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American League

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Acquired OF-S Billy Burns from Oakland Athletics in exchange for OF-R Brett Eibner. [7/30]

Burns was made for Kansas City. The speedy outfielder also possesses the contact-centric offensive game that the Royals covet. He’s in the midst of a miserable sophomore season, hitting .234/.270/.303 in 292 plate appearances before being demoted to Triple-A, but he’s just a year removed from a respectable .265 TAv in his big-league debut. His 10.3 percent strikeout rate in 2016—down from 14.6 percent last year—ranks ninth in the majors among hitters with at least 250 PAs, partly a product of his ability to foul off two-strike pitches. He also ranks seventh in overall base running this season despite the abbreviated playing time.

Contact ability and speed aside, the reality is that Burns hardly qualifies as a difference maker. Even with the lack of strikeouts, PECOTA projects him for a paltry .237 TAv going forward, and the defensive metrics don’t love him in center field. That said, he profiles as a poor-man’s Jarrod Dyson, and he’s five years younger than the Royals’ incumbent fourth outfielder. The Royals have shown the ability to get the most out of speed-first outfielders like Burns—in five full-time seasons as a Royal, Dyson hasn’t received more than 330 PAs in a season yet he’s racked up 7.5 WARP (and 10.3 fWAR). Burns, if deployed correctly, could follow a similar path as a useful bench player. —Dustin Palmateer

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Acquired OF-R Brett Eibner from Kansas City Royals in exchange for OF-S Billy Burns. [7/30]

A second-round selection in 2010, Eibner struck out in nearly 31 percent of his plate appearances over his first three seasons of professional ball. Those hacktastic ways prompted Jason Parks, when asked if there was any chance the outfielder could turn into an adequate major-league hitter, to respond abruptly: “I don’t think so, sorry.” Eibner made some strides as an older bat in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, turning in his finest offensive season to date in 2015 (.312 TAv, 18.3 K%, 431 PAs) and building on that success this year (.309 TAv, 22.0 K%, 219 PAs).

Perhaps just as encouragingly, Eibner’s held his own in a major-league cup of coffee this season, hitting .231/.286/.423 in 85 plate appearances, showing the type of pop that could help him stick around as a spare outfielder. As Adam McInturff noted in the spring, there’s still plenty of swing-and-miss in Eibner’s game despite the improved strikeout numbers, but his power-athleticism combo makes him an interesting guy to watch—at least as far as 27-year-old non-prospects go. —Dustin Palmateer

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