Two years ago to the day, the Royals made one of the most prolific trades in the team’s history. Former Cy Young winner, Zack Greinke, was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers for an abundance of young talent. In the trade, the Royals acquired shortstop Alcides Escobar, center fielder Lorenzo Cain, and right-handed pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress. The Royals also shipped off shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and some cash considerations.
While Greinke was the center piece of the deal, he is no longer with the Brewers. He found himself traded by the Brewers in the middle of this year to the Los Angeles Angels where he went 6-2 the rest of the way with a 3.53 ERA. After the season Greinke was granted free agency, and after testing the market, he wound up signing one of the richest deals for a pitcher in Major League history. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for six years at $147 million. It’s remarkable to believe that a team struggling to develop pitching was able to produce one of the most sought after free agent pitchers of the last several years.
The Royals greatest return is their shortstop Alcides Escobar. He should be a mainstay for several years and be an anchor up the middle. He was known for being flashy with his glove, but has actually put up some solid, yet unexpected offensive numbers. He struggled his first season at the plate in Kansas City, but found his stroke as he hit .293 and stole 35 bases while collecting 42 extra base hits. While I do think Escobar had his peak season at the dish last year, I do think he will be around his 2012 numbers for the rest of his time with the Royals.
Another great haul in the trade is current Royals outfielder, Lorenzo Cain. When Cain is healthy it looks as if he can be a staple in the outfield where he can provide a decent amount of pop and speed. In an injury-shortened season he still connected on seven home runs and drove in 31 runs while stealing ten bases. If you stretch that out over an entire season that’s roughly 20 home runs, nearly 90 RBI and almost 30 stolen bases. I’d gladly take that on this team, which has been looking for an answer in center field for a few years now.
Jake Odorizzi was a former first round pick and one of the Royals most coveted pitching prospects. He had an incredible season at two stops this year in the minors. He went a combined 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA to go along with 135 strike outs in 145.1 innings. Odorizzi was just included in the Royals latest trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, that netted James Shields and Wade Davis. It strikes me odd that this former first rounder who’s had a lot of success in the minors at a young age has been traded away by two teams already. Maybe I’m just reading into that a little too much though.
Another first rounder included in the deal was Jeremy Jeffress. He was purchased by the Toronto Blue Jays in November after two subpar seasons with the Royals. He appeared in 27 games and allowed 18 runs in 28.2 innings pitched. He has a power arm but always struggled with command as he walked 24 men in his brief time with the Royals. Betancourt is no longer on the Royals even though we signed him as a free agent following his year with the Brewers. He was released by the Royals midseason in 2012.
We still have two very important pieces from the original trade two years ago. If we play our cards right, they could be intricate parts to a playoff run over the next few seasons, especially after packaging Odorizzi to get two impactful veteran pitchers in Shields and Davis. This trade has worked favorably for the Royals in the short term and I believe it will still be very favorable in the next coming seasons as well as it looks like they have set themselves up for possible success.