Royals rumors are flying that the Houston Astros are interested in Kansas City starting pitchers Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura. While trading Duffy might make sense due to the fact that he’s in the last year of his contract, moving the cost-controlled Ventura is a bad idea.
Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore has more work to do this offseason. He has replaced Kendrys Morales with another power bat in rising outfielder Jorge Soler. But, to do so he weakened his bullpen by trading away Wade Davis.
The improving bullpen was what Moore considered his no. 1 priority this winter.
Given that Moore clearly has little room to sign free-agents, KC Royals fans should expect more trades this winter. Moore’s peers around major-league baseball know this as well as I do. Hence, the Astros are interested in acquiring help for their starting rotation from Kansas City by dealing for either Duffy or Ventura.
However, executive producer Brandon Kiley of the Kevin Wheeler Show on 101 ESPN in St. Louis showed just how bad an idea trading 26-year-old Yordano Ventura would be for the Kansas City Royals:
This list comes from Ventura’s similarity scores on his Baseball-Reference page. OK, Bankhead, Wade Miller, and Joe Sparma pretty much turned into pumpkins after some early success. Ex-Cardinals pitcher Ernie Broglio notched the two best seasons of his career at age 26 and age 27, before fading for his last three years in the big leagues. Meanwhile, Jack Morris, Roy Halladay, Jack McDowell, and Gio Gonzalez all put up All-Star seasons at age 26 or later. Mike Torrez never was named to an All-Star team, but became one of MLB’s more consistent winners in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
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This list along, with Ventura’s outstanding stuff, make trading him a bad idea. He’s too likely to blossom into a top of the rotation pitcher. Plus, many of the above players were on the verge of their best seasons at age 26.
Royals Have Favorable Contract With Ventura
That’s not even considering Yordano Ventura’s contract. The Kansas City Royals can control him through his age 30 season in 2021 for a total of $44 million. The next three seasons come at reasonable rates of $3.4 million in 2017, $6.4 million in 2018, and $9.9 million in 2019. More than half of the amount comes in his final two option years at $12 million apiece.
If Ventura blossoms into an ace in the next three years, the KC Royals will have captured tremendous value. Even presuming no leap in his performance, Royals Review writer Shaun Newkirk estimates that his current contract yields $69 million in excess value compared to open market prices.
You don’t win in a small market giving up contracts like that. No wonder the Astros want to trade for Ventura.
Dayton Moore shouldn’t even consider moving Ventura without getting a princely return. However, looking at the Astros top prospects, I don’t see anyone likely to reach Ventura’s upside over the short-term. No. 1 prospect Francis Martes pitched at AA last season. Astros no. 2 and no. 3 prospects OF Kyle Tucker and P Forrest Whitley are both 19 year olds who haven’t played above High A. No. 4 prospect David Paulino got a cup of tea in Houston, but only posted a 5.14 ERA in 7.0 innings pitched.
If the Kansas City Royals were rebuilding, cashing in Ventura for a package of prospects might make sense. But, it’s a poor move when the team wants to make one final pennant run in 2017.