MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 02: Zack Greinke #13 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch in Game Two of the National League Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Miller Park on October 2, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Kansas City Royals made many trades in 2011, including moving pitcher Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers. We take a look back at the moves made and visit how things turned out for the Royals.
At the end of each season I often like to go back and review what the Royals received against what was given up in trades. While there are instances you won't realize a trade value until many years after (Larry Andersen for Jeff Bagwell, anyone?), it's fun to take a look back and see what the early returns were.
We'll look at the trades made between the end of the 2010 until now. The first being-
October 14th, 2010-
Okay Guillen was actually traded in August of last year, but the trade was made official in October when Kansas City received Pucetas. In 42 games with the Giants in 2010, Guillen hit .266/.317/.375 with three home runs and 15 RBI. He was out of baseball in 2011 after having been granted free agency at the end of the season.
Pucetas appeared in 33 games for AAA Omaha and started 12 games. He finished the year with a 6-6 record and a 4.98 ERA. While not posting stellar numbers, Pucetas did improve his strikeout/walk ratio over 2010 and was able to pitch 106.2 innings for the Pacific Coast League Champion Storm Chasers.
Though Pucetas never appeared in a major league game this season it was more addition by subtraction as Kansas City was able to rid themselves of someone who had become somewhat of a clubhouse cancer.
November 10th, 2010-
At the time and still to some degree this trade was hard to swallow as DeJesus had been a fan favorite in Kansas City for most of his eight seasons with the major league club, however DeJesus regressed mightily in his first year with the A's, batting just .240/.323/.376 with 10 home runs and 46 RBI. This year he had a 0.6 WAR, the lowest of his major league career (not counting 12 games played with Kansas City as a rookie). With the Royals, DeJesus had been a career .289/.360/.427 batter.
Mazzaro was thought to be the key to the deal on the Kansas City side as the recently turned 25-year old had appeared in 41 career games with Oakland. He would spend most of the year with Omaha, but did appear in seven games with Kansas City. Unfortunately he will likely always be remembered most for his relief appearance on May 16th when he allowed 14 runs on 11 hits in just 2.1 innings during a 19-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians. However of his seven appearances he was decent in five of them. In his June 12th start against the Angels he went seven innings and allowed no runs five hits.
For the year he finished with a 1-1 record and 8.26 ERA in 28.1 innings, with a -0.7 WAR. Mazzaro would also start 22 games for Omaha and finish the year with a 7-2 record to go along with a 4.29 ERA.
Marks was intriguing, being a former third round draft pick in 2009, though he is 23-years old. A 6'3" lefty, Marks pitched at Wilmington in 2011, which is the High Class A affiliate of the Royals. He would throw in 28 games (22 starts) and finish the season with an 8-8 mark and a 3.98 ERA. His 144.2 innings were the most pitched by a Blue Rock this season. For a comparison, Everett Teaford pitched 144.1 at Wilmington as a 24-year old in 2008, finishing with a 8-6 record with a 3.78 ERA. Marks had a 2.86 walk-to-strikeout ratio this year, while Teaford's was 2.52. Though Marks may be an older prospect for his league, the path is certainly there for Marks to eventually reach the major leagues.
You could certainly look at this trade in multiple ways. The Royals gave up a leader in DeJesus, however without the trade, we likely would have never seen the dynamic trio of Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera, and Jeff Francoeur in 2011 (yes, I can't believe I just called that group a dynamic trio either). Moving DeJesus allowed the Royals to continue the progression to get younger and it also allowed them to pick up a couple arms as well. Mazzaro will likely never be more than fifth starter or bullpen arm, but if in a couple years we are talking about Justin Marks in the same way Kansas City fans discuss Everett Teaford, this certainly may turn into a winnable acquisition for Dayton Moore.
December 19th, 2010
This is arguably the most dissected and discussed trade in Royals history. It was without a doubt the biggest move made by the Royals since trading Carlos Beltran to the Houston Astros in 2004. With the evolution of sports talk radio and the internet, the Greinke trade tops any other move in the history of the organization.
