The Kansas City Royals attempted to fix their OF issues by acquiring the 29-year old center fielder of the Houston Astros, Justin Maxwell. The Houston Astros traded OF Justin Maxwell to the Kansas City Royals for RHP Kyle Smith.
The acquisition of Maxwell is only a slight upgrade on David Lough right now as neither shows much of a platoon difference from the RF position. This is a bit unexpected because Lough bats from the left side while Maxwell bats from the right but their platoon splits are very similar at .213/.295/.340 vs RHP and .302/.348/.488 vs LHP for Maxwell and .289/.305/.428 vs RHP and .298/.320/.447 vs LHP for David Lough. From the looks of it, Maxwell will get the starts against RHP while Lough will continue to start against LHP. Further than just a platoon split, Maxwell offers power potential from right field. He has only hit 4 so far on the season but his 19 from last season show that the power is there. The Royals will hope that Maxwell can find his power stroke to end the season and get them into the post-season
In exchange for one of their better outfielders this season (a position that they have some intriguing prospects coming up in the coming years) the Astros will receive RHP Kyle Smith. Smith, the #12 prospect in the Royals system according Baseball America profiles as a possible #4 starter at the major league level but doesn’t possess overpowering stuff. He is a smaller pitcher at 5’11” but has a very advanced feel for pitching. He works well by changing eye levels of the opposing hitters and working both sides of the plate.
He works off his fastball but features a plus curveball and projectable changeup. Smith is never going to blow anyone away but he can definitely work his way into a major league rotation at the back end or could end up being a long reliever. It will be hard to determine just how good he is until he starts facing batters that have some more seasoning because even though he doesn’t have electric stuff, his advanced style of pitching allows him to mow down low minors batters with proper location and pitch sequencing.
Overall a good haul for the Astros for an outfielder that is 29 and probably a 4th OF/platoon OF at the major league level. The athleticism and power potential of Maxwell makes this an intriguing but risky move for the Kansas City Royals as they likely are not headed to the playoffs this season. But in this weak trade market Maxwell is decent player to bring in for the stretch run.