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The Adalberto Mondesi trade reflects a more pragmatic approach by the royals and frees both sides


Speaking with owner John Sherman in the winter of 2021, then-Royals general manager Dayton Moore laid out a vision for the pillars of the franchise’s future: to maximize the amount of time that then-31-year-old Salvador Pérez, Adalberto Mondesi (then 25) and Bobby Witt Jr. (then 20) ) played together.

“We have to figure out how to do it while we can,” Moore recalled to Sherman while sitting at Arvest Stadium in Springdale, Arkansas, in May of that year.

Moore was going to watch the rising Witt and the recovering Mondesi play together for the first time in a regular season game. Moore said that evening that the idea of ​​pairing the amazingly talented—and equally unlucky—Mondesi at shortstop with Witt (then the top player in baseball) in third place “had a chance to be special.”

Of course he did.

But the short-term dream faded after just 15 games last season when Mondesi suffered another debilitating injury to end his season.

And that prospect vanished completely on Tuesday when the Royals announced they had traded the enigmatic Mondesi and a player who would later be named to Boston for 29-year-old reliever Josh Taylor, who missed all of last season with a back injury.

The trade was announced the day after the Royals traded outfielder Michael A. Taylor to Minnesota for minor league pitchers Evan Sisk and Steven Cruz.

This led to two moves that, especially taken together, speak of a shrewd value-seeking strategy for veteran players whose contracts expire next year – a dynamic that the Royals have not always accepted, and which in a way has thus been in the spotlight. their fall after winning the 2015 World Series.

According to Royals general manager and vice president of baseball operations J.J. Picollo, it’s now open to debate when those numbers will peak. And as he noted, the royals were definitely in no rush to make deals.

But one particular element of those considerations stood out when Piccollo spoke to the media on Tuesday afternoon.

“If any of the players get injured within the time limit,” he said, “then it doesn’t matter.”

Although Picollo was not directly involved in Mondesi’s injury history, of course it must have been part of the calculation.

But now the Mondesi wait is over.

And with that, the weight of it all went away… on him and on the members of the royal family.

Because now they have all this anticipation and annoyance about a player with transcendent potential who has only averaged 51 games a year in the seven years since being called up to the 2015 playoffs.

If Mondesi had been able to stay healthy, gosh, these largely sad last five years in particular might look and feel different.

But, strangely enough, time and time again he could not stay on the field.

At least not here, no matter how much time and effort the members of the royal family and Mondesi himself put into it.

So the move offers Mondesi a reboot that could possibly help him realize at least some semblance of his potential when he turns 28 in June or sooner. And that gives the royals some clarity as they aimed to make Witt a priority as an everyday shortstop.

It must be said that Picollo politely disagreed with the suggestion that this was a broader organizational shift. With only a year left on his contract with Mondesi, he said, “Anyway, he was probably going to play somewhere else in the future, so I don’t think it’s the end of an era.”

It certainly looks like yet another announcement of an ongoing transition from one, albeit gradually at first, with Picollo’s ascent to the role of CEO in late 2021.

And even more so last season and even more since Moore was sacked last fall, which in itself is a big change after 16 years. Shortly thereafter, and certainly not in the way Moore would have done, manager Mike Matheny was fired and replaced by Matt Quatraro.

In this context, these deals reflect the recent trend towards more transactional deals (from June 27 to last year’s trade deadline, the Royals acquired 13 players) and an increasingly pragmatic approach to the sentimentality anyone might feel, in particular towards Mondesi. .

For that matter, Picollo called the list of 40 “in-progress” and that its configuration is not yet “complete”.

(He declined to comment on the reported but unannounced last week signing of pitcher Aroldis Chapman, but another reason to trade Michael A. Taylor would be to make room for Chapman.)

Coincident or not, as the list continues to grow, it’s no surprise that when I spoke to Quatraro last week, he said he hadn’t even scribbled a potential lineup on a napkin.

A good thing. Because, no matter how the parts looked then, they already look very different.

Aside from the new bullpen reinforcements providing more versatility and depth, even with the addition of Jordan Lyles and Ryan Yarborough to the Royals this offseason, a center field position previously held by Taylor (who won the Gold Glove in 2021), at least At least it will initially be contested between Kyle Isbel and — Drew Waters,” Picollo said.

In the most practical way, this deal allows the royals to make room to see what they really have in Isbel and Waters… and thus help plan for 2024, 2025 and 2026.

What’s more, even if the moves weren’t driven by financial considerations, they “freed up some money and that’s okay,” said Picollo, who said he expected the money to help fill the roster with wages expected to range from 85 to 90 dollars. million

And let’s not forget, as Piccollo put it, that each of these trades was “depending on profits”… which we won’t really know for years to come.

Until we know what it all means, we know the following:

It’s a pity that Mondesi has come to this.

But as much as I’d love to see him appear with the royals, at some point there may have been a hope reminiscent of that single definition of insanity: essentially doing the same thing over and over again (in the sense that he is part of the royal family). , that is, not the absence of a change of approaches) and the expectation of different results.

So call it the end of an era or not, it still matters a lot. And we hope it will be as liberating and productive for Mondesi as it is for members of the royal family.

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