While the Royals were busy squandering another Zack Greinke gem on the field, the front office was busy as well. Both moves are significant in the short-term as well as the long-term, especially if your name is Alex Gordon.
First, after the extra innings victory over Tampa Bay on Saturday, the Royals announced that they’d traded AAA reliever Carlos Rosa to Arizona for High-A shortstop Rey Navarro.
On paper, this looks like a lopsided deal. The Royals, amidst repeated failures by the bullpen in the first month of the season, can’t just start trading young relief arms, right? In a wild month that saw half the bullpen turnover, Rosa was never one of the players to get the call, and it’s pretty clear the Royals have soured on his abilities. Greg Schaum passes on an assessment from a scout that “Rosa is very hittable and the late movement he once had on his pitches has basically disappeared. He has leveled out and has not gone back to back games all season. He is not resilient enough to be taken seriously as a RP.”
In Navarro, the Royals received a 20-year-old switch hitter with a little bit of pop (he hit 25 doubles in 451 at bats in the Midwest League in 2009). With the injury problems of Jeff Bianchi, Navarro steps in as the top shortstop prospect in the Royals system, with good range and a strong arm. He’s been error prone in the lower levels and hasn’t shown much patience, but he doesn’t turn 21 until the end of the season, so he’s still learning the professional game.
The big move over the weekend, however, came after the 1-0 loss against the Rays, as the Royals optioned Alex Gordon to Omaha and promoted Mike Aviles.
Gordon had hit .194 in 31 at bats with Kansas City after coming off the disabled list with a broken thumb that he suffered early in spring training. Gordon had also committed four errors at third base and with the return of Chris Getz from the DL, Trey Hillman chose to keep Alberto Callaspo’s bat in the lineup at third base. The move gets Alex Gordon everyday action in Omaha, though some wonder if he can benefit from being sent down at all when his issues have been hitting major league pitching, not AAA pitching.
Aviles made the 25-man roster on opening day but only made one at bat and came in as a pinch runner before going to Omaha for similar reasons as Gordon – to get everyday playing time and also to strengthen his arm after elbow surgery last year. Aviles was hitting .271 in 70 at bats in Omaha. He was the Royals player of the year in 2008 after hitting .325 his rookie season.