For much of the 2011 season, "Free-Lo" was a theme commonly seen on twitter among Kansas City Royals fans on the internet. This of course was in reference to centerfield prospect Lorenzo Cain who was playing well at AAA Omaha, but couldn't turn that into a call-up with Kansas City (though he was called up briefly after AAA post season). Many fans were begging for the Royals to trade Melky Cabrera at the summer deadline before he turned back into a pumpkin and his value decreased (the timing of the David DeJesus injury in 2010, anyone?).
Justin Bopp of MLB Daily Dish agrees with the assessment that Cain is the winner overall in this trade as it clears the way for the expected defensive upgrade in centerfield with the play of Cain. Let us not forget that Cain has respectable numbers in 169 at-bats at the major league level, hitting .302/.343/.402 during his brief time.
Meanwhile, McCovey Chronicles wasn't enamored with the long-term future of Jonathan Sanchez, though they do mention Ryan Verdugo is an interesting prospect. When I think of the phrase interesting prospects, they aren't going to be a top flight addition but they are a name to file away for a few years and not to be too surprised should they eventually show up on your major league roster. In a lot of ways, Verdugo is like the Royals acquisition of Justin Marks last season. Both are left-handers and Verdugo is one year older and also one level higher than Marks. Verdugo has been assigned to Omaha and you can view highlights of him here.
To place this trade in perspective, let's look at the DeJesus trade against the trade the Royals made today. In Vin Mazzaro, the Royals acquired a 24-year old right-hander who was 10-17 for Oakland with a 4.72 ERA. His WHIP was 1.57 and he had a career 1.55 strikeout-to-walk ratio at the major league level.
Marks was 6-14 in the Athletics' farm system, with 136 strikeouts in 129.1 innings pitched. He had walked 53 batters. This year at Wilmington, he was 8-8 with a 3.98 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He struck out 140, while walking 49 in 144.2 innings pitched during 2010.
In Sanchez, the Royals pick up a soon-to-be 29-year old left-hander who is 38-46 in his career with a 4.26 ERA. His career WHIP is 1.39, and Sanchez has a 1.96 career strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Ryan Verdugo is a 6'0" 24-year old lefty who just finished his first pro season as a starter, going 8-6 with AA Richmond. In 130.1 innings pitched he struck out 133 while walking 63. His WHIP was 1.37. In four minor league season, the LSU product is 21-7 with a 3.14 ERA in 243.1 innings pitched. He has an impressive 2.46 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a career 1.26 WHIP.
On the surface Kansas City made out well. Not only did the team free up a spot for Lorenzo Cain while improving the current rotation, but the Royals also made out much better than the return they received for David DeJesus.