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MLB trade rumor grade: Marco Estrada to the Royals?

The Royals clearly want pitching, and the Blue Jays are, barring a miracle, out of the race. Hmm ...

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Welcome (back?) to our trade deadline series where we take a look at a rumor to determine just how believable and likely it is. Rumors can just come out all over the place, and we’ve decided it’s our job to let you know if they pass the smell test and beyond.

SB Nation’s own Chris Cotillo reports that the Royals are interested in trading for Blue Jays’ starter Marco Estrada. Yes, that’s right, even someone who works for us is not free from the scrutiny we’re bringing to trade deadline season. Never dunk on others if you can’t handle being dunked on yourself. Pretty sure that’s in the Bible somewhere.

Let’s dive in.

What the Royals would gain by trading for Marco Estrada

The Royals sure could use another starting pitcher. They’ve leaned heavily on Jason Vargas this season, which has worked out to this point, but the fact remains that he’s Jason Vargas. His last two starts were duds that brought his ERA from 2.22 to 3.06, and he’s averaging six innings per start on the year. That’s not a bad rate or anything, but he’s also not consistently pitching super deep into games like a legitimate staff ace, either.

Of course, the Royals also have Danny Duffy, but injuries and ineffectiveness have been the norm for the non-Duffy/Vargas portions of the rotation, and that’s how Kansas City has ended up with 11 different starting pitchers in 2017. It’s still July, by the way.

So, adding Estrada might not be a bad idea. He’s having a rough 2017, with his ERA at 5.33, but otherwise his surface numbers look pretty similar to his last two seasons, which were pretty good. The difference is that Estrada is allowing far more hits this year, so even though he’s also racking up more strikeouts, the change from unhittable guy except for when he’s giving up homers to guy who gives up hits before he gives up homers has been a tough one.

However, this combined with it being the last year of his contract with the Blue Jays means he should be relatively cheap for the Royals, who are three games back of the AL Central lead but are also under .500. They should invest in improving for the second half, but they also probably shouldn’t go overboard and unload any future assets they might have — especially since there aren’t that many. Estrada is a potential change-of-scenery guy who could benefit from pitching in a weaker division and more pitcher-friendly park, especially with his home run tendencies.

Hey, it’s mostly worked for Vargas and Ian Kennedy.

What the Blue Jays would gain by trading Marco Estrada

The Jays wouldn’t get a haul for Estrada, but also, they might get more for him now than if they wait around for him to pitch well enough to deserve a qualifying offer and the compensation that could come with it assuming Estrada’s new free agent deal merits said compensation. By the way, that whole system is a huge mess now if you’re trying to predict who is going to get an offer or not.

Toronto dangling Estrada out there to a team desperate for pitching — read that as most teams in contention — should earn them more than holding on to the pending free agent in the hopes he rebounds for them. That, and they’ll save a bit of money by sending him off somewhere. Or they could agree to pay some of the remaining salary — Estrada makes a total of $14.5 million this year — and maybe bump up the quality of prospect return.

Rumor Grade

This one is a B+. The Royals want Estrada, and it makes sense that they would try to get Estrada, but the Blue Jays front office might want more from him than the Royals can offer since they could always sit back and hope Estrada rebounds and they benefit from it this offseason, either by re-signing the right-hander or through compensation. That kind of muddies the waters when it comes to the likelihood of a deal, even if from a believability standpoint, everything checks out.