photo by Minda Haas
First of all, if you haven’t read the first installment in the article by Greg Schaum about Wil Myers, you really have to. It’s excellent work and the rest will be coming out soon. He’s worked crazy hard on it and I’m excited to see what’s next in it. You can find it here.
While the timing is unfortunate due to Greg’s article, the rumors are swirling that the Royals may be willing to part with Wil Myers in their never ending quest to get the top of the rotation starter they have been seeking since parting with Zack Greinke. It’s very easy to scoff at the idea of trading the best prospect in the organization who plays a position where the Royals have an immediate need offensively, but I think it’s a good idea to step back and see what the ups and downs of trading Wil Myers would be. Of course, pros or ups isn’t exactly the right word to use because you hate to lose a guy like Myers, but there are some reasons why trading him wouldn’t be a terrible idea.
Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned before, the Royals are in this position because of an inability to develop starting pitching. Amid all the roster construction issues and loyalty jokes we’ve made about Dayton Moore, the reason the Royals have ultimately been unable to make real progress in the American League Central is the fact that in six seasons, Danny Duffy is the only starting pitcher of note drafted by the organization to make it to the big leagues. The numbers are still there for that to change and for the Royals to graduate a few pitchers to the big leagues in the next year or two, but I wouldn’t bet on it. So here we are, in a situation where the team needs to either spend money on the free agent market or trade something of value to get something of value. And right now, I think Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer are probably the two players in the organization with the most value to return what the Royals need.
Like I said before, my first thought when talking about trading Wil Myers is that the Royals have to hold onto him, but as I think deeper about it, I realize there are reasons why it might actually make sense. And it will hurt, but the Royals are in a situation where if they want to pick up that top of the rotation guy, they’re going to have to deal for it rather than develop it. So let’s start with some reasons why trading Wil Myers makes sense and is actually okay.
- The first thing that pops into my head is the fact that Wil Myers is a prospect and has yet to succeed at the big league level. I recognize and agree that this is something we should have had an opportunity to see, but we didn’t, so we just don’t know. And I”m not sure any fan base knows better than Royals fans that prospects don’t always pan out. We’ve seen it time and time again over the last 20 years or so. I understand that each prospect is different and that development curves aren’t necessarily the same player to player, but I think every organization needs to understand that prospects sometimes don’t work and if you can get a legitimate big league player for one, you really have to consider it. I didn’t say do it, but you have to think about it.
- If the Royals can’t find a way to get seven innings from their starters more than twice every two weeks, they need to help the rotation. If trading Wil Myers allows the Royals to pick up a starter who they control for four or more seasons, then it might be worth the hit the offense will take in that time period. I think Wil Myers is going to be a special hitter and I’ll get into that in the reasons why trading him seems ridiculous, but I just don’t see how this team can do more than win 83 or 84 games without some serious starting pitching included.
- It’s easier to find 75% of the production of the potential of Wil Myers than it is to find 75% of the production of a starting pitcher that we could see as the return in a possible trade. Like I said, I believe Wil Myers will be a special player, but let’s say he’s a .300/.400/.525 guy. You look at a guy like Cody Ross who put up an .807 OPS last season for the Red Sox. That’s not nearly as good as Wil Myers’ potential, but guys like him can be had to replace the production. If Myers brings back a pitcher who can slot at the top of many rotations, he’s a guy with a 3.25-3.50 FIP and I think that’s just a little more valuable as I go back to my second point.
As you can see, I had to stretch a little with that third point, but I do believe it to at least some extent. I’m already leaning toward going back to hating the idea of trading Wil Myers, but there are definitely reasons why it makes sense for the Royals. Here’s why it doesn’t.
- Right handed bats with the potential of Wil Myers simply do not come around every day. And then when you think about adding him to a lineup with three lefty bats in Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas and two righty bats in Billy Butler and Salvador Perez, you start to see an offense that could provide some of the best balance in the game. We all joke about Ned Yost’s desire to have a left/right/left/right lineup, but if everybody takes steps forward, it would be really tough to navigate through that Royals lineup using bullpen specialists. If the Royals are going to compete, they need to make life difficult for their opponents and that kind of lineup balance does it. Plus, right-handed bats like Wil Myers are difficult to find.
- I think Wil Myers is a superstar just waiting to emerge and I’m not the only one with that opinion. His mindset and ability combined make me believe that he’s going to become one of the very best players in baseball. He could very easily be the face of the franchise, which means a lot to a lower revenue team like the Royals. As much as the Royals want to sell that they can build around Hosmer both on and off the field, I think Myers is really the guy Kansas City relates to. And I think he might be the better hitter, too.
- You’re running a big risk by trading him for a pitcher. Just as we know as well as anybody what can happen with prospects, we also know what can happen to pitchers. They get hurt. Far too many of them get hurt and find themselves either out for a significant period of time, thus nullifying their value, but sometimes they come back as different pitchers. The reason many people believe you should always draft a position player in the first round of the draft is because position players bust far less often than pitchers. There’s just so much that can happen to a pitcher even after getting to the big leagues and having success that it just provides a big risk. Possibly too big of a risk to to lose their best prospect and a guy who can be a fixture in the middle of their order for years to come.
- This isn’t necessarily about Wil Myers, but I’m not entirely sure I trust the Royals front office to make this trade and make it well. If the Royals are going to be able to trade Wil Myers for a guy like David Price (obviously more would be involved), sure I’d do it in a heartbeat, but I feel like it’d be more for a guy like Jeremy Hellickson. I like Hellickson just fine, but he’s not worth the potential of Wil Myers, no matter how starved the Royals are for pitching. Maybe it’s irrational, but I think the package Dayton Moore would trade Wil Myers for might make us shake our head for years.
Ultimately, like every trade, it comes down to the return. If it’s someone like the aforementioned Price (it won’t be), you have to do it because he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. If it’s a guy who is likely a number three starter, then it’s going to make me gag a little if it happens. And finally, if it’s someone in between, well, I have to say without knowing what the return is that I’d predict the Royals would lose that trade in the long run. I’ll say it again. I think Wil Myers is special. I know the Royals need pitching, but they have a deep enough system that they should be able to get creative and not give up their top prospect and potentially one of their best trading chips unless they’re overwhelmed to the point that it’s probably beyond the value of Myers. The next couple of weeks will be very interesting in how the future of the franchise is shaped. Let’s just hope they make the right call.
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