The Trade That Wasn’t

By Editorial Staff

If anyone is active with the Royals’ Twitter community or was keeping track of MLB Trade Rumors Saturday, you probably saw that the Royals were in talks with the Marlins about acquiring Cameron Maybin. It first broke sometime early in the afternoon that the Padres could acquire Maybin. Soon after that, the Royals were said to be involved. At this point, there was a great bit of hypothesizing about what it would take to get Maybin.

Well, the Royals didn’t get Maybin. It’s hard to say if the Marlins or Royals cut the talks, but it sounded like Alex Gordon was at some point involved in the discussion. Anyway, the Padres eventually pulled the trigger and sent receivers Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica to Florida.

So, really, how could the Royals have missed out on this? Let’s get the rundown on Maybin first so we know what we were trying to trade for.

Cameron Maybin was the last remaining piece of the Miguel Cabrera/Dontrelle Willis trade that Florida made with Detroit several years ago, if I remember correctly. He’s been a highly-touted prospect in his time as BA ranked him #1 in the Marlins system in both 2008 and 2009. He’s a speedy centerfielder that has had a decent bat in the minors for such a player, compiling a .306/.393/.478 line throughout his time and often slugging over .500. He definitely has potential, but in 610 plate appearances in the majors Maybin’s hit just .246/.313/.380. He also has a BB/K of 0.27 in the majors, which doesn’t inspire too much confidence. To be fair, Maybin is just 23 and has yet to play a full season in the big leagues, so it’s hard to say just yet what he’ll develop into. For me (and several others), Maybin’s potential ability was enough to want the Royals to acquire him.

And what about the pieces the Marlins did get from the Padres?

Ryan Webb is a 24-year-old righty that has a 3.19 ERA and 3.34 FIP in 84.2 major league innings. He’s struck out 6.7/9 IP and walked 3.2/9 IP, though the walk rate decreased from his first to second years. He’s been particularly hittable, allowing 9.7 hits/9 IP and showing a 1.429 WHIP. While he seems like a competent and decent reliever with potential, it’s hard to imagine that Dayton couldn’t have found a similar guy to include in the trade. Greg Schaum suggested on Twitter that Louis Coleman would’ve been a good comparison to Webb in the trade.

Edward Mujica is another fairly young (26) reliever that was acquired by the Padres from the Indians in the 2008 offseason. In 233.1 major league IP and 179 games, Mujica has a 4.47 ERA and 4.01 FIP, which suggests to me that Webb is the real get for the Marlins. Anyway, Mujica does have a solid walk rate at 1.4 BB/9 IP and good strikeout rate at 7.5 K/9 IP. His strikeout rate does seem to be increasing each season, with a 9.3 K/9 IP and 12 K/BB this season. Like Webb, he gives up a lot of hits (9.6/9 IP), but his strikeout totals help to limit the damage. Schaum compared him to our own Robinson Tejeda.

That’s all the Marlins got for a 23-year old high-ceiling centerfielder. We can be upset with how Dayton handles some trades, but if it were me I’d be a pretty mad Marlins fan right now.* They gained two guys that have pitched mostly in a huge pitcher’s park, so their value will almost certainly be lower away from Petco. Nonetheless, it’s hard to imagine why Dayton couldn’t figure out a way to make this trade happen. It’s possible that the Padres just moved really fast, as the time from trade rumor to trade completion was roughly around 2 or 3 hours. If Gordon was included in the talks, as was reported, should we have made the trade?

*Disclaimer: I rarely get to watch a Marlins game, so I don’t have any first-hand experience with how Maybin plays now.

*And Dayton might not either based on reports that they don’t want to trade Gordon for little in return. However, Maybin likely isn’t a small return.

Another thing about this trade is that (ignoring that the Padres already have a great centerfield defender in Tony Gwynn Jr.) the Royals outfield is slammed right now. If Gordon had been trade for Maybin, then that would have been a smooth transaction. However, if the Royals sent two guys like Coleman and Tejeda to Florida for Maybin, then we would have more light-hitting young defense-oriented outfielders than we could field. This, of course, would suggest another trade. That alone makes me wonder if Dayton has some other trade in mind, but, as always, reading his thoughts is nearly impossible.

In the end, this was a trade that didn’t happen for no apparent reason. It’s nearly impossible to tell what goes on behind those closed doors of major league front offices sometimes, but it’s hard to believe that Dayton couldn’t arrange a better trade for Maybin than the actual Mujica/Webb bundle Florida acquired. Another day, another trade rumor, but it seems to me that there is something cooking for the Royals. It’s unclear what it will be just yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a trade happen in the next few weeks. Dayton’s tendency toward early trades and supposed lack of interest in the free agent market make me think we could see one or two more trades possibly before December hits.