Friday afternoon, the San Diego Padres signed catcher Yorvit Torrealba to a one-year $1.25 million contact with a $3.5 million mutual option for 2011.
Remember when the Royals signed Jason Kendall to a two-year contract worth a minimum of $6 million? It was a bad move on the surface, but when Miguel Olivo and John Buck signed more reassonable contracts elsewhere, Kendall’s deal became cast in a far more negative light. The details of Torrealba’s deal just further highlights how badly Dayton Moore erred in his judgment. It was an error in judgment both in his selection of players and his usage of financial resources to address the catching position.
At the beginning of December there were three viable major league options on my personal radar that made sense for the Royals for 2010 and beyond. Those three were Robinzon Diaz, Dioner Navarro, and Yorvit Torrealba. Now that all three are under contract we can recap.
Diaz was released by the Pirates on November 30th and signed a minor league contract with the Tigers on December 8th.
In early December, Dioner Navarro was considered to be a prime non-tender candidate and was actively shopped during the Winter Meetings. He wound up signing a one-year $2.1 million contract on December 12th, the day after the Royals signed Kendall.
Also in early December, Torrealba was one of the catchers that the Royals were rumored to have interest in. He had a two-year deal on the table from the Rockies, and his chances of being a viable option for Kansas City seemed slim. Still, I advocated offering him a 3-year deal to bring him into the fold. In the end it appears that Yorvit elected to take less with the Padres rather than back up Iannetta in Colorado.
The three above players not only highlight the flaws of the Jason Kendall contract, they also highlight how truly difficult Dayton Moore’s job is. On the one hand, you can argue that he should have acted more swiftly and landed Robinzon Diaz before the Detroit Tigers did. You can argue that he should have been aggressive and made a move to trade for Dioner Navarro. The problem is that his aggressiveness and lack of patience are what led him to give Kendall the contract that he did. Patience would have likely led the Royals to Yorvit Torrealba as Kansas City could have offered him the lion’s share of playing time, but that mode of operation would have precluded him from taking a chance on Diaz.
As Royals fans, we’re stuck with Kendall for two seasons at a ridiculous cost. Ivan Rodriguez received a similar 2-year $6 million to sign with Washington. The big difference between the two is that Pudge has a history of making his teams better and relevant from time to time. Jason Kendall has never been able to manage that, so he better work miracles with the pitching staff.
In the big picture, Kendall’s signing and contract is a small mistake, but when you put a bunch of small mistakes together, you end up with a total of 672 wins in the previous 10 seasons.