The Royals made a series of very intelligent moves last night just before the arbitration deadline. Gone are John Buck and Josh Anderson, but Dayton Moore and company didn’t stop there agreeing to terms on 1-year deals with Roman Colon, Kyle Davies, and Brian Bannister.
C-John Buck (29) being non-tendered is something we all saw coming before the regular season came to a close. With a 2009 salary already at $2.9 million and a likely minimum pay increase of $500,000 coming his way through arbitration, there was no way the Royals were going to keep him. By contrast, Jason Kendall’s contract will pay him $2.25 million in 2010 and $3.75 million in 2011. That means the team will save around $1.25 million next season by switching from Buck to Kendall. Assuming the team doesn’t make any other moves impacting the major league catching situation, they will save close to another $3 million by swapping out Miguel Olivo in favor of Brayan Pena.
2009 Tandem of Olivo and Buck: $6.2 million
2010 Tandem of Kendall and Pena: $2.75 million (approximately)
The position still needs to be addressed. I’m not a huge fan of the Kendall signing, but he is not an embarrassment at the position. Taking all factors into consideration, the Royals really aren’t any worse off at catcher than they were in 2009. In fact, Kendall’s defense might put the 2010 tandem in the lead. John Dewan had Jason ranked as the 2nd best defensive catcher in all of baseball, tied with Jose Molina and ranked behind only Yadier Molina. Toss in the fact that they are saving $3.45 million in the process and I can finally see the logic of their moves for next season. I still have problems with the fact that they committed $3.75 million to Kendall in 2011, and I have a problem with the fact that Kendall’s presence all but guarantees that Brayan Pena isn’t going to be given much of a chance to show what he can do behind the plate. That said, thanks in large part to Dewan’s opinions, I am warming up to the pairing of Jason Kendall and Brayan Pena for the 2010 season. I still wish they had landed a younger option with more upside and the ability to be in the team’s plans beyond 2011, but with a $3.45 million savings this year I’m going to try and have a more positive outlook. In fairness, the team can still add a younger guy via a minor league contract and stash him in Triple-A, or they may believe that Manuel Pina is the player that can be the bridge until Wil Myers is ready.
OF-Josh Anderson (27), wasn’t an obvious non-tender candidate but he joins John Buck on the free agent market as the Royals cut ties with him. While he was going into arbitration this offseason, he didn’t figure to get a large pay increase. Anderson hit 0.240/.276/.304 in 283 AB between Detroit and Kansas City. Over the course of his career, he has been below average defensively in CF with a -11.2 UZR/150. The one place he’s been well above average defensively is in LF where he has a career UZR/150 of 32.2. Unfortunately the Royals need a quality defensive, and offensive, CF. LF is one of the few positions they can considered filled thanks to the presence of David DeJesus.
Perhaps defensive ability and the ability to get on base have truly become points of emphasis instead of just talking points. I’m still thinking of sending Dayton Moore a copy of John Dewan’s book The Fielding Bible Volume II for Christmas. I would hope someone in the front office already has a copy, but just in case …
Late last night the Royals also agreed to terms on one-year contracts with:
RHP-Roman Colon (30) received a $225,000 raise. He will make $660,000 in 2010. Colon threw 50.1 innings for the Royals last season with a 4.83 ERA, 1.430 WHIP, 1.32 SO/BB, and ERA+ of 92. He struck out 29 and walked 22. Roman Colon didn’t pitch terribly last year, and he figures to do better in 2010 as his SO/BB rate should fall back in line with his previous seasons. He has a career 1.78 SO/BB and prior to last season his lowest SO/BB was 1.79. Despite the one-year deal and decent raise, he will have to perform well to make the opening day roster. They Royals have already added a number of 2010 relief options via minor league contracts which should lead to some fierce competition for a handful of open bullpen spots.
RHP-Kyle Davies (26) received a $500,000 raise and will make $1.8 million in 2010. After going 8-9 with a 5.29 ERA, 1.528 WHIP, 84 ERA+, and 1.30 SO/BB in 123.0 IP last season, there aren’t many who are still riding on the Kyle Davies bandwagon. I’m still a card-carrying member of the Davies fan club. I have seen enough from him to know that he can and should succeed in the majors. Of all the players on the 40-man roster, I think Jason Kendall could have the biggest impact on the careers of Davies and Luke Hochevar. Like I mentioned above, I’m warming up to Jason Kendall.
RHP-Brian Bannister (28) gets a $600,000 raise. He will make $2.3 million in 2010. He finished the season 7-12 with a 4.73 ERA, 1.370 WHIP, 93 ERA+, and 1.96 SO/BB. Bannister has a great deal of value at the back end of a major league rotation, but thanks to the slow development and struggles of Hochevar and Davies, BB has been miscast as a #3 starter. He’s smart, is a fan of sabermetrics, and has done more with his natural talent than most. All of these things make him a fan favorite and a guy we can all cheer for even when he’s getting hammered. The fact that he is the son of former Royals pitcher Floyd Bannister, and the fact he is the return from Dayton’s best trade to date also make him an endearing figure.
Dayton Moore now has only two players to deal with in arbitration. 3B-Alex Gordon (25) made $457,000 last season, and despite dealing with a hip injury for most of 2009, his 2007 and 2008 performances should net him a sizeable pay increase. How the team handles Gordon’s arbitration case will speak volumes about how they feel about his future in the organization. RHP-Robinson Tejeda (27) made $437,000 last season, and is also due a sizeable pay increase, especially after establishing himself as a candidate for the starting rotation. He gave the Royals quality innings as both a starter and a reliever and finished the year with an ERA+ of 125. He was the third best pitcher, behind Greinke and Soria, on the 2009 staff and he’s going to get paid. In five ML seasons, he has been an above average pitcher for four of them. Tejeda is legitimately a part of the Royals future, and it is in their best interests to sign him this offseason to a multi-year deal.
Two non-tenders and three one-year contracts for a total of five moves made by the Royals last night. Amazingly I think the the team did the right thing with all five of these players.