KC Royals Swap OF Brett Eibner For OF Billy Burns
The KC Royals acquired OF Billy Burns in exchange for OF Brett Eibner on Saturday afternoon, in their first deadline deal of 2016.
This Kansas City Royals news was reported by numerous sources on Twitter, including USA Today reporter Bob Nightengale:
The 26-year-old Billy Burns is more of a speed guy than Brett Eibner, with 26 stolen bases in 2015 and 14 this season in 73 games with the Oakland A’s. While both Burns and the 27-year-old Eibner have both played in the major leagues this season, both players were on AAA rosters at the time of the swap.
Burns earned regular playing time for the Oakland A’s in 2015, slashing .294/.334/.392 with 18 doubles, 9 triples, 5 home runs and 26 stolen bases against 8 caught stealing in 555 plate appearances. He was also a solid defender who finished with a 0.8 dWAR (defensive Wins Above Replacement) in 2015 on his way to an impressive 2.8 bWAR (Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement) in his rookie season.
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However, Burns has struggled this season crashing to an ineffective .234/.270/.303 slash line in 2016 which triggered his demotion to AAA. But, at his best last season, the 5’9″ 170 pound Burns showed he is a switch-hitting lead-off hitter candidate that can play center-field with plus defense.
Rookie Brett Eibner, meanwhile, debuted with the KC Royals this season and is a more of a corner outfielder with pop. Eibner does have good speed and can play center, but isn’t the base-stealing threat that Burns is at his best. Eibner hit .231/.286/.423 in 85 plate appearances for the Kansas City Royals this season, including a walk-off hit that overcame a franchise record six-run ninth inning deficit for a win over Chicago that landed his jersey in the team’s Hall-Of-Fame after his second game.
While this trade is hardly a blockbuster, it does show that KC Royals general manager Dayton Moore would like to find a better lead-off option than Alcides Escobar. The Kansas City Royals lacked a true lead-off hitter outfielder type both on the big club and in the system. Whereas Eibner would face competition next season from corner outfielder Jorge Bonifacio who is excelling at AAA Omaha this season (.281/.347/481 with 15 HRs in 374 ABs) and is thought to possess more upside at age 23.
Also, the KC Royals could shift third base prospect Hunter Dozier (.307/.376/.555 and 21 HRs at AA and AAA) to the corner outfield since he’s blocked by both Cheslor Cuthbert and Mike Moustakas.
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This move give no indication if Moore has made a “buy” or “sell” decision at the deadline. This is more of a lateral move to exchange AAA outfielders and acquire a skill set that his system lacked. I doubt this is the last move he makes, and am interested to see what will follow in the next couple of days before August 1.