After a half-decade at or near the top of the AL Central, two appearances in the World Series and one championship, the Royals now look to be going in the opposite direction. As Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas all hit the free-agent market, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes (subscription required/recommended) that the Royals “expect to step back for perhaps three seasons” and embark on a rebuilding effort. Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star also penned an excellent column on the Royals’ trajectory over the weekend, reporting that Kansas City appears headed for a “substantial rebuild across the next two or three seasons.”

Royals GM Dayton Moore suggests to Dodd that the Royals have to at least be open-minded to virtually any trade scenario: “If somebody blows your doors off on something, you always have to look at it.”

That, according to Rosenthal, could even include controllable pieces like Whit Merrifield, who broke out with a .288/.324/.460 slash and an AL-leading 34 stolen bases last season. Rosenthal also notes that Kansas City would listen to offers on left-handed reliever Scott Alexander, who notched a 2.48 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a ridiculous 73.8 percent ground-ball rate in 69 innings last year. Both players are controlled through the 2022 season and are still two years removed from arbitration eligibility.

Beyond that pairing, the Royals have a few more obvious trade candidates. Kelvin Herrera and Joakim Soria are both quality right-handed relievers that are just one year from free agency, though neither is signed at a bargain rate. Herrera projects to earn $8.3MM in arbitration, while Soria is still owed $10MM through the end of his contract. Jason Hammel didn’t have a strong first season in Kansas City but ate up 180 innings with quality K/BB numbers and a 4.37 FIP. He’s still owed $11MM through 2o18. Left-hander Danny Duffy, signed for another four years and $60MM, would represent one of the top starting pitching options on the trade market if the Royals field offers on him.