kansas City fell 2-1 on a walk-off loss.
Cabrera offers durability that could also be valuable for the team’s stretch run, having played more than 150 games in five different seasons. With 32 games remaining against AL Central Division opponents this year, the Royals also value Cabrera’s .294 batting average, 8 home runs and 34 RBIs combined against Cleveland, Detroit and Minnesota this season.
For the final two months of the regular season, the larger discovery remains how will this affect playing time for other Royals regulars moving forward. Prior to Monday’s game, manager Ned Yost said rookie Jorge Bonifacio may see increased time at designated hitter, while veterans Brandon Moss and Alex Gordon could also receive more days off based on health and performance.
“The important thing is to focus on how he’s going to lengthen our lineup,” Royals’ general manager Dayton Moore said on acquiring Cabrera. “The fact is that we were searching for a hitter that could hit at the top of the order and get everybody in a more comfortable spot in the order.”
The move could provide extra rest that benefits all three players. Bonifacio could sharpen his offensive statline of .258/.327/.446, while Moss and Gordon could platoon in more favorable matchups against right-handed hitters in ballpark friendly parks.
Cabrera will be one of several experienced Royals bats set for free agency in the offseason, and he could join the likes of players like Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas depending on which players are offered extensions.
Heading into August, Cabrera and the Royals are 2.0 games back of the Cleveland Indians for the AL Central lead, but hold the second half Wild Card spot by 2.5 games.