Today we learned that according to Bill James defensive model Yuniesky Betancourt was worth -21 runs on the diamond (this is a defense only figure). Today we also learned that the first acquisition of the offseason is another former top shortstop prospect: Joaquin Arias. Arias is known by many in the baseball community as the guy the Texas Rangers chose over Robinson Cano as the player to be named in the Alex Rodriguez trade. Now Arias is a defensively challenged low on base shortstop. Sound familiar?
I wouldn't be opposed with the waiver claim if it were evidence that the Royals are seeking a possible replacement to Yuniesky Betancourt this season. However, this claim is probably more for depth and with the Royals viewing Arias as a guy that could fill in as the utility infielder this season with the "capability" of playing shortstop. The Royals will be able to pay Arias the league minimum in 2011 and he is not yet arbitration eligible.
Here is the issue that I have with this trade: there are only 40 spots on the 40 man roster. I know this seems like a pretty simple concept. But I am wondering just how many guys like Arias will be occupying a spot come Rule 5 draft day when the Royals need to be protecting minor leaguers that could potentially be impact players in just a couple of seasons. The Royals cannot afford to waste a single spot on the 40 man this offseason, because every spot will be essential in insuring that this organization won't one day look at the television to see Everett Teaford coming into pitch in the playoffs or Paulo Orlando stealing a crucial base in late September.
As of now I'm fine with the Arias claim. But if he steals the spot of a deserving prospect and that prospect is lost in the Rule 5, I will be far from okay with it. There is the possibility that the Royals will later pass Arias through waivers themselves in an attempt to keep him in the organization as an insurance policy, because even with Bianchi coming back from injury. The Royals still need depth in the upper levels at shortstop and Bianchi still needs minor league seasoning. But paying a guy six digits to play in Omaha isn't my favorite thing either.