Royals Ship Adalberto Mondesí to Red Sox for Josh Taylor

Another trade went down on January 24, and involved the Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals. In need of a shortstop, the Red Sox acquired Royals infielder Adalberto Mondesi to fill the void left behind by Xander Bogaerts. In return, the Sox send reliever Josh Taylor to Kansas City.

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The Red Sox Return

The Red Sox pick up shortstop Adalberto Mondesi in this swap. Mondesi was a highly-regarded prospect in the Royals farm system in the mid-2010s, thanks to his tantalizing tools. Mondesi boasted above-average pop, to go along with plus speed and a pretty solid glove at short.

Across seven seasons in the Majors, the pull-heavy Mondesi has hit .244/.280/.406 over 1,366 plate appearances. Mondesi walks very little, and a career K% rate of 30.2%, as well as Chase% and Whiff% rates over 10% below the league average highlight a major flaw in the 27-year-old’s profile. The ex-Royal is one of the league’s most aggressive hitters, an approach that comes with its hits and big misses.

Defensively, Mondesi is a extremely effective defender at short. The new Red Sox infielder boasts plus range and arm strength, and should actually be an improvement defensive-wise than new Padre Xander Bogaerts.

Getting back to range for a second, Mondesi does possesses elite speed when healthy on the field. The infielder has swiped at least 30 or more bags in two separate campaigns, and stole a league-leading 24 during the COVID-shortened 2020 season.

The Royals Return

In return for Mondesi, the Royals acquired left-handed reliever Josh Taylor. Taylor missed all of the 2022 MLB season due to a back issue, even though the lefty did attempt to rehab it in the Minors throughout parts of the spring and summer. Across 12 innings in the MiLB, Taylor recorded a 6.00 ERA with three walks, 12 strikeouts, and 20 hits allowed.

A year prior, Taylor turned into an important arm for the Red Sox team that made it to the ALCS. Even though the 29-year-old sported a 4.3 BB/9, Taylor recorded a 3.40 ERA with 60 strikeouts over 47.2 innings. The lefty boasts a good mid-90’s fastball and an above-average slider that was his best weapon in 2021. Taylor’s breaking ball yielded a .198 batting average and a Whiff% close to 50% in 2021.

Taylor did an impressive job of getting batters to miss on his stuff and induce weak contact when healthy in 2021, his best season to date. Now, he heads to Kansas City.

A Recap

This deal makes a fair amount of sense on both ends, but we’ll start with the Royals. This marks the second trade by Kansas City in 24 hours, as the Royals dealt Michael A. Taylor to Minnesota a day earlier. The move involves giving up an intriguing piece in Mondesi, but a player that doesn’t fit with the Royals’ long-term plan.

With Bobby Witt Jr. firmly entrenched at shortstop, the Royals really only had two options with the 27-year-old: either move the oft-injured shortstop in a trade, or shift Mondesi to second base. Second baseman Nicky Lopez did struggle last season for the Royals, but the Creighton product does get on base more often and has more controllability than Mondesi. In return, the Royals get a controllable lefty to join a bullpen that includes newcomer LHP Aroldis Chapman, LHP Amir Garrett, RHP Dylan Coleman, and closer Scott Barlow.

Boston does give up a reliever in this deal, a bit of a tough pill to swallow given that the Red Sox have had issues on that side of the pitching staff. However, the Red Sox did need a middle for this season after the departure of Xander Bogaerts and injury to Trevor Story. Even though manager Alex Cora did state that Enrique Hernández would be the man to hold down short this past weekend, Mondesi is a better fit. Plus, the 27-year-old does carry a fair amount of upside for 2023 and beyond.

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