After taking some time off from the Royals organization and taking many long walks alone with only my negative thoughts to comfort me, Dayton Moore did a funny thing yesterday – he made a great move. He acquired a pitcher who statistically is our best pitcher since Zack Greinke. It really isn’t much of a trade because of the circumstances I’ll touch on below, it is essentially a one year deal for a legitimate pitcher that immediately becomes the best pitcher in our rotation. Well done.
Let’s talk about Santana first. He will turn 30 this December, so age is not an issue (rarely is on a one year deal anyway). He pitched eight seasons for Anaheim. He had four good years and four not so good years. He is not the model of consistency. OK, Good, Bad, Awesome, Bad, Good, Great, Bad. A career 7.1 SO/9 is a good rate, 2.9 BB/9 is a bit high, but not Mike Montgomery high. He is fairly durable – average 191 IP per year after rookie year. He is a fastball/slider guy who is probably a legitimate #3-4 on other rosters, maybe a #2 on his high end years, but overall a 3-4. However, on our roster, he is a #1, sadly.
So why did we only have to give up a 27 year old LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY)? Because the Angels had a deadline of Wednesday to pick up his team option for $13M or buy him out for $1M. It was well known they were going to buy him out because they want to free up money to sign Greinke. So, if they couldn’t find a deal they would eat $1M and let Santana walk with nothing in return. We gave them a 27 year old relief pitcher, Brandon Sisk. He is a decent arm, but bullpen is our biggest strength, so giving him up for a good starter is a good deal. The Angels are throwing us cash too, $1M I hear. They were going to eat that anyway, so not much, but still something. So essentially we signed Santana to a 1 year deal for $12M.
The biggest takeaway is that David Glass just ok’d the addition of a $12M pitcher for one year. He is a free agent after this year, so this is not a long term guy, but a much needed shot in the arm for credibility, fan support, and just to have a decent arm in the rotation. If we suck again this year (shocker I know) and he is pitching well, we could flip him at the deadline. If he has a good year, we can offer him a qualifying offer – which would essentially be another 1 year deal at $13M. If he accepts, great, we have another arm for 2014. If he doesn’t, we get a compensation pick in the 2014 draft, which is also great. The only risk here is $12M of David Glass’s money, which I’m not too concerned about. You could argue that this $12M will keep us from singing a long term deal to a FA, but here are my thoughts on that…
NO ONE GOOD WANTS TO COME HERE. No one. Seriously, it will be very difficult to get a marquee FA to sign a long term deal here. Brandon McCarthy was mentioned earlier and I think he is very realistic. I would sign him. You aren’t getting Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse (who I don’t want), etc. You probably aren’t even getting Guthrie, as someone will probably give him a 3 year deal and that someone shouldn’t be us. He is 34 and not worth a 3/24M deal that is being rumored. I’d give him 2/16, but not that 3rd year. We will have to win some playoff games before any real starter considers coming here, so what do we do? Trade!
We are going to have to trade a good prospect to get pitchers. Trades are the only way to get legitimate talent when you can’t sign them in free agency. Trade for stud and trap him here, perfect. I don’t want to trade Myers for a pitcher, his right handed bat is just too damn valuable (unless we’re talking David Price, then I’ll listen). I don’t want to trade Jake Odorizzi or Kyle Zimmer because they are both close to the majors. Yes, they may not pan out, but they are lower risk, lower ceiling guys than Montgomery, Duffy and some of the other prospects who haven’t panned out yet. These are athletic right handers with repeatable deliveries that should be safe bets to be mainstays in the rotation – though not as a #1 or #2. Zimmer maybe, but Odorizzi is probably a 3-4 guy, but that is ok because he is durable and will be trapped here for 6 affordable years, I’m still high on him even if scouts have dropped off him.
So who to trade then? Bubba Starling, Yordana Ventura, Aaron Crow, Jason Adam, Cheslor Cuthbert, or very young, raw Latin American signings. Starling is so far away I would trade him now. He is boom/bust, so I would move him now. Ventura is a great prospect but has durability issues and you have to give to get. I don’t know if they will make Crow a starter and I don’t know if he can even be valuable there, but he is a name, has had success in the bullpen, and we are deep there – so I would move him. Adam is a big RHP who is durable but lower ceiling, I like him, but again, he is expendable. Cuthbert was a stud 3B prospect before having a very poor 2012 season. Still very young and raw, so has value, but you are selling low. We have some very promising though very young players: Adalberto Mondesi, Elier Hernandez. We paid big money for them and they have been solid, but they are 4-5 years away, so I would move them. I would move any of these guys to go after ML ready pitchers. James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson are on the block as Rays are looking to cut costs. I would like to package for one of them. I think that is your best bet if you don’t want to trade Gordon, Butler, Hosmer, Moose, Myers – then you have to give up Starling, Ventura, and probably one more prospect all together.
Oh I forgot the best part. There is speculation that the reason Glass ok’d this was because they decided to release Luke Hochevar which would save $5M in arbitration money. Use those savings to help pay for Santana. Please God, Please.
Exit Question: Who would you be willing trade to get a legitimate pitcher?