After a weak winter meetings, baseball’s offseason has begun to heat up. Zack Greinke signed a six-year $147 million contract to join the new evil empire — Los Angeles Dodgers. After quite possibly the biggest free agent signing of this offseason took place, the trade market woke up.
A Royal Blunder Makes Tampa Bay Treasure
Kansas City GM Dayton Moore has made some questionable moves for the Royals. He promised to make the team a better competitor by re-vamping their starting rotation.
Moore’s big upgrade started off with trading for Ervin Santana who went 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA in 2012. Step two of upgrading the rotation was throwing three years and $25 million to Jeremy Guthrie, who is 33 years old and went 8-14 with a 4.76 ERA in 2012.
To top it all off, Moore traded Baseball America‘s Minor League Player of the Year, right fielder Wil Myers, and three other solid prospects to the Tampa Bay Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis. Three strikes and you’re out Kansas City.
The Royals got a great starting pitcher in James Shields and Wade Davis can be a solid No. 4 or 5 starter when he goes back to the rotation this year.
Shields seemed bound to be traded this offseason and though he has been a true workhorse, he has greatly been a product of Tropicana Field. Shields has a 3.33 ERA when pitching at Tropicana Field and 4.54 ERA when pitching anywhere else. The Royals simply gave up too much in this trade.
This trade is centered around Wil Myers, who is not a good prospect, but a big-time great prospect.
In 2012, Myers hit .314/.387/.600 between Double-A and Triple-A with 37 home runs. He did this all at only 21 years old.
I understand that not every mega-prospect winds up in the Hall of Fame, but the Royals lost in a big way this time. Myers would have been a much better option than Jeff Francoeur in right field this season and if Moore did not overspend on Guthrie and for some reason trade for Santana, the Royals offseason could have been completely different.
Dayton Moore wants the Royals to win now, but this trade does not guarantee that. Moore could have overspent on a pitcher like Anibal Sanchez or even threw a big bag of money Zack Greinke’s way to make him a Royal again. Myers would have joined a very young and talented team that would have a bright future and be better in the present.
Myers is clearly the big name of this trade, but the three other prospects are no slouches. Jake Odorizzi is a major league ready pitcher and will find his way into the young Rays rotation eventually. Mike Montgomery was one of the best minor league pitcher’s in baseball two years ago and the Royals giving up on him could be a huge mistake. Patrick Leonard — who I played with at Junior Olympics when I was 16 and he was 15 — hit 14 home runs in 62 games as a 20 year-old in rookie ball this season.
A move that Moore made to keep his job may eventually cost him his job. I would not be surprised if Myers becomes the Rays best hitter behind Evan Longoria at some point this year.
Rays: A Royals: C-
Arizona, Cincinnati and Cleveland Pull Off A Three-Way
During the winter meetings, a three-way trade between the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers was constantly talked about.
Well instead of the Rangers, the Cincinnati Reds have jumped in and Justin Upton is still in Arizona for now. Unlike the Royals and Rays, this trade benefits all sides in different ways.
The Reds received Shin-Soo Choo from the Cleveland Indians. Choo will play center field for the Reds even though he was primarily in right in Cleveland.
In 2012, Choo hit .283/.373/.441 with 16 home runs and 21 stolen bases. He brings a solid speed and power combination at the leadoff spot for one year before speedster Billy Hamilton comes to the pros. The trade allows Hamilton to spend more time in center and work on his offense in the minors for another year. Choo has been one of the most underrated players in baseball every year.
The Indians biggest acquisitions of the trade were Trevor Bauer and Drew Stubbs.
Bauer was the third overall pick of the 2011 draft and has been compared to Tim Lincecum for his goofy delivery and arsenal of pitches. He struggled in his short stint in the pros last season, but he dominated the minors. If he can work on his control, the Indians scored a future ace that is under team control for six years.
Stubbs, 28, was the eighth-pick in the 2006 draft and has not lived up to the potential. He only hit .213/.277/.333 with 14 home runs this past season. Still Stubbs is a solid defensive player in center and he is only 28 years old. The talent is there, the Indians have to hope he can unleash his potential.
The Diamondbacks now have the young shortstop they have been seeking. No, he is not Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, but Didi Gregorious gives the Diamondbacks what they have been looking for. He is only 22 years old and he reminds Arizona GM Kevin Towers of a young Derek Jeter. That is a big reach, but Arizona should be excited about his future.
All three teams benefited in this complex trade.
Reds: A- Indians: B+ Diamondbacks: B