Royals Trade Wilson Betemit to Detroit for Two Minor Leaguers

The first of many expected trades occurred this afternoon as the Royals shipped infielder Wilson Betemit to the Tigers for minor league left-handed pitcher Antonio Cruz and catcher Julio Rodriguez.

Mike Aviles was recalled from Omaha to fill Betemit’s spot on the active roster.  Betemit had been in the lineup tonight against lefty John Danks, leaving Mike Moustakas on the bench.  Moose will now bat seventh.

As for the return for Betemit…

I had difficulty sizing up Betemit’s trade value.  He had a great 2010 after signing with the Royals as a minor league free agent, batting .297/.378/.511 with 13 homers in over 300 plate appearances.  He wasn’t seeing a lot of time after both Eric Hosmer and Moustakas got called up.  Betemit has some versatility as a corner infielder, has played second base occasionally and at least came up as a shortstop.

In 226 plate appearances in 2011, Betemit hit .281/.341/.409 but had just three homers.

In Cruz, the Royals get a 19-year-old lefty with a 3.09 ERA in 151.1 innings in the Tigers system.  At 5’11” 160 pounds he’s small for a starter so he’ll probably be in the bullpen as he moves through the system.  He was pitching in the Midwest League for Detroit, with a 3.11 ERA in 75.1 innings pitched and a 58/28 K/BB ratio.

Cruz has some life on his fastball, a nice 1-7 curve and pitches with some deception.

Rodriguez is a big 21-year-old catcher in High A.  He’s hitting .283/.325/.354 in Lakeland in the Florida League.  Over his career, he’s hit .255/.302/.334 in just over 1000 plate appearances.  He’s only walked 46 times in 1039 appearances but he’s only struck out 110 times, so I guess that balances it out a little bit.

The Royals figure to be active this trade season with Bruce Chen and Jeff Francis pitching well enough to draw interest from other teams.  Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera (who is mentioned in rumors involving the Phillies) are having good years as well.  All four are on one-year deals, though Cabrera and Francoeur have options for 2012 and aren’t guaranteed to be moved.

The trade also opens a spot on the 40 man roster which could be filled by Johnny Giavotella, Mike Montgomery, or some high-level prospect the Royals might get in a trade later this month.  Their main desire is close-to-ready major league pitching.

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Tags: AL Central Antonio Cruz Baseball Julio Rodriguez Kansas City Royals KC MLB Royals Wilson Betemit

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