The Royals have not been quiet about their desire to add starting pitching this off-season. Nor have they shied away from discussing the many prospects they have in the pipeline in order to acquire a pitcher.
Dayton Moore was able to accomplish what most thought improbable, he improved his starting rotation and dealt from the major league roster, freeing up a spot for one of the talented youngsters going forward. In addition to not trading from the pipeline of minor league talent that Kansas City is enjoying, he added to it.
Melky Cabrera is no longer a Kansas City Royal. After one short season with the club after being released by the Atlanta Braves, the Royals have chosen to trade Cabrera while his value is high and have gained the return of Jonathan Sanchez for the Major League rotation and Ryan Verdugo for the minor league system.
Melky’s stats last year as a Royal:
The goal for the Royals was to find a top of the rotation starter at an affordable price. Sounds easy enough, right? Dayton Moore has successfully added to his rotation depth, but what did the Royals get in return for an outfielder that seemed to have a solid bounce back year for the team?
Sanchez has been one of the harder pitchers to figure out, both for opposing hitters and his own coaches. A dominant pitcher with a live arm, his strikeout rates are consistently high over his six year career. However, so are his walk rates. While he keeps hitters guessing, there are times he has the same effect on his catcher. Our friends at MLB Trade Rumors had this to say about Sanchez in reaction to the trade:
Sanchez, 28, may have been a non-tender candidate for the Giants after a disappointing 2011 season that saw him walk 5.9 per nine innings and miss significant time with biceps tendinitis and a sprained ankle. The southpaw is tough to hit and has big-time strikeout numbers, but control has always been a problem. In Sanchez, Felipe Paulino, and Danny Duffy, Royals GM Dayton Moore has strong strikeout potential for three-fifths of his 2012 rotation. Sanchez projects to earn $5.2MM in 2012, after which he’ll be eligible for free agency. That he was traded for one year of Cabrera shows how much his trade value slipped during the ’11 season. Sanchez was set to battleBarry Zito for the Giants’ fifth starter job next year.
Read Tim Dierkes full take on the trade by clicking here.
On July 10, 2009, Sanchez showed just how dominant he can be by crafting a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. One look at his line from that day and “dominant” is the only way to describe it:
|Jonathan Sanchez, W (3-8)||9||0||0||0||0||11||0||4.69||28||110||77||44||12||21||6||11||1||0||98||0.220||0.30||4.6|
If new pitching coach Dave Eiland can help get the six-foot tall lefty to harness his control, the Royals have found the ace of their staff for 2012. If not, the Royals may be found looking at the trade deadline to bolster their staff a bit, should they find themselves in contention in 2012.
Jonathan Sanchez Career Statistics:
|162 Game Avg.||9||11||4.26||41||27||3||0||0||165||141||84||78||17||88||3||171||97||1.388||4.8||9.4||1.96|
Of course, the dealing of Cabrera also leaves the middle of the outfield open for 2012, paving the way for prospect Lorenzo Cain to join the team fresh from Spring Training.
Cain, a product of the trade of Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers, has had some minor success at the major league level in limited action for the Brewers in 2010. He spent most of 2011 at AAA Omaha for the Royals and showed that he can hit and field his position rather well. His strikeout rate is high, but projecting him to hit either second in front of Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer or sixth behind them and Mike Moustakas could be a safe gamble.
The Royals will not live or die with the success of Cain. His bat will be a benefit to the ball club if they need it. They will, however, need production from Jonathan Sanchez if 2012 is the turning point of this team’s path.
No one knows if Moore is done dealing this off-season, but it appears he got his man early on and next year will determine how solid of a move it was.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
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