As I begin writing this piece, a deal has not been finalized. That being said, rumors have been swirling surrounding a deal with the Chicago White Sox that would potentially send Mark Teahen packing. In return, the Royals are purported to be receiving second baseman Chris Getz and third baseman Josh Fields.
Continuing on under the assumption that this deal ends up getting completed, my initial reaction is a bit on the tepid side. Dave Cameron makes the very valid point that the move frees up about $5 million that Mark Teahen is more than likely going to end up making after going through arbitration. The Royals certainly shouldn't be paying a player who is simply a league-average hitter that kind of money in this economic climate.
As Royals fans, we have a pretty good grasp on who Mark Teahen is. When looking at the pieces Moore may be acquiring, one would hardly say they are sexy.
At a glance, Getz would only seem to be a marginal defensive upgrade at second base from the horrid Alberto Callaspo. In 2009 (and I do not have John Dewan's Fielding Bible, so this analysis is sorely lacking), Getz held a 5.0 RF/9 to Callaspo's 4.4. Callaspo's -7.5 UZR/150 was only slightly worse than -6.7 that Getz managed. Their Fielding Percentages: Callaspo .973, Getz .986.
Offensively, Callaspo was the best second baseman in the Central, as detailed here, so it is not his bat that needs replacing. While it was only his rookie season, Getz does not have a bat that can be instantly inserted into even the Royals' measly lineup and do much of anything that Callaspo cannot do.
The one thing that Getz does bring to the table is an element of speed, as his 25 steals in 27 attempts are testament to. Whether or not Getz brings anything to the table past having an actual Major League player on the Royals' Major League roster come Spring Training is debatable, but he did make $401,000 last year and is not yet arbitration eligible.
Of slight consolation, while Getz' Major League career split of .262/.323/.346/.669 is underwhelming, his minor league experience (.286/.362/.380/.742) would indicate that he can get on-base at the very least. While it would appear that there is little to no power, he is just 26 years old, so there is not a zero percent chance that he ever hits for middling power, positionally speaking.
As for Josh Fields, it would appear that hopes for a replication of his 2007 power explosion are about as likely as Mark Teahen returning to the hallowed ground that he stepped into in 2006.
Unfortunately for the Royals, Fields is yet another OBP-deficient bat. Despite his 23 home runs in 418 plate appearances in 2007, Fields' OPS+ was a mere 101, largely because he walked an alarmingly low 35 times. That was good for an OBP of .308.
Insofar as his defense is concerned, let's just say his glove not be forcing the admittedly sub-par glove of Alex Gordon to another spot on the diamond. The last season in which Fields logged a significant amount of playing time at third, he had an RF/9 of 2.7 and a UZR/150 of -13.9. By comparison, Teahen's RF/9 at third in 2009 was 2.5 and his UZR/150 was -10.9, while Gordon had an RF/9 of 2.6 and a UZR/150 of -3.6 in his regressive 2008. No matter the position (he has also logged nominal time in left and at first), Fields is below average.
In short, Fields is your typical free-swinging power-hitter who brings little to the plate past his prodigious power and brings nothing to the field. It is a little unfair to look at his offensive numbers from the past two seasons, as he's garnered a whopping 93 games played since his 2007 breakout, but he is sporting a paltry .214/.292/.328/.621 line in that time.
Perhaps a change of scenery will do Fields good. He did talk of leaving baseball last off-season, so he clearly hasn't been happy. Whether or not that dissatisfaction can be traced to playing in Chicago cannot be unequivocally answered, but his mere $410,000 salary is meager enough that the Royals can afford to take chance on him. Especially since Fields is not yet arbitration eligible as well.
What this boils down to is the Royals cutting costs while acquiring marginal Major League talent with discernible upside. Unlike the Mike Jacobs acquisition at this time last year, this deal makes financial sense.
With their payroll stretched thin as it is, perhaps Moore has learned a lesson or two from last year's disastrous off-season (Greinke extension notwithstanding).
Moreover, hopefully the acquisition of Fields shows that Mike Jacobs will be sent packing. After all, he is basically Mike Jacobs at a tenth of the price tag. Combined, Fields and Getz will likely earn one-fifth of what Teahen is likely to get in arbitration.Now, whether or not Trey Hillman would actually be able to utilize Fields and Getz properly is another beast entirely, but if this deal gets completed the Royals have successfully gotten legitimate talent back for an average hitter who would be making entirely too much money next season. With as much irresponsibly allocated money as was committed to the likes of Kyle Farnsworth and Yuniesky Betancourt, these kind of cost-cutting measures need to be taken, and Mark Teahen is probably not an irreplaceable piece of the Royals' puzzle.
At the very least, this would mean "Superhero" (the theme song from "Entourage", which was presumably chosen because Kevin Connolly is Mark Teahen's doppelganger) would not be heard at the K, a future I am personally all right with.