The six-player deal sees the Brewers getting Zack Greinke, Yuniesky Betancourt, and $2 million in cash to cover the 2012 buyout for Batter Nine You Sucky's option after the 2011 season. In return, the Royals are receiving Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jake Odorizzi.
My initial thought is, "Jesus, Zack can't catch a break. Yuni is gonna be killing him at short again?"
Unlike some, I can't say I blame Greinke for wanting to be traded to a team that is competitive. With the previous addition of Shaun Marcum, the Brewers have bolstered what had frankly been a shitty rotation. Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Marcum, Randy Wolf, and possibly Chris Narveson in the five slot. If Narveson is your third starter you can probably write off 2011, even in the relatively weak NL Central. This definitely changes things for Milwaukee, putting them right in the hunt (on paper). Clearly, this is what Zack wanted. One would imagine that this is also largely why he elected not to go to Washington, who have Jordan Zimmermann and then no one in their rotation.
As things look right now, this appears to have been the best package the Royals had been offered for Greinke thus far. Whether or not that is actually enough is certainly debatable, but it would appear as though the Rangers were unwilling to part with Martin Perez and the Jays were not going to give them Kyle Drabek and Travis Snider. From all the unsubstantiated rumblings, it appears as though this was the best package on the table for the Royals as well as Greinke.
What did Dayton Moore get back exactly? Well, there are now three new players on the 40-man roster. Alcides Escobar was the 12th-ranked prospect on Baseball America's Top 100 list heading into 2010, which was coincidentally where MLB.com had him ranked. Keith Law was decidedly less bullish on Escobar, who he had ranked 54th overall last off-season. Heading into last year, I was pretty bullish about Escobar, whose glove was said to be very good and had begun to show signs of life at the plate.
He promptly disappointed at the plate and had a statistically middling season with the glove. He was a 0.6 WAR (FanGraphs' calculations) player, owing largely to his defense. Given his speed and 21.5 LD %, one can probably assume he was unreasonably unlucky in 2010 as he had a meager .264 BABIP. His career ML BB% is too low at 5.8%, but he is still a marked improvement from Betancourt at short, is only 24, and can't really be worse than he was last season. Dayton Moore has apparently confirmed that this will move Christian Colon off short now, which is probably for the best, and turns second base into an organizational position of strength with Colon, Johnny Giavotella, and injury prone Jeff Bianchi filling out the depth chart at the upper levels of the minors. One of those three almost has to hit at the big league level.
As far as Lorenzo Cain is concerned, John Sickels had this to say about him in October:
I don't expect Cain to hit .300+ every year, but I can see him as a consistent .270-.290 hitter with some seasons that get beyond that. If he boosts is isolated patience a bit, maintains his polish on the bases, his offensive and defensive skills will make him quite valuable.As much as it blows to be relieved that Cain should unseat the newly-acquired previously-apparent starter in center field, Melky Cabrera, we can hopefully rest at ease next year with Moore having a reasonable out in telling The Melk Man to go screw, and that he's no longer the starter in left. He also has been mentioned (I honestly cannot remember where I saw this) as a potential candidate to lead off, which probably isn't a good thing, but who else on this godawful team should be? Chris Getz? While we may not have gotten to see Dyson manning center on Opening Day, Cain's plus glove and more developed bat logically force him into the starting lineup.
The pitcher with the most upside in the deal is 20-year-old righty Jake Odorizzi, who posted 10.1 K/9 in low-A ball, and has a career 9.4 mark with a 3.40 K/BB. Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus slots Odorizzi in at the ninth slot in the Royals' stacked farm system, and fifth amongst starting pitchers. According to Goldstein, he was the top starting pitcher in the Brewers' farm and would be a top three prospect in almost any other organization. Granted, he is not that advanced, but if his ceiling is that of a borderline Number Two pitcher, he has me the most excited of all of the players in the deal.
This leaves Jeremy Jeffress, who is more likely to grace the cover of High Times than Sports Illustrated. Goldstein had Odorizzi as a top 101 prospect. Jeffress slots in right ahead of Odorizzi at the #8 spot in his revised Royals prospect rankings. Heading into 2009, he was #100 on Baseball America's list. He has a career minor-league K/9 of 10.6 and was not converted to the bullpen until 2010. His fastball has been clocked at 102 MPH. He also was reported to have been added to Milwaukee's 40-man roster to avoid his expulsion from the game, as he has been suspended twice in the minors (first time for 50 games, second for 100) for pot use. MLBPA members are no longer tested for marijuana, hence the addition to the 40-man.
Honestly, I don't really give a damn about the marijuana usage. I am surprised that the same GM who jettisoned Danny Gutierrez* and Daniel Cortes for their character issues didn't care in this instance. I'd imagine the inclusion of Jeffress comes with one of two motives: (1) Moore is planning on turning around and packaging Jeffress, possibly with one of their glut of outfielders (read: Alex Gordon) for something else he perceives as a need, or (2) Jeffress promised to find Jesus and go to church with GMDM every Sunday.
*Gutierrez was for pot use, if I remember correctly.
Jeffress did advance all the way to Milwaukee this past season, and he does project to be a very strong reliever, and could join Tiny Tim Collins as highly touted prospects breaking camp with the big league club*.
*This is, of course, unless his second suspension has not been served to completion yet.
Now, what this means for the Royals in 2011 isn't that much different. With Zack Greinke, they were going to be terrible. Without him, they will be fucking terrible. Can anyone see the Royals not being a 105-loss team? That should net them the top pick of the 2012 draft. I guess if 2011 was already lost, why not get the first pick of the draft out of it?
The Royals are going to be really hard to watch next year. They should be defensively improved, and maybe that will begin to negate the loss of Greinke. As Moore had intimated a few weeks ago, he expects Everett Teaford and Danny Duffy to compete for the fifth-starter job. If no outside players are brought in to supplement the pitching staff, one would assume that Teaford, whose arbitration clock need not be delayed for cost-saving purposes, would be that fifth starter.
This move is not about 2011, though. In the long run, this does probably make them better in 2013. Maybe Moore could have gotten more for Greinke. I know I wish he did, but unfortunately this seems to have been the best deal of the bunch. At the very least, this deal looks better right now than the Johan-Santana-to-the-Mets and C.C.-Sabathia-to-the-Brewers deals look in retrospect. It is hard to be overly excited about this deal, but I really don't know what else to say other than that it happened.
To make room on the 40-man roster, Joaquin Arias was designated for assignment, potentially joining Lance Zawadzki on the list of players I have needlessly written about in the offseason because they have been DFAd before ever donning a Royals uniform. Phil Humber is the other Royal who has been DFAd to make room for the Royals rash of recent moves. All three were expendable.