While it was hard to fathom trading Greinke, in the end it was for the best. He had given up down the stretch in 2010 and forced Moore to trade him. Zack was no longer happy in Kansas City and didn't feel as if the club was progressing as quickly as he desired.
Though three of the pieces received in the trade logged time with the big league team in 2011, Alcides Escobar was the only player who'd become more than a footnote in the 2011 club annuals. Escobar manned the shortstop position 158 times (156 starts), and batted .254/.290/.343 with four home runs and 46 RBI. He contributed 2.0 WAR to the team during the year. He also stole 26 bases and had a range factor of 4.74 per 9 innings which was second only to J.J. Hardy of the Orioles.
Lorenzo Cain is likely the second most known player to Kansas City fans. Cain was part of the core group that lead Omaha to the AAA National Championship game, hitting .312/.380/.397 with 16 home runs 81 RBI while being a great defensive centerfielder. While Cain only got in six games with the Royals at the end of the season he did play in 43 games with the Brewers in 2010.
Jeremy Jeffress is certainly a wildcard in the trade, he was at the time and is even more so now. Known for his triple digit fastball, Jeffress struggled with command and was demoted from Kansas City to Omaha and eventually AA Northwest Arkansas were the team tried to turn Jeffress into a starter.
For the year Jeffress appeared in 14 games with the Royals and was 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA. He would strike out 13, while walking 11 hitters in 15.1 innings pitched. After going 2-3 with Omaha and seeing his ERA reach 7.12, he was sent to the Naturals were he appeared in nine games (eight starts), and was 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA. His strikeout rate fell sharply at AA, though he also decreased the amount of home runs allowed.
Jake Odorizzi was a very valuable piece included in the trade as he is likely the furthest away from the majors, but also has the tools to be the most valuable piece of the trade. The former first round draft choice of the Brewers in 2008, Odorizzi split his 2011 season between Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas, finishing 10-7 with a 3.73 ERA. He would go on to strike out 157 batters in 147 innings, while walking just 44.
Greinke rebounded from last season with Kansas City to post a 16-6 record, including a perfect 11-0 mark in Milwaukee home games. His 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings lead the National League this season. He struck out 201 batters in 171.2 innings. Though his 3.83 ERA was fourth among Milwaukee starters, he has formed quite a solid 1-2 punch with Yovani Gallardo. Greinke's xFIP was actually 2.56, which was better than his 2009 Cy Young season.
The other player the Royals gave up in the trade was shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. On the surface Betancourt's 13 home runs and 68 RBI look reasonable but it also comes with a .252/.271/.381 line. He struck out 63 times while walking just 16 times. His fielding percentage and range factor were both below the National League average. His 0.7 WAR wasn't even half of Escobar's.
Reading some of the Brewers blogs, it was amusing to find out that they had many of the same feelings about Betancourt that Kansas City fans put up with during his tenure at Kauffman Stadium. The complaints about his defense and his low walk rate were the two of the largest concerns.
On a selfish note I must say I chuckled in amusement when I saw Betancourt hit an inside the park home run against the Twins this summer at Miller Park, but each day I am much more happy to have Escobar in Kansas City over the likes of the Yuni-bomber.
Advantage - PUSH
It's hard to try and defend trading one of the best pitchers your organization has ever seen, but the potential is there for this trade to work out well for both sides. You must admit the Royals did make out much better than they did in the Beltran trade.
In swapping Betancourt for Escobar the Royals upgraded their defense for many years, and it should not be forgotten that as recently as the spring of 2010, Escobar was named the 12th best prospect in baseball as determined by Baseball America.
Cain has certainly shown that he is ready to receive a look at the major league level though he is currently blocked. If nothing else he is a solid fourth outfield option, who could potentially take over if one of the current Kansas City outfielders is to be traded in the future. Should the Royals move in a different direction, or another outfielder passes Cain in the chain, he also could be used as a nice addition to a trade.
While Jeffress is indeed the wildcard, it's never hard to become enchanted with someone who can throw over 100 mph. The more stable pitching prospect is Odorizzi. He has somewhat been compared to Greinke by some, but if Odorizzi can eventually develop into a solid #2 or #3 pitcher at the major league level then you certainly have to look back at this trade as being even value. Of course should he not pan out with the Royals, then you certainly can begin to look back at this trade negatively.
