It is definitely trade rumor season—I even did my own little part by speculating that the Ryan Freel acquisition was a precursor to more moves by the Royals. Now, Bob Dutton at the Kansas City Star believes that move makes the Royals buyers, not sellers, but I still stand by my sentiment that there are moves yet to come.
While there has been talk swirling around Brian Bannister and even Gil Meche as of late, the primary rumor name on the offensive side of the ball has been Mark Teahen.
I have no idea if Kansas City is seriously shopping him or not, but he is an interesting discussion topic, given that three players with similar, but certainly not identical, skill sets have already been dealt. That gives us some idea of what the trade market actually might be—at least at this point in time.
Let’s break down the three deals:
Mark DeRosa to the Cardinals
At 34, Mark DeRosa is seven years older than Teahen and came into 2009 with 893 major league games and 2,650 at-bats under his belt. He sported a career line of .279/.348/.422 playing second, third and the outfield, and was right on target prior to his trade this season (.270/.342/.457).
DeRosa did not get regular playing time until 2006 and had three remarkably similar seasons:
Having hit a career-high 21 home runs in 2008 (along with 30 doubles), DeRosa is on his way to matching or surpassing that number with 13 homers already in 2009.
In return for DeRosa, the Indians received 23-year-old reliever Chris Perez and a player to be named later. In Perez, you have a strikeout pitcher who saved seven games for the Cards in 2008 and struck out 42 hitters in 41.2 innings of major league work.
In the minors, Perez averaged 12 strikeouts per nine innings. He has a 9.8 K/9 mark in 67 innings of major league work. He could very well develop into a premier closer in the next couple of years, and at worst he probably profiles out to something like Juan Cruz. I think you could reasonably equate Perez’s current value to that of Leo Nunez or Ramon Ramirez.
The PTBNL is speculated to be another power reliever, possibly Jess Todd or Francisco Samuel. Todd was a second-round pick in 2007, is also 23 years old and is the closer for the Card’s AAA club in Memphis. He is currently sporting a 46/9 K/BB ratio over 37 innings of work after posting extremely good numbers as a starter across three different levels in 2008.
Todd destroys right-handed hitters with a cut fastball and excellent slider. Although their stuff is different, in "organizational stature" I would offer up Carlos Rosa as a comparison, although Todd has certainly enjoyed greater success this season in his move to the bullpen.
Samuel is 22 years old with a big fastball and nasty slider. He is operating at the High A level this year, having struck out 39 batters in 31 innings, but also walking 28. If Samuel can get at least some control (his career walk rate is almost one per inning) he will be virtually impossible to hit. I guess you could compare him to a Henry Barrera from the Royals system.
The Indians were after young, power arms for their bullpen and, if the PTBNL turns out to be Jess Todd, they got two major-league-ready ones.
Eric Hinske to the Yankees
Now, another "corner guy" who recently switched teams was 31-year-old Eric Hinske. A former rookie of the year winner, Hinske brought 957 games and 3,012 big league at-bats worth of experience to the Yankees.
His career line stands at .254/.337/.436 with 106 homers, but after smacking 20 home runs in 381 at-bats for the Rays in 2008, Hinske had a slugging percentage of just .368 in 106 at-bats for the Pirates prior to the trade.
In return, Pittsburgh netted two players currently in High A-ball, both of whom will turn 24 in August.
Eric Fryer is a catcher who slugged .506 in 2008 with 15 steals, but was slugging just .344 in 2009 with 11 steals through 59 games. Originally a tenth-round pick of Milwaukee in 2007, the Pirates will be Fryer’s third organization in three years. There are a lot of "Fryer types" in every organization, and the Royals have Ryan Eigsti and Joe Billick as examples.
The second player acquired was right-hander Casey Erickson who has 60 minor league games and 23 starts under his belt—all at A-ball or below. Over 182 innings, he has allowed 197 hits, walked 43 and struck out 169 on his way to a nice 3.07 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. He is quite obviously old for his level. I might compare him in value to a Matt Kniginyzky or Edward Paulino of the Royals’ system.
Scott Hairston to Oakland
The final trade we will examine is that of Scott Hairston to Oakland in exchange for Ryan Webb, Craig Italiano, AND a PTBNL.
In Hairston, you have a 29-year-old, who has played some second and third but is mostly an outfielder at this point. Over 398 major league games, Scott has compiled a modest line of .257/.314/.470 with 51 homers, and has never appeared in more than 112 games in any one season.
In return, the Athletics gave up their 2004 fourth-round pick in right hander Ryan Webb. Added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft this past offseason, Webb had converted almost exclusively to relief this season at AAA. He had thrown 44.2 innings, struck out 37, walked 15 and allowed 57 hits at the time of this trade.
Over his minor league career, Webb had thrown 550 innings with a 5.30 ERA, averaging 7.5 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. The Royals do not really have a comparable pitcher to Webb at the AAA level, but you can pretty much see what you are getting here.
Twenty-three year old Craig Italiano was a prospect after posting 1.16 ERA over 14 Low A-ball starts in 2008, but imploded to a 9.90 ERA upon his promotion to the High A level. Still at High A this season, Craig had 75 strikeouts in 76.2 innings, but had also been tagged for 40 walks and 83 hits on his way to a 5.63 ERA.
Keep in mind, however, that this is all in the California League, which is something other than "pitcher friendly." Although their styles are nothing alike, I might assign Italiano a value similar to Rowdy Hardy’s prior to the season.
Rumors are that the Player To Be Named Later will be "significant" in this deal, so it makes it even harder to evaluate, but the Padres certainly got more out this deal than the Pirates did out of the Hinske trade.
So, where does Mark Teahen fit into these scenarios? Let’s compare the career lines of the players:
Looking at those numbers and, most importantly, the age of each player certainly gives Royals’ fans some hope that should Dayton Moore decide to pull the trigger on a Teahen trade that they might net more in return than any of the other three players.
Sure, DeRosa is the better player right now, but he is seven years old and more expensive than Teahen. He brought a major league reliever with upside and either another major league ready reliever or a power arm with a boatload of potential in return. Given that, would it be completely unrealistic to expect a nearly major league ready position player in return for Mark?
Perhaps that is wishful thinking, perhaps it is not. This time next month, we will know for sure.