Royals Acquire Decent Platoon Outfielder, Pay Real Price

Not only are the Royals not sellers, they’ve actually made a prospect-for-veteran swap on deadline day. To help shore up their right field situation, they sent RHP Kyle Smith to the Astros in exchange for outfielder Justin Maxwell.

Maxwell is a solid role player, athletic enough to play all three outfield spots and with enough ability to provide some offensive value. In 763 big league plate appearances, he’s posted a .319 wOBA/97 wRC+, and UZR/DRS have liked his defensive contributions as well. Add it all up, and he’s racked up +3.8 WAR in just over a full season’s worth of playing time.

However, that’s a very defense-heavy number, and we’re dealing with 1,500 innings of outfield play from a 29-year-old. You have to regress his expected defensive contributions a good deal, which is why both ZIPS and Steamer forecast him to be roughly an average defender over the rest of the season. It doesn’t kill Maxwell’s value entirely, but he’s very unlikely to continue to produce at a +3 WAR per season pace.

Still, Maxwell definitely has his uses. He’s mashed left-handers to this point in his career, he’s a good baserunner, and as part of a platoon with David Lough, the Royals could actually get some real production in right field over the rest of the season. He’s probably not an everyday guy, but there’s skills here, and if used correctly, he can help the Royals.

Unfortunately, these are the kinds of pieces you like to add for little cost. Casper Wells, for instance, is a very similar player, and he was passed around on waivers for the first few months of the season. The Nationals acquired Scott Hairston for low-level pitching prospect Ivan Pineyro. The Indians signed Ryan Raburn to a minor league contract over the winter. Lefty mashing OFs aren’t that hard to find, nor are they usually all that expensive.

However, to get Maxwell, the Royals gave up Kyle Smith, who Marc Hulet rated as their #10 prospect heading into the season. Smith has been excellent in high-A Wilmington this year, and is probably not far away from being ready for Double-A. He’s undersized, but the stuff and the results are there, and the Astros are clearly not shy about taking chances on short dudes who can play.

Smith isn’t any kind of elite prospect and might turn out to be nothing in the long run, but this seems like another example of the Royals paying an above market cost for a useful player that won’t actually help them enough for his presence to matter much. With or without Maxwell, the Royals aren’t going to the postseason this year, so at best, he pushes them a little closer to .500. Meanwhile, similar players are going to be outrighted off 40-man rosters this winter, and so while Maxwell is under team control for several more years, the future value he will provide could have been replicated without actually giving up a prospect at the deadline.

It’s not a backbreaker, and perhaps Maxwell will turn into more of a regular contributor than the short half of a job share, but this still seems like a bit of an odd maneuver for the Royals. This is the kind of trade that a contender makes to get their roster ready for postseason play. The Royals would like to be the team making those kinds of moves, but making those kinds of moves doesn’t make you a contender.

We hoped you liked reading Royals Acquire Decent Platoon Outfielder, Pay Real Price by Dave Cameron!

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Professor Ross Eforp
Member
Professor Ross Eforp

Honestly, the Royals, Phillies, and Mariners needed to fire their general managers about a month ago in preparation for the trade deadline.

Trading Ervin Santana at this point would have been a wonderful bit of arbitrage. He has been legitimately very good this year.

Raidas77
Guest
Raidas77

Couldn’t agree more, Professor. These GMs did their franchises a huge disservice today.

As an Astros fan living in Seattle, I feel for fans of the local Mariners, who I support when not playing Houston.

With such low supply on the market, not moving Ibanez, Morales and Iwakuma stinks of JackZ trying to keep his job. They could have gotten some serious talent back to help them down the road, but they are in a futile drive to finish 81-81.

Professor Ross Eforp
Member
Professor Ross Eforp

Morales and Ibanez are good bats. Moving Ibanez would have been a great piece of arbitrage.

C
Guest
C

The Mariners are going to re-sign Morales, who is considerably better than whatever mid-level prospect they would get for Morales. Ibanez is 41 and I’m just not sure anyone really wanted to pay anything worthwhile for a 41 year old so why bother? If you can’t replace the production in say 3 years you’re getting out of that player now why bother trading them? They can give Morales a qualifying offer, which he probably takes, and if he doesn’t they get a 1st round pick out of it, which is probably as good or better than what they’d get for a solid hitter who can’t play defense. I think you can make a case for Ibanez, but nobody’s going to give you anyone that they think is going to be a solid major leaguer for him, so why tell the fan base the season is over again over that?

Balthazar
Guest
Balthazar

The idea that “the Mariners done bad” doing naught is predicated on the idea that the org could have gotten anything back in making a deal, let alone anything of real use.

Morales is good, but he’s got two months left and buyers would be bidding a DH price for him (and then playing him in the field). That isn’t even as good as a high sandwich pick, which is the minimum the Ms will have by keeping him. But moreover, Morales bat matters more to Seattle’s offense next year than anyone they could have acquired; seriously, does anyone think they could have dealt him for anyone even as good as he will be next year on a one-year if not more? No way. _Keeping_ Morales was the smart move.

