The New York Daily News printed its second (at least) article in the past week regarding a deal in the early stages of talks between Royals and the Mets. In this deal, Kansas City would be sending Jose Guillen to New York, presumably eating a chunk of his $12 million salary for 2010, for Angel Pagan.
It is no secret that Jose Guillen's contract has been a bit of a disaster. Given his age, physical condition, and injury history, there is a nearly nonexistent chance that he will prove himself worthy of the remaining $12 million on his contract. Clark over at Royals Authority expressed a sentiment I share:
"The money's gone no matter what—no one is going to make the Royals an offer that begins with 'we'll pay all of Guillen's salary'—the time is now to get something...anything, and move on."
To get a player like Pagan in return, someone who by defensive metrics like UZR/150 is above average in the corners and average in center and possesses a career .281/.331/.443 split in 829 plate appearances, would be worthy of eating nearly all of Guillen's albatross of a contract.
Even if the reports of his attention lapses in the field are accurate, the situation cannot be any worse than having to play Jose Guillen in the field, whose range is limited to a five-foot radius.
The switch-hitting Pagan is also coming off a year in which he hit .306/.350/.487, which was aided by a BABIP of .352 but also came in the power-sapping confines of Citi Field. At 28 (turns 29 in July), Pagan's 2009 season stands out from the rest, which doesn't inspire confidence insofar as the expectation of repetition is concerned. Even after taking that into account, Pagan is not an absolute liability in the field.
In 2009, Pagan had a WAR of 2.8. Even in Guillen's arguably productive 2008 campaign, he only produced a 0.2 WAR. The WAR-based value FanGraphs assigned to Pagan's 2009 season was $12.8 million.
If this deal can get done, then Dayton Moore needs to do everything he can to make it happen. Pagan is arbitration-eligible and made $575,000 last year. If the Royals have to pay $10 million of Guillen's salary and somewhere in the $1-2 million range for Pagan, it is worth it in my book, even with the very real chance that Pagan does not replicate his 2009 success.
As for the Erik Bedard rumors, he was a Mariner, so it makes sense that the Royals would be pursuing him.
According to Jeff Passan (and obviously MLB Trade Rumors, who we all frequent at this time of year), the Royals are coming hard and fast at Bedard. Any deal seems likely to be incentive-laden, although with Moore's recent history there has certainly been a good deal of money handed out irresponsibly.
Assuming that they could sign him for a reasonably low guaranteed salary (somewhere below $3 million or so) with easily attainable guarantees granted relative healthiness, I am in favor of the signing.
It was obvious that the Mariners grotesquely overpaid when they pulled the trigger on the deal with Baltimore to acquire Bedard two offseasons ago. Fortunately, the Royals wouldn't have to give up anything more than money to get Bedard.
Moreover, signing Bedard to a performance-based contract with attainable benchmarks if he's healthy sends the right message to other free agents and the important players within the organization (read: Zack Greinke).
And, yes, he did have surgery on his torn labrum in his throwing shoulder in August, so he more than likely will not be ready on Opening Day, but he should be able to begin working out again in February. If we're only talking about missing the first month or two, then he may be of more worth than just as a trading chip, which would in and of itself be a worthy gambit.
If the Royals can find a way to cut bait on awful contracts like Guillen's while getting playable pieces back in return and independently signing guys like Brad Thompson, Jorge Campillo, and Bryan Bullington to non-guaranteed minor-league contracts to stock the upper level of the minors and potentially bolster the bullpen, then they may be able to make a step back in the right direction.
It certainly cannot get much worse.