? ESPN Insider will provide trade grades for every deal before the 4 p.m. ET deadline on July 31.
Kansas City Royals: C
The Royals have won nine of 10 entering Sunday’s action and continue to make incremental upgrades to the roster, adding Cabrera after previously upgrading their pitching depth with help from the Padres in getting Trevor Cahill, Ryan Buchter and Brandon Maurer in a deal. These aren’t splashy names, but I love the effort from general manager Dayton Moore doing what he can with a weak farm system to trade from.
The Royals have been winning despite getting no offense from left field or shortstop and not much from their designated hitters. Alex Gordon is hitting .201/.294/.296, making him one of the worst-hitting regulars in the league (although better than Alcides Escobar). With his .295/.336/.436 line, Cabrera is basically a league-average hitter, maybe a little better, so he’s a clear upgrade at the plate over Gordon.
Defense is another matter, however, as Gordon remains an elite defender while Cabrera is below-average. The difference in value between the two has been minimal, with Cabrera worth 1.1 WAR and Gordon 0.7. Cabrera could actually get some time at designated hitter (at Brandon Moss’ expense), with Gordon still playing when the Royals start their more extreme fly ball pitchers. Although giving manager Ned Yost more flexibility can be a dangerous thing. (I kid, I kid.)
Chicago White Sox: B-
The Royals don’t have much on the farm, but GM Rick Hahn was able to extract Puckett as the primary prospect in this deal. Puckett was Kansas City’s No. 13 prospect at midseason according to MLB.com, and was a second-round pick last year out of Pepperdine. He has spent all of 2017 at Class A Wilmington, where he has a 3.90 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 108 ⅓ innings. Puckett is more about a high floor as a prospect than a high ceiling, and adds to the expanding inventory of starting pitching prospects the White Sox have. His best pitch is a changeup to go with his 90-94 mph fastball and he’s well-regarded for his pitching IQ. He’ll have to improve his command — 46 walks so far — as he moves up the chain, but he’s at least a good bet to surface as a reliever. Simply getting a decent prospect for Cabrera is worth the deal for the White Sox.