Catching depth is hard to come by. That needs to be said from the outset for anyone scratching their heads wondering why the Kansas City Royals would give up anything for a back-up catcher from the Houston Astros of all teams, especially one with back problems. After all, the numbers for Humberto Quintero are not inspiring.
A closer look reveals that Quintero is among the worst hitters in baseball. Last year, he hit .240 with 2 home runs and 25 RBI. That was his best batting average since 2006. Enough said there. However, the Royals gave up Kevin Chapman for Quintero's defense. How much that's worth is, well, very difficult to figure out, to be honest.
Baseball Nation's Jeff Sullivan takes a closer look and writes, "Obviously, it's defense. Last summer, Mike Fast studied the effect of pitch-framing, and Quintero scored well. His receiving was found to save about five runs per full season over the average backstop. Beyond that, last fall, Bojan Koprivica studied the effect of pitch-blocking. Quintero scored very well. In fact, he finished first, as the best pitch-blocker in baseball. That's another five or six runs per full season over the average backstop."
When I first read of this move on my phone and saw the name Kevin Chapman, I was shocked. Kansas City seemed pretty high on the fourth-round selection in 2010 out of the University of Florida, and with good reason. Chapman had struck out 90 batters in 62 inning pitched during his two minor league seasons, ending last year with AA Northwest Arkansas.
Though Chapman has control issues at times, he showed the ability thus far of being an eventual quality left-handed set-up man at the major league level.
The Royals didn't pick up Quintero with the intentions of him hitting well, because you he won't. The 32-year old is instead known for his defense, which includes a career of throwing out 32% of would be base stealers. The league average over his nine big league seasons is 28%.
Quintero has played in 366 games, mostly with the Houston Astros. He was with the San Diego Padres in 2003 and '04, before being traded to the Astros for pitcher Tim Redding.
He was brought in to give a veteran presence behind the plate and do his job of blocking balls in the dirt while helping call a solid game. This is something he has been known to do well.
The move for Bourgeois strikes me as odd as the Royals already had Mitch Maier and Jarrod Dyson in the outfield. The 30-year old was a former second round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2000 and has bounced around with several organizations, seeing time at the major league level with the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers for one season each, before taking part in 162 games over the last two season with the Astros.
Bourgeois's career season was last year when he batted .294/.323/.357 with a home run and 16 RBI in 93 games. He also stole 31 bases in 37 attempts while patrolling centerfield for Houston.
This reminds me a lot of one of Dayton Moore's first trades, sending reliever J.P. Howell to the Tampa Bay Rays for Joey Gathright. Gathright was the speedster while Howell was a young reliever. That trade didn't work out so well for Kansas City in retrospect.
What was the need for Bourgeois, and importantly why did the Royals insist on bringing him in, if they had to include Chapman to get him? One would think the Royals could have received Quintero for mostly money or a non-prospect, much like when the Royals picked up Matt Treanor from the Rangers at the end of spring training last season.
Obviously this was a depth move, but at what cost? Chapman seemed like a lot to give up, which leaves me nervous to know who the player to be named later may be.
We'll have more on this trade in coming days, but make sure to head on over to Royals Review for more reaction to the latest move.