Mock Trade #2
To TB: OF Edward Olivares
To KC: IF Jonathan Aranda, LHP Josh Fleming
This one has a few more strings attached because Olivares is currently injured and likely won't be activated until after the deadline, making this a potential trade not unlike the deal that sent Eddie Rosario to the Braves in 2021. Rays fans are thoroughly sick of injured players by now, but Olivares doesn't appear to have a long-term injury (quad strain), and he's an outfielder that can hit, something that has been sorely missed in St. Pete this year. He's only 26 years old, meaning he is under team control for a while, and has stepped up somewhat surprisingly to be one of Kansas City's best hitters this year.
He's batting over .300 with an OPS+ of 123, and has experience at all 3 outfield positions. He hasn't offered much in the slugging department (just 7 extra base-hits in 36 games this season), but he's a young outfielder who can hit the ball hard (89.8 average exit velocity) that's worth taking a flyer on, just because Rays outfielders have had so much trouble at the plate this season. He could also be a long-term solution in center field on a team that, with Kiermaier's contract expiring after this year, doesn't have many.
From the Royals' perspective, it might seem like a bad idea to trade a young outfielder with both power and speed, but they would be a lot more tempted if Jonathan Aranda were part of the return. Aranda is a 24-year-old infielder (mostly second and first base) that is mashing at AAA, with 14 home runs and a .957 OPS in 75 games. That performance has awarded him his first 7 games at the Major League level, a sample in which he posted a .375 batting average.
Aranda is one of the Rays' more underrated prospects and he still doesn't have a permanent spot on the big league roster for whatever reason. He would also join an already exciting group of young infielders in K.C., headlined by Bobby Witt Jr. and Vinnie Pasquantino. In addition, I have Kansas City asking for one more piece in this trade, left-handed pitcher Josh Fleming.
Fleming is also on the IL with an oblique injury, due to return in mid-August. His ERA sits at 6.84 and his WHIP at 1.98, but that is mostly driven by plenty of unlucky hits against: His 4.15 FIP and 4.27 xERA indicate that he is closer to being an average pitcher than someone who deserves to be in the minor leagues, and his average of just over 3 innings per appearance make him usable as either an opener or long reliever. A fresh start in a low-pressure environment could help him get back on track.