By now, you may have heard the slight controversy involving Ken Griffey Jr. and the Seattle Mariners. Here’s the brief recap if you hadn’t: Griffey, 40, was unavailable to pinch hit recently because when manager Don Wakamatsu went to find him, Griffey was allegedly asleep in the clubhouse (this isn’t verified and new statements indicate the allegation may be half-true at best). At any rate, with an average hovering around the Mendoza line, Griffey – a future Hall of Famer – is well past his prime and may be released, or may be persuaded to retire.
The Mariners are last in the AL in runs scored and only ahead of Houston. It’s well understood that they need offensive help to contend in 2010 and Kansas City may be an ideal trading partner for them.
All optimism aside, the Royals aren’t going to contend in 2010. Maybe if Tom Berenger were our catcher, maybe of Joseph Gordon-Levitt was our biggest fan, maybe if Zack Greinke sold his soul for a win. But otherwise, we need to look ahead and gather as many future pieces as we can for the last years of club control for Billy Butler, Mike Aviles, Alberto Callaspo and Joakim Soria (2013/2014). That core, along with upcoming prospects Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, Mike Montgomery, Aaron Crow and Mike Moustakas, won’t be playing alongside David DeJesus or Jose Guillen (at the rate things are going, I wouldn’t anticipate Greinke either, but that’s another discussion).
Guillen, with 8 homers, 21 RBI and an .849 OPS would fit in Seattle’s lineup as a power hitting DH or right fielder (if they were so brave to put him out there). Some issues are his age, speed and reputation. Combining Guillen and Milton Bradley could be like a match and a powder keg, although Guillen has been much more mellow in 2010 after multiple episodes of clubhouse drama throughout his career. Another snag would be his $12 million salary for 2010. Kansas City would have to eat a big chunk to get a good return, and I’d guess it’d have to be at least $10 million of it.
DeJesus owns a career slash line of .285/.357/.426. He’s not spectacular in any one category, but he’s not deficient in any either. He’s a solid everyday outfielder who’ll provide above average defense, speed, on-base skills, average power and a reasonable penchant for scoring runs and driving in RBI despite his power limitations. In short, he’s the consummate roleplayer who can be the last piece to a contender’s puzzle. He’s making $4.5 million in 2010 and has a club option for 2011 at $6 million.
Of the two, DeJesus is the more attractive option, of course and thus would provide the better return for the Royals. He may not be the best fit for Seattle, though, as they have a roster seemingly full of table-setters and nobody to clear the bases. If DeJesus is to be traded, he may be a good fit for the Yankees as they look to fill their lineup as Curtis Granderson recovers from a groin injury. But for the sake of this exercise, let’s say the Mariners are interested in DeJesus. What return could Kansas City expect?
In the offseason, the Red Sox gave up LHP Hunter Jones, a 26 year old AAA reliever and 21 year old LHP Jose Alvarez for 26 year old Jeremy Hermida (.264/.343/.427/.770 for his career). That seems to be a decent baseline for DeJesus, though he has less upside than Hermida.
With that in mind, I would like to get any two of the following Mariners farmhands:
LHP Brian Moran (21) – 6’3 185 lbs, 7th round pick in 2009
|A (2 seasons)||1||4||2.65||34.0||1.118||8.2||0.0||1.9||9.3||5.00|
|Rk (1 season)||1||0||3.72||9.2||0.828||5.6||0.0||1.9||13.0||7.00|
3B/1B Nate Tenbrink (23) – 6’2″ 202 lbs, 2008 7th round pick (and Olathe, KS product)
RHP Kenn Kasparek (24) – 6’8″ 200 lbs, 2008 12th round pick
RHP Michael Pineda (21) – 6’5″ 180lbs, undrafted FA signing in 2005
|FRk (2 seasons)||8||2||1.82||79.1||1.286||9.5||0.2||2.0||7.0||3.44|
|A (1 season)||8||6||1.95||138.1||1.041||7.1||0.5||2.3||8.3||3.66|
|AA (1 season)||2||0||2.23||32.1||1.175||8.1||0.3||2.5||11.1||4.44|
|Rk (1 season)||0||0||0.00||3.0||0.667||6.0||0.0||0.0||12.0|
|A+ (1 season)||4||2||2.84||44.1||0.789||5.9||0.6||1.2||9.7||8.00|
LHP Mauricio Robles (21) – 5’10” 205lbs, undrafted free agent signing in 2006
|A (2 seasons)||9||7||3.41||147.2||1.219||6.0||0.5||4.9||9.1||1.85|
|FRk (2 seasons)||3||7||3.28||85.0||1.412||8.2||0.4||4.6||10.9||2.40|
|A+ (1 season)||7||4||3.21||67.1||1.337||7.6||0.5||4.4||9.9||2.24|
|AA (1 season)||3||1||3.30||30.0||1.067||6.0||0.3||3.6||10.5||2.92|
The biggest prizes on the list are Pineda and Robles, ranked #7 and #13 respectively in the Mariners system by Baseball America. Robles has mostly been used in relief and has had lower than average control, but makes up for it with a high strikeout rate that’s been consistent through every level in the minors. He also keeps the ball in the ballpark, which helps his cause. Oh and he’s left-handed. Always a plus.
Pineda’s scouting report mentions that his pitches have a lot of movement, including a cutter he runs up at about 91mph to complement his 95mph four-seamer. He’s added weight to fill out and could project to be a mid-rotation type which would take advantage of his strong K/BB ratio.
Kasparek is interesting due to his size. At 6’8″, he could be dominant, and his early strikeout rates demonstrate that. He has solid control as well. A couple of concerns are that at 24 years old, he’s still in High-A and in 2007 he underwent Tommy John Surgery. He also has a 5.1 K/9 rate in 35.1 innings in High Desert compared to an 8.6 career rate.
Tenbrink has progressed at every level and you’ll notice he had 41 extra base hits in 2009 and thus far has 15 in High-A. He’s also been successful at stealing bases at a moderate rate while playing at the corners and in left field.
Brian Moran could be the type of toss-in that could develop into a steal just looking at his numbers. He’s dominated the lower levels so far, as he’s yet to give up a homerun and looks to have plus control with a high strikeout rate. He’s also left-handed and only 21 years old.
I’ll admit I’m no expert on the Seattle minor league system, but these seem like intriguing prospects. Pineda’s my favorite option, and I like Moran’s potential on paper, as well. And if we’re able to move Guillen (and get Kila Ka’aihue regular at-bats in the process) I’d take any of these guys. For DeJesus, we’d likely only receive one in return but could potentially get another prospect with them. Unfortunately, neither Royal would command Dustin Ackley, but there are still potentially valuable assets that could be had in a deal.