Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Would Royals deal pitcher for Escobar?

Let me start off by saying this is pure speculation on my part. But, hey, I don't do a lot of speculating on this blog so what's it gonna hurt to throw this one out there?

Actually, this is not something I just pulled out of my butt. It's a rather intriguing thought I ran across this morning when woke up and received news that the Atlanta Braves were getting close to an agreement to re-acquire all-star shortstop Rafael Furcal, who spend six years of his career in Hotlanta. The deal is apparently for three years, and I would imagine there's an option for a fourth year in there somewhere as well - since he's been demanding four years. By the way, the Royals appear out of the running for Furcal as the bidding war has sent the money through the roof.

According to sources, the Braves are planning to sign Furcal and then immediately attempt to swing Yunel Escobar for an "elite-level starting pitcher." Now, there are lots of "elite-level starting pitchers" around baseball at this time, but could that involve either Gil Meche or Zack Greinke of the Royals? Some will speculate this means the Braves will work something out for Jake Peavy. The problem is Escobar was ALREADY offered to the Padres in the Peavy deal. We know that. The problem with that trade came down to a disagreement over remaining prospects the Braves would have included in the deal. Believe me, they were WAAAAY off in that aspect.

The Royals have already been linked to the Braves in a Greinke-for-Francoeur deal which, I might add, was BOGUS. I do believe the two clubs casually discussed names, but I think it was more Greinke for Escobar. My belief is that Atlanta told the Royals "we'll keep you in mind, but we're going to see what comes of this Peavy deal first" and went on their way. Now that it appears Peavy won't be traded, the Braves may be making sense of the Royals again.

Greinke has shown flashes of becoming a front-line starter for years to come, and has yet to get a multi-year extention from Kansas City. To me, I've been a little leery that they will do so. They have had more pressing issues (shortstop, bullpen) to deal with since he's locked up through 2009. I still think they are holding out on an extention in case they need to trade him for a piece to the puzzle. It makes sense. It keeps his smallish contract appealing to other clubs who may be interested in a trade.

Another option, perhaps a more perfect situation, is that they trade Gil Meche - which would free up quite a bit of money off the books - and use the cap space to sign Greinke long-term. In this instance Kansas City would get its shortstop of the future, and get to keep a potential all-star in Greinke who, by the way, is much younger than Meche.

Of course, other things would hinge on this deal getting done. The first question is would the Braves even want Gil Meche? Indications point to yes. He's looked like a different pitcher since coming to Kansas City. He has also proved to be worth every penny of the $55M deal he signed as a free agent. Second, could the Braves afford Meche's contract? Uh, YES! Peavy makes much, much more. Finally, who would the Royals use to fill the void in the rotation that Meche would leave. My answer: Daniel Cabrera.

Cabrera, 28, was non-tendered by Baltimore on Friday and has been garnering interest from 12-14 teams since his release, according to his agents. He was linked to the Pirates on Monday, but one would have to assume the Royals have at least done their homework and checked in on him. The youngster actually reminds me some of Meche in his pre-Kansas City days.

A guy that has never reached his projected "ceiling", Cabrera still makes scouts salivate over what he could become with the right guy in his ear. At 6-foot-7 he has the size and pitchability that the Royals crave. He used to be a flamethrower, but for some reason last year he dropped a few MPH on his fastball which resulted in low strikeout numbers. That's another thing, he has never struck out a great deal of hitters. He averages about one every 2-3 innings, depending on the year.

I think Bob McClure is the guy who could turn him around, alas Meche. Obviously, he could be had for much less than $55M too. Last year he earned $4M. That's petty in todays market.

Look, Dayton Moore doesn't want to part with Meche OR Greinke. He's not going to trade one of those guys for just anyone. But for Yunel Escobar, I think he would. He should. The Royals are stocked with pitching at the minor league levels and Daniel Cortes isn't too far off. Granted, he isn't Gil Meche by any means, but he could be. I think this team could find ways to make due without him. Improving the offense would certainly help with that.


Cody Thorn said...

gotta love a post that has the word pull and butt in the same sentence lol

Levi "Tug" Payton said...

Lol. Thought you might like that.