Ibanez would have brought back a Grade C prospect, as a terrible fielder who had a highly unusual two months at the plate for a guy his age, with two months on his contract. Raul is, however, very popular with the fanbase, and the team is winning a bit now, and attendance is up. Having a semi-winning team on the field with a semi-goodtime vibe for the rest of 2012 goes some much needed way to repairing the org’s relationship with said fanbase. And that is far more valuable at this point than a Grade C prospect. Sure, if somebody offered something of real value for him he should go. Obviously, and appropriately, that didn’t happen.

Mike Morse could be . . .—*hahaha* I just realized I was talking about _Mike Morse_ like this is a) a baseball player who b) will be on the field much or at all during the rest of this year (pick your reason). Mike Morse has so little value it’s hard to see more than 2-3 teams who would take him for free.

Oliver Perez does have real value. I’m sure there were inquiries, and likely for Charlie Furbush also. The Ms bullpen has been more than shaky, and pulling either guy out might very well blow the thing up, tanking the rest of the season and that goodtime vibe and attendant considerations just mentioned. One would want something nice and shiny for that kind of potential cost. Of course all the acquierers wanted to send a Grade D prospect and pool money I’m guessing.

How is it again that Seattle “done bad” by not doing other orgs and big time favors for nuthin’ much? What is really said as far as I can tell is “Jack Zd didn’t work any major mojo for a huge package that he coulda/shoulda been able to make magically appear, and therefore . . . .” Show me he had a deal on the table he declined, and there’s a case. If not, not.

Banknotes Harper
Guest
Banknotes Harper

Leave the arbitrage to the experts, taint breath.

Professor Ross Eforp
Member
Professor Ross Eforp

I’m most familiar with the Indians. They acquired Corey Kluber for Jake Westbrook, who was pitching to a WAR of 0.5 in over 120 innings.

They acquired Zach McCallister for Austin Kearns, who went to New York to play 4th OF.

They acquired Asdrubal Cabrera for 1/2 of a freakin’ 1B platoon (and acquired Choo from the other 1/2).

These were all relatively minor moves at the time (though Cabrera and Choo were considered better players). If you want to argue that the Mariners will be happy to pay Morales $14MM next year, then that’s fine. I bet nobody else is going to pay him that, so they likely could have signed him to that contract without penalty, anyways.

C
Guest
C

Kearns was -.8 WAR for the Indians, the Mariners have 5 players worse than -.5 WAR. If the Mariners could have gotten a decent prospect for Montero, Triunfel, Ryan, Ackley, or Chavez then that would be a comparable trade. Morales is worth 1.5 WAR and the Mariners plan to re-sign him, considerably greater cost there. All you’ve illustrated is that the Indians pulled off a couple of brilliant trades in which they gave up pretty much nothing and got something, yes, if the Mariners could flip shit for a good player down the road obviously they would want to do that. But a) nobody really knows who will be good down the road and b) that requires some considerable incompetence from the other GM. The Mariners gave away Cabrera and Choo for no apparent logical reason, those were coups for the Indians, be happy you made those trades certainly, but they have nothing to do with the Mariners present situation. I’m sure if Zduriencek could have traded garbage for something he would, Morales isn’t garbage, in spite of being 41 and incapable of playing defense Ibanez isn’t really either. You would have them send a bad message to their fan base and make themselves worse next year on a gamble that they might acquire a piece that will be useful in 3 years, IF they’re lucky. That’s really not a very good move.

Furthermore, if the Mariners want to re-sign Morales and the team they trade him to DOES offer him a qualifying offer, a) he’s going to be less likely to come back to Seattle because they traded him and b) signing him now comes at the cost of a draft pick that they would have retained by not trading him, while not signing him now comes at no gain rather than the gain of a sandwich pick. That would be an awful move, a good college player picked in the first round can be expected to contribute in the same timeframe it took Corey Kluber to contribute, they’d have to be crazy to do that.

Professor Ross Eforp
Member
Professor Ross Eforp

A player has to be with a team for an entire season for a qualifying offer to garner compensation, so that is not a concern if Morales is traded.

To quote Billy Beane, you either have something special or you are building something special. The Mariners are holding on to the bitter end for no good reason.

RS
Guest
RS

Hmmm. How can you support the Mariners when they are division rivals of Houston? Every time they win they hurt Houston. Kinda kooky.

Raidas77
Guest
Raidas77

The whole Astros to the AL West is still kind of surreal. I don’t really have any feelings toward these teams yet. Still dislike the NL Central teams very much.

Doug Lampert
Guest
Doug Lampert

Nah, teams in the same division are only neccessarily rivals if both teams are in the running in the same year.

I root RedSox, but have no problems with the Bluejays or the Orioles, and won’t till they are a serious threat for the division on a year when the RedSox have a shot. And then the next year I won’t care about them again, they play the Yankees as often as they do the Redsox after all, so I’m rooting FOR them 18 times a year and AGAINST them 18 times a year. Heck, I couldn’t even bring myself to root against the Rays in their recent series with the Yankees even though the Rays are clearly the bigger threat this year.

My wife is a fanatic Cardinals fan, but she actually also likes the Cubs, I assume this would change if she saw them as a serious long term threat. But the teams she actively roots against (Braves and Mets) are both in the NL East.

Billy
Guest
Billy

Ya know, we blame these GMs for making moves (or not making them) in order to keep their jobs. Shouldn’t we be blaming stupid ownership that is dumb enough to fall for this and would fire said GMs if they actually were doing intelligent things to help the team win in the future?