Gregg Jefferies, a KC Royals lottery ticket

The Royals placed a bet on Jefferies. Was it worth it?
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Did the KC Royals trade for a bust or not?

December 11, 1991 is a date that lives in infamy for Royals fans of a certain age. On that date, the Royals sent arguably the best pitcher in franchise history, two-time Cy Young award winner and former World Series MVP Bret Saberhagen, along with utility infielder Bill Pecota, to the Mets for Jefferies, Kevin McReynolds, and Keith Miller.

Granted, Saberhagen never reached the same heights in his post-Royals days, and he struggled with injuries for the rest of his career, but he still had some very good seasons that outshone what the Royals received in return.

Miller was a throw-in. He stuck with Kansas City the longest, playing for the Royals through the 1995 season, but his impact was minimal. In four seasons with the club, he appeared in roughly the same amount of total games as Jefferies and McReynolds each played in their first season for the Royals.

McReynolds was the most established of the trio, and he was a solid left fielder for the Royals for the next two seasons. But that was also the catch with him. McReynolds was already at his ceiling, more or less, and no one expected him to make any great leaps. He was a perfectly serviceable everyday player and nothing more.

Jefferies, on the other hand, was the wild card in the deal. He was the lottery ticket who could singlehandedly make or break the Saberhagen deal. He had failed to break out in New York, but everyone knew his pedigree. The Royals hoped by getting him out of the pressure cooker of New York and providing him with a fresh start, Jefferies might finally tap into his full potential.

Unfortunately, it never happened. Jefferies manned third base and hit .285/.329/.404 with 10 home runs, 75 RBI, and 36 doubles. He always excelled at hitting doubles. This resulted in a .733 OPS and 103 OPS+. Hardly terrible, but not the game-changer the Royals were hoping for, as they went 72-90 and finished fifth in the AL West.