Trading season seems to be bearing down upon us now as the Royals have made news several times in the last few days on the subject. The Royals who find themselves in the cellar of the AL Central have several players that could be intriguing to contending teams, but unless they shop Joakim Soria or Billy Butler really lack the piece that would have teams salivating.
Nonetheless the rumors began on Friday when we heard that the Royals are seeking Major League pitching for Jeff Francoeur. Francoeur then countered the rumor by stating:
“At some point, we’ll talk to Dayton about the option. Maybe get a two or three-year deal or something. I’ve told Dayton that I like it here. I’d love to stay here."
Francoeur for the season has .264/.309/.438 which is right in line with his career line of .267/.310/.426. However, due to offense taking such a dive this season his OPS+ is a very respectable 108, which compared to his career OPS+ of 93 is a definite improvement.
Also, Francoeur has upped his steal count from his previous career high to 15. Honestly steals are pretty overrated but some teams, like the Royals, feel they are much more important than they truly are. Don't forget that he has been great defensively with one of the top arms in the game and leadership qualities that Dayton Moore wants around his young team.
Jeff Francoeur could have some appeal as a platoon rightfielder for a contending team, but I can't see a contending team acquiring him with the idea of playing him everyday. He has value, but if Major League ready starting pitching is what the Royals want they will probably come up empty handed or worse wind up with a Sean O'Sullivan/Vin Mazzaro type.
Keep in mind that Jeff Francoeur has already been trading twice. Once for Ryan Church. Once for Joaquin Arias. It is hard to imagine him netting much more value this go around despite all of his improvement. (Yes I do believe he has improved, just not much.)
Today rumors surfaced that the Brewers and Royals have discussed trading Wilson Betemit. I imagine Betemit could be an extremely appealing bench target for contenders given his ability to play on the corners, his combination of decent power with good on base skills, and his extremely friendly contract.
I imagine there will be more teams other than the Brewers that have discussions for Betemit, however since we don't have specifics I'll simply focus on Milwaukee who seems to really be selling out for 2011. Because Milwaukee has such a poor and empty farm system the Royals would probably be looking at acquiring one of the better prospects in their system.
Of course there is another outfielder that Kansas City possesses on a very team friendly deal that is playing extremely well this season and his name is Melky Cabrerra. The Melkman is having a career year with the bat, can play every outfield position is on a very team friendly contract and is under team control next season as well.
So far this season Melky has posted a career high OPS+ of 119. His previous high was 95. He has also posted a career high WAR of 3.0 compared to his former high of 1.7. These are great numbers, so good in fact that it is hard to imagine the Royals trading him for a fair return.
I don't think teams will be willing to pay him for what he has done this season, because teams will point to 6 other seasons worth of data that show a different story. The Royals will pitch this season and his two years worth of control and in the end the two sides may not be able to put a value on Cabrerra that both teams consider to be fair.
If the Royals can convince teams to pay for Cabrerra like a cheap 3 WAR player then they should without a doubt sell high and consider the signing a huge success. Cash the chips, pat themselves on the back, and give the centerfield job to Cain.
If the Royals can't sell high and Cabrerra is only worth a middling prospect, then the Royals should hang on. Move Francoeur, Shift Cabrerra to a corner, let Cain go to work in center.
The Royals have enough pieces that this could be an extremely busy deadline. However, Moore's quotations in the KC Star indicate that they could also stand pat. Obviously trades are excited, they show an attempt to get better, and give us bloggers something to talk about. But if the Royals do hang on to their pieces it won't necessarily be a bad thing, just the boring thing.