St. Louis Cardinals infielder Kolten Wong made himself famous in the worst of ways last Sunday, becoming the first player in MLB history to lose a World Series game by being picked off. As heartbreaking as that must be for him, I couldn’t help but think selfishly as soon as that ridiculous moment transpired.
I remember thinking, “Will this lower his trade value? I sure hope so.” I know that sounds vain, but Wong should consider it a compliment. It only means I’m aware of how much bringing him to Kansas City would mean.
I know I’ve been preaching about the Royals’ need for a power upgrade, and Wong doesn’t look all that intimidating in the batter’s box. However, he actually recorded an OPS of .835 at the Triple-A level. In his last year as a member of the Memphis Redbirds, Wong put up an impressive .303/.369/.466 line with 10 homers and 21 doubles in 107 games.
Defense is another crucial factor to consider if Kansas City can woo him away from St. Louis. The vast majority of bargain-bin options for right fielders in the free agency market provide average to below average defense. Wong will definitely not have that problem. He can also steal and run the bases, unlike many of the older or more injury-riddled free agents available. Given his athleticism, shifting over from the infield to a corner outfield spot shouldn’t be too much of a transition.
If the Cards are willing to part ways with him, bringing Wong to KC would be a great move. The Royals should and probably will consider trading anything short of their third-best prospect to make a trade happen, but they have to be careful about trading off young pitching like Yordano Ventura or Danny Duffy. Trading anyone below that level of value would still be a move in the right direction for KC.
Maybe then the Royals could find a reasonably priced upgrade for right field and still re-sign Ervin Santana. A man can dream, right?