Within the past hour the Royals pulled off a big trade that will send young pitching prospect Dan Cortes and A-level minor league pitcher Derrick Saito to Seattle for shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.
It has long been speculated that Dayton Moore has coveted Betancourt, ever since there were rumors a couple of years ago that the Mariners requested Billy Butler as compensation for Betancourt. Well, the Royals got to keep Butler and now Moore has his man.
Betancourt, who is batting .250 with two homers and 22 RBI this season, is currently rehabbing from an injury at Triple-A Tacoma. The Royals will continue his rehab assignment at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, in Springdale. Cortes, who was the Royals minor league pitcher of the year last season has struggled mightily with his control this year despite going 6-6 with a 3.92 ERA.
I personally witnessed Cortes' last outing at home (he was scheduled to pitch again tonight against San Antonio) and he was very, very wild. He's having lots of trouble controlling his 95-96 mph fastball, and thus has walked nearly as many as he has struck out this year - and he's having trouble striking out guys as well.
I came away from the outing with the sense that the Royals really needed to trade Cortes now while he still has some value. I know that sounds crazy when you look at his ERA and consider how hard he throws, but if you watch him with your own two eyes he will drive you crazy. He's madly inconsistent at times and - while he still is only 22 and has plenty of time to turn things around - he suddenly looks like a high-risk, high-reward guy right now. The Royals did the right thing in adding the shortstop they need.
Also, there is no need for Tony Pena Jr. on this team anymore. So that should make fans happy when the club releases him to make room for Betancourt in the coming weeks. IF the club doesn't drop Pena Jr. then I will go ballistic on here. Betancourt will now be the everyday shortstop, thus the club can use Bloomquist to fill in there if Betancourt needs a day off. Pena is NOT needed. Moore won't need to worry either, Pena almost surely won't be claimed off of waivers should they DFA him, thus they could keep him and send him to Omaha where he belongs.
By the way, Saito - a former 16th-rounder - is just an extra body in the deal. Not a real prospect.
This was a good move IMO.