Friday, January 3, 2014

Sign and Trade for Kendrys Morales?

MLB Network's Jim Duquette provided the Royals with these two tweets yesterday afternoon. At this point I have a hard time believe that all of the Billy Butler smoke is only that. We've heard so many variations of the sign X player to DH and trade Billy Butler rumor that I have a hard time doubting this sort of thing is actually being discussed.

I theorized as to why the Royals might be so eager to shop Billy Butler here and most if not all of these points remain true today. Whether or not a trade and signing would improve the ball club obviously hinges on the return that Bill Butler could bring in a trade. Personally, I don't see the return being enough to warrant such a move.

Also. worth consideration in these rumors is that they often involve signing a player who has a draft pick attached. Looking at the big picture, in order for the Royals to truly come out ahead in a Butler trade and FA signing, the return for Butler would both have to be more valuable than a 1st round pick while also accommodating for the difference between production from Butler and the FA signing. A return this strong is hard to envision.

Here is a look at how Butler and Morales compare in a few different projections systems:

  • Steamer
    • Butler: .293/.373/.467 with a .363 wOBA worth 2.4 WAR
    • Morales: .275/.334/.467 with a .346 wOBA worth 1.6 WAR
  • Oliver
    • Butler: .288/.368/.419 with a .345 wOBA worth 1.1 WAR
    • Morales: .278/.338/.461 with a .346 wOBA worth 1.6 WAR
  • The Spitter (my own creation)
    • Butler: .301/.377.455 with a .364 wOBA worth 2.7 WAR
    • Morales: .293/.344/.481 with a .354 wOBA worth 2.2 WAR
  • Averages of the above projections
    • Butler: .294/.373/.447 with a .357 wOBA worth 2.1 WAR
    • Morales: .282/.339/.470 with a .349 wOBA worth 1.8 WAR
Basically, on average Butler is slightly more valuable as a designated hitter than Kendrys Morales. Again the complication with this deal is that the Royals need to obtain enough value for Butler to account for the loss of a 1st round pick that would come with a Morales signing. Of course, no team is going to overspend for Butler to compensate the Royals for a draft pick that they would lose in a separate transaction. This creates a problem for Kansas City, who rightly should view these two moves as one in the same.

One way that the problem of a draft pick could be defeated would be a sign and trade with Seattle. The Mariners have long had interest in Billy Butler and even this offseason have been rumored to have kicked the tires on Bill the Thrill. If the Mariners signed Morales and then flipped him to Kansas City the Mariners could grab the DH they've long sought, while the Royals could bring in Morales without losing a draft pick. Of course, in order for this to make sense for Kansas City, another piece would also have to go to the Royals to make this work.

If it is true that Kansas City is seeking pitching in return for Butler, then we would have to assume that in order for this deal to make sense, Seattle would sign Morales and then trade him to Kansas City with a Major League ready starter for Billy Butler. A few names that could fit this mold would be Brandon Maurer, Erasmo Ramirez, or James Paxton. We know the Royals were hot and heavy on Paxton a year ago, but would they be able to return him in this sort of deal?

Complicating matters even further, the Mariners should also view this deal in the sense that they would be losing their right to a 1st round pick that could have been gained through compensation. Perhaps, the Mariners with their eyes set on 2014 would ignore this detail, but I have to think it would hurt the potential return that Kansas City could get for Butler.

Personally, I think this sort of route would be a creative solution by both the Mariners and Royals. I wouldn't consider this sort of move the Royals had to lose a draft pick. However, if the Royals can move Butler as they obviously are inclined to do, I'd prefer it to come in a situation like this. If a Morales plus Paxton or Ramirez deal was worked out, I think it is the kind of deal that would make sense for Kansas City. Ultimately, if none of this comes to fruition, the Royals will do just fine with Butler at DH.


  1. This is ridiculous. Why would the Mariners do something this stupid? Why not just sign Morales to DH if they were going to do this? He's a slightly less productive hitter than Butler and will cost more, but it makes zero sense for them to sign someone, then trade him away for the right to have a DH AND lose a first round draft pick AND trade away a solid pitching prospect on top of that?...I think this deal would be rejected by a rudimentary video game commisioner.

  2. The point of the post was more to illustrate what it would take for this to make sense for Kansas City and in doing so also emphasize why this would be less than ideal for Seattle. I don't think this would make sense at all for Seattle, but their front office also hasn't had glowing reviews lately.