March 22, 2011-
Brett Carroll has the ironic distinction of never having appeared in a game for the Royals at either the major league or minor league level. After having been signed from the Florida Marlins last offseason as a free agent, Carroll was brought into camp to fight for either a reserve outfield spot with the Royals or certainly be able to provide depth in Omaha.
He would eventually play in two games for Milwaukee, while spending most his season with AAA Nashville. He would be released and signed with the Boston Red Sox, finishing out the season with AAA Pawtucket. In 117 minor league games, Carroll would bat .270 and have 16 home runs with 63 RBI's.
It's hard not to fault a move were the Royals brought in a veteran player for camp and likely sold him off for a positive return. Though the financials in these moves are often hard to find and the return is not much, anytime you can flip spare parts for cash then it is a solid move in my mind.
March 28th 2011-
At the time many questioned this move, but I liked it. Coming into the season the Royals found out Jason Kendall wasn't going to be to go and they were likely looking at using Brayan Pena and Lucas May at catcher. Neither brought a true veteran presence to the Royals.
Treanor would only bat .226/.351/.306 in his time with Kansas City, but certainly added to the early season dramatics as his walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the 13th inning sparked the Royals to a victory on April 3rd against the Angels.
Essentially the Royals received Treanor on a loan from the Rangers as he was traded back to the Rangers on August 31st. He provided stability at a time when the Royals needed someone to pair with Pena. When Salvador Perez eventually earned his ticket to Kansas City, Treanor was no longer needed and the Rangers re-acquired him .
May 8th, 2011-
Gregor Blanco had been acquired in 2010 in the trade with the Atlanta Braves that also brought left-handed reliever Tim Collins. He would bat just .196 in 23 games with the Storm Chasers before being traded to the Nationals were he finished the season with a .203 average and three home runs with AAA Syracuse. He would also drive in ten runs.
Advantage - Royals
Much like the Carroll trade, the Royals traded Blanco as he was being passed over by younger players in the Omaha outfield. Though I haven't been able to find out who or if the Royals actually received a player in return for Blanco, I look at it as addition by subtraction. By moving Blanco the Storm Chasers were able to free themselves up to allow another younger player to help the team throughout the season and into the playoffs.
May 26th, 2011-
Felipe Paulino went from being a journeyman pitcher to being a stable starting pitcher in the Kansas City rotation during 2011. He would finish the season having played 21 games for the Royals (20 starts) and compile a 4-6 record with a 4.11 ERA. He struck out nearly a batter an inning while leading the Royals starters with a 2.48 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Advantage - Royals
This move was a home run for the Royals as they gave up very little in acquiring someone who easily became one of Kansas City's better starting pitchers at times. At the age of 27, Paulino was a cheap and reliable pitcher who the Royals may look at bringing back for 2012.
June 1st, 2011-
Kansas City Royals trade Lucas May to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Andrea Pizziconi
Lucas May had come to the Royals during the summer in 2010 from the Dodgers organization and filled in quite nicely at Omaha and finished the season appearing in 12 game with the Royals at the end of the year. There was even a good chance he may have went north from spring training with the big league club if the Royals hadn't acquired Matt Treanor.
However May struggled mighty with Omaha in 2011 to the tune of a .176 batting average in 25 games. He was quickly losing playing time to Manuel Pina and falling down the catching chain in the organization at the time. He would finish out his 2011 campaign with AAA Reno.
The player Kansas City received for May, Andrea Pizziconi was more or less a lottery ticket from Arizona. The recently turned 20-year old Italian right-hander put up solid numbers at Low Class-A Yakima for the Diamondbacks in 2010, but struggled during his time with Burlington, the Rookie League affiliate for the Royals. In 16 games (two starts), Pizziconi was 1-2 with a 6.81 ERA. All of his numbers moved in a negative direction, though he can hang his hat on striking out more batters than he walked this season.
Advantage - PUSH
This move was trading organizational filler, though May at least can say he has had a previous stint at the major league level. Kansas City traded someone who no longer had a spot in the system for a teenager that they hoped they could eventually strike magic with.
