Kansas City Royals: Trading Melky Cabrera Was a Blessing in Disguise

James Ermilio@jimmyermilioCorrespondent IIIAugust 27, 2012

Cabrera took  a mighty tumble from grace with his drug suspension this season.
Cabrera took a mighty tumble from grace with his drug suspension this season.Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

It seemed, just a few shorts weeks ago, that the Kansas City Royals got a raw deal when they traded OF Melky Cabrera to the San Francisco Giants for SP Jonathan Sanchez last offseason.

Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter in 2009, struggled mightily with the Royals, going 1-6 with a 7.76 ERA in his first season in the American League.  He was shipped off to the Rockies for SP Jeremy Guthrie, who has admittedly fared a little better with a 4.32 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.

The other consideration in the Cabrera deal was that it freed up blue-chip prospect Lorenzo Cain to start in center for the Royals this season.  Unfortunately for Kansas City, Cain missed three months with a strained left groin and a torn hip flexor.  

With a sudden (albeit temporary) hole in center, and underperformance from the players acquired in the trade, the transaction looked bad for the Royals.

And all that doesn't even take into account the career year Cabrera was enjoying in San Francisco. 

Cabrera, who broke out in 2011 with the Royals, hitting .305 with 18 homers and racking up 201 hits, was dealt by KC because they knew he was due a big payday in the coming seasons.

He settled for a one-year, $6 million contract with the Giants after the trade, in hopes that a second strong season would establish a high value for his services on the free-agent market.

He proceeded to tear through the National League with a .346 batting average (albeit one aided by an unsustainable .379 batting-average-on-balls-in-play) and a league-leading 85 runs.  His OPS, in particular, was a remarkable .906, a surge of over 200 points above his 2010 campaign with the Atlanta Braves

His career seemed to have skyrocketed, with the former Yankees fringe player finally growing into a fully-fledged star.  

He even made a triumphant return to the Royals' Kauffman Stadium in this year's All-Star Game, where he won the MVP award.

Then, with the recent announcement that Cabrera had tested positive for testosterone and would be banned 50 games under the MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment plan, it all came to a halt.

Cabrera admitted to his use of an illegal performance enhancer, and accepted his suspension.  According to a statement released by the players' union (obtained through ESPN), Cabrera said: 

My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used. I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down.

Now, in spite of the paltry return for Cabrera, we can safely say the Royals lucked out in having traded him a few months before he was caught for using performance enhancers.

They will avoid the media scrutiny, intensive accusations directed towards Cabrera's teammates of similar drug abuse, and the need to scramble for another outfielder midseason.  

While the Giants will have to continue to answer for the fall of their MVP candidate, the Royals can move on with a now-healthy Cain patrolling center-field.  

And given that they were just a few months from being Cabrera's current team when he was caught, they should consider themselves lucky to be able to do so.