Less than twenty-four hours after I took a look at Jonathan Sanchez as a potential trade target the Royals acquired him for center fielder Melky Cabrera. In the comments section Slappy even speculated on a possible Cabrera for Sanchez swap. So without further ado let's jump right into this.
If you want to read my concerns with Sanchez please scroll down to the previous post. However, I want to be clear that just because I have concerns regarding Sanchez (especially the decrease in fastball velocity, which in my opinion has caused the enlargement of his other problems) I don't view this as a bad deal. The acquisition is high risk, high reward. If the Royals would have traded six years of Lorenzo Cain I'd likely be feeling much differently, however trading one year of Melky Cabrera for one year of Jonathan Sanchez feels like a win for both sides.
Of course, Melky is coming off the best season of is career. He posted 201 hits, 18 home runs, 87 rbis and a slash of .305/.339/.470. He was a part of one of the most productive outfields in baseball. With that being said Melky is also coming off what you would call a career year. Realistically, how many Royals fans can honestly say they expect similar results in 2012. The Royals are dealing Melky Cabrera at the top of his value, while the Giants are moving Sanchez while his value is likely at an all time low.
It is hard to not like this trade. Despite my concerns with Sanchez, he has shown at the Major League level that he is a mid rotation starter. He is going to be twenty-nine years old, and he boasts a career k-rate of 9.4. It is hard not to be optimistic regarding Sanchez's potential.
In many ways Sanchez is exactly what the Royals were looking for this off season. He requires a very small financial commitment, an estimated $5.2 million in his final year of arbitration. Also, considering the raise Melky was due in arbitration for 2012 this move only adds roughly $1 million to the Royals 2012 payroll.
Sanchez improves the current rotation and if he can reduce his walk rate back down to his career figure of 4.8 from last year's 5.9, he could drastically improve the front of the Royals' rotation.
The Royals' pitching staff will also receive the benefit of what I expect to be an extremely improved outfield defense. It is no secret that Cabrera isn't exactly a dynamo in terms of covering ground in center, but by all accounts Lorenzo Cain is. It seemed all season long reports came in from Omaha that Lorenzo Cain had made another highlight reel play.
The Royals' also will be receiving left handed pitching prospect Ryan Verdugo in the deal. Entering the season Verdugo ranked as the 25th best prospect in the Giants system as judged by Baseball America. Up to 2011, he had been used exclusively from the bullpen. In three seasons he had compiled a 13-1 record, and a 1.75 era. Not to mention 167 strikeouts to 59 walks in 113 innings.
In 2011, the Giants gave Verdugo a shot in Double-A Richmond's rotation. For the year he finished with an 8-6 record and a 4.35 era. His fip came in at just 4.07 thanks to a k-rate of 9.2, and a walk rate of 4.4. In some way he resembles Sanchez. He's a power lefty that racks up huge strikeout numbers, but struggles with command. At first glance he appears to be a "throw in", but with such a propensity for missing bats, I'm taking him very seriously as a left handed relief prospect.
The Royals signed Melky Cabrera last winter for just over $1 million. The move was criticized at the time and just a few days later it drew more criticism when the Royals announced the trade of Zack Greinke. Even after putting up a stellar first half, many Royals fans were infuriated when the Royals elected to hold on to Melky past the trade deadline.
The Royals made a fantastic bargain signing last winter. A year later the Royals needed rotation help and had outfield depth. They dealt from this depth and have clearly improve their rotation. They cashed in on Melky's career year and instead of flipping a guy after his value began to diminish they flipped him at his peak.
Good move for the Royals, let's not stop now.