July 20, 2011-
Wilson Betemit was a pleasant surprise ever since the Royals signed him in November 2009, however with the call-up of Mike Moustakas, there was no longer an every-day job for the veteran Betemit. In 40 games after the trade he would hit .292/.346/.525 for the Tigers with five home runs and 19 RBI.
Cruz is a 19-year old 5'11" left-handed pitcher who joined Class A's Kane County after the trade and would appea rin 11 games (one start), throwing 30 innings with a 1-0 record and 1.80 ERA. He would go on to strike out 39 batters while walking just 13. He had solid numbers overall in 2011 but improved them greatly in his time with the Royals. An advancement to Wilmington next year will likely be expected.
Rodriguez is a 22-year old cather who was an All-Star in the Florida State League and with his move to the organization he went to Wilmington were he batted .219/.247/.329 with a home run and eight driven in, playing 22 games. He's an older prospect and will likely be filler in the system.
Trading Betemit was ultimately a catch-22 scenario for the Royals. After this season Betemit will likely qualify as a Type B Free Agent, giving the Tigers a pick in the upcoming major league baseball draft. However if Betemit had stayed with the Royals he wouldn't have received nearly the playing time and would not have qualified for the extra draft pick.
In trading him they received an organizational catcher, while also receiving a young reliever who has the potential to eventually reach the major leagues one day. It's a tough trade to grade because of the lack of playing time Betemit would have received with the Royals, but ultimately the Tigers won this trade.
July 30th, 2011-
Going into the deadline I had come to the realization that the Royals would likely not being making a deal at the deadline, but I got a surprise one afternoon on twitter as I read that the Royals had sent Aviles to the Red Sox. I wasn't really expecting it. Aviles was a solid utility player for the Royals but had struggled with the team in 2011 before being demoted at one point to Omaha. After the trade he would hit .317/.340/.436 for Boston in 38 games, picking up two home runs and eight RBI.
As of June, the 23-year old Navarro had been ranked as high as fifth among Red Sox prospects according to Soxprospects.com, and though he played in six games with Kansas City, he spent the vast majority of his time in Omaha. In 25 games he batted .272/.317/.391 with two home runs and nine RBI.
Kendal Volz is an interesting prospect. Once highly regarded, he had injury issues that pushed him back to being a ninth round selection of Boston in 2009. He is a big 6'5" right-hander that pitches out of the bullpen and threw for both Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas after the trade. He was particularly good with the Blue Rocks, being 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in 11 innings over six games. He struck out seven while walking just one batter.
I like this trade for Kansas City as they receive a potential bullpen arm down the road and a player in Navarro who is just a phone call away from being in the majors. While there is no question he isn't Mike Moustakas, he could potentially be another Mike Aviles, and is also seven years younger. Keep in mind when Aviles was 23 he was still playing with Wilmington in Class A.
September 27th, 2011-
Kansas City Royals trade Kila Ka`aihue to the Oakland Athletics for Ethan Hollingsworth
The most recent trade the Royals made, the Royals and their fans had quite the love-hate relationship with Ka`aihue. Fans clamored for the better part of two and a half years for Ka`aihue to get his chance with the Royals and after eventually winning the job going into the most recent season, Ka`aihue struggled and was demoted to Omaha in favor of Eric Hosmer. Like many of the other players moved off the Omaha roster in deals, he simply no longer had a fit with the organization.
On September 27th, I wrote about the trade and what Hollingsworth brings to the table.
This is a classic Billy Beane move. He often plucks players who have lost their way with other ball clubs and tries to see if some of his "Moneyball Magic" can come to fruition. While Ka`aihue was seemingly no longer happy with the Royals and no longer had a spot on the team, it's sad to see a once heralded player turn from a mere non-prospect into somewhat of an uber-prospect and then turn ultimately back into a pumpkin, eventually being traded.
Overall I understand the rational for the majority of the moves and while I personally may not have agreed with all of them, I think the Royals did well with the positions they were in when the moves were made in 2011. The organization is building depth with a solid core currently in place. None of the moves made over the last year have had a negative impact to the point of making me any less excited for the future.