The Alberto Callaspo Trade: Royals Perspective

It has been reported that Alberto Callaspo of the Royals has been traded to the Angels for pitchers Sean O’Sullivan and Will Smith. This could be the first of several trades the Royals make this year.

What the Royals lose in the trade:

The Royals traded off their starting third baseman this season since Alex Gordon was sent to the AAA team in Omaha to begin a move to the outfield. Callaspo has been hitting .275/.308/.410 with a wOBA of 0.312 this season. These numbers are similar to his career numbers of .283/.333/.406 wOBA of 0.323 making him an average to below average major league hitter over his career.

His defensive stats are better at his current position, 3rd base, compared to when he played 2nd base. His lifetime UZR/150 in 216 games at second base is -6.7, but has a 9.4 UZR/150 at third base in 111 games. Having seen most of the Royals games this year, Callaspo has looked smoother at third base vice second base.

The Royals will probably fill the void at third base with Wilson Betemit. I am sure that some people will be calling for Alex Gordon to move back to third. Alex and the team are happy with his move to the outfield. We are dealing with the Royals, so anything can happen, but I don’t see him moving back.

Wilson Betemit will be a stop gap at third base until prospect Mike Moustakas makes it to the majors. Betemit’s lifetime batting line of .263/.329/.444 is comparable to Callaspo’s line, but with a little more power. His defense though is a little worse with a -10.7 UZR/150 in 250 games at third base.

What the Royals get in the trade:

The Royals receive some much need needed pitching help. Currently two starters for the Royals are on the DL, Gil Meche and Luke Hochevar, with another, Anthony Lerew, rumored to be headed to the DL also. The Royals minors are loaded with some pitching talent, but all of it is in AA and lower.

Neither player gained is considered to be a top Angel prospect. Sullivan (age 21) has had a K/9 of 4.9 and BB/9 of 2.8 in 17 major league games. In the minors he averaged 6.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. Smith (age 20) has average 7.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 while in the minors. Both were pitching for the Angels AAA team at the time of the trade. Smith began the season at high A and has been promoted to the AAA team.

Neither pitcher seems ready to make an immediate impact on the major league team, but they may be called to help because of the injuries to the Royals starters. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sullivan pitch this weekend. They will allow the Royals highly touted prospects to stay in the minors and progress to the majors without a jumping a level.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Ben F
13 years ago

Agreed. Callaspo wasn’t going to be in the long-term plans, so a young lefty prospect plus O’Sully–who has probably topped out but might be a #4/#5 with a little more seasoning–seems like an appropriate trade. I think the question will be whether the Royals sold low on Callaspo – is he the 0.320 wOBA hitter that you mentioned, or can he get back to his 2009 form where he was a much more patient, consistently hitter?