Trade Wil Myers? History Suggests Royals Wouldn’t Get Enough In Return Reviewed by Momizat on . I read an interesting Baseball Prospectus piece last week regarding the possibility of the Royals trading Wil Myers. The most intriguing part was the list of pr I read an interesting Baseball Prospectus piece last week regarding the possibility of the Royals trading Wil Myers. The most intriguing part was the list of pr Rating:
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Trade Wil Myers? History Suggests Royals Wouldn’t Get Enough In Return

Trade Wil Myers? History Suggests Royals Wouldn’t Get Enough In Return

I read an interesting Baseball Prospectus piece last week regarding the possibility of the Royals trading Wil Myers. The most intriguing part was the list of prospects who were traded within three years of receiving a top 10 ranking from Baseball America. Since the winter meetings rumor mill has heated up and Myers is the Royals’ best trade chip, it seems timely to use that article to figure out what the Royals might be able to get in return.

I should point out that I would not trade Myers unless the return was incredible. I mean David Price or Felix Hernandez incredible. Even then, it would be a tough trade to pull the trigger on. If Myers is as good as we all think he is, it would be tough to give up three cost-controlled years and three arbitration years of premium offense for any pitcher. I feel reasonably confident the Royals feel the same way. I’ve said before that I’m open to trading prospects for quality starting pitching, but Myers is the one prospect I would not want to deal. In addition to the salary reasons, Myers is the one Royals prospect left who I would expect to make an immediate impact in the majors (Jake Odorizzi is the second-closest, but even if makes the Opening Day rotation, it’s probably going to be as a fifth starter). Trading a package of prospects from the next wave of talent wouldn’t be felt for years at the major-league level, and who knows what could happen in the meantime?

That said, if it happened…Baseball Prospectus listed 23 trades going back to 1990 where a top-10 prospect was traded within three years of getting that ranking. I won’t discuss all 23, but some of them are instructive.

The most recent trade on the list happened almost a year ago, when Jesus Montero went from the Yankees to the Mariners for pitcher Michael Pineda. This trade shows the perils of trading a prospect for pitching; while Montero did not have a particularly good year, at least he played. Pineda tore his rotator cuff before ever throwing a regular-season pitch for the Yankees, and won’t be back on the mound until well into next year. But, going off this trade, assuming the Royals weren’t totally snakebit for once, they could expect to get a talented young pitcher, but one with only one major league season under his belt. I personally would like a longer track record if I were making that deal.

The next deal is more intriguing: Colby Rasmus and three players to Toronto for Edwin Jackson and three players in 2011. This ended up being a great trade for the Cardinals, as it sparked them to a World Series title. But while I would love to see Edwin Jackson in a Royals uniform, there is no way I would give up Wil Myers for him.

Moving on, there were two such trades in 2007: Tampa Bay sending Delmon Young and two others to Minnesota for Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza and a minor leaguer, and Detroit sending two top-10s (Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller) and four other players to Florida for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. If the Royals could get the pitching equivalent of Cabrera, that would be a trade worth making. And while Garza and Bartlett played big roles in making the Rays winners, once again that doesn’t seem like a good enough return for Myers.

Another interesting example: in 2005, Hanley Ramirez was dealt (with Anibal Sanchez!) and two others to Florida, with Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota. This might be the best-case scenario on this list. However, when this trade was made, Beckett wasn’t really the ace he would become in the next few years. He had been solid, but he really blossomed in Boston. Also, this trade was driven in large part by Beckett’s impending free agency. If the Royals traded for a pitcher in a similar situation, they would be hard-pressed to retain him.

And so it goes, on down the list. Besides the above trades, the only one on the list where a position player was traded for a top-flight pitcher was in 2000, when Arizona sent Travis Lee and three others to Philadelphia for Curt Schilling. But I would argue that Myers has a higher ceiling than Lee did (by then, Lee had been in the majors for 2+ seasons and was already viewed as a disappointment, as I recall).

Maybe if the Royals were one good pitcher away from World Series contention, trading Myers for James Shields or some other pitcher with one or two years left on his contract would make sense. As you can see, that sort of trade has paid off in the past for teams in that position. But this team is really just trying to compete in a weak division (with the caveat that yes, if you get in the playoffs, anything can happen). To me, that says trading Myers is a mistake.

The bottom line from this exercise is: if the Royals want a true ace, they will have to develop one. Teams that have a pitcher like that already are going to be extremely hesitant to trade them for a position player, unless they are absolutely desperate for a bat. So while it is at least possible for the Royals to pry David Price away from Tampa Bay, or something similar, it is highly unlikely. And yes, I wish I had had this information available before I wrote this. In the meantime, if the Royals truly want to compete, they are likely going to have to spend on pitching and hope for the best.

About The Author

I grew up in Topeka, and learned to love the Royals over many summer nights listening to Denny and Fred. Of course, the Royals were much easier to love back then. They got their claws in me some 30 years ago, then they went to the playoffs in 1984 and won it all in 1985. And I thought to myself, "This is easy. This team is always going to be good!" Sigh. But what can I say? If I've made it this far, I suppose I will always be a fan. But whenever they get good again, I'll be sure not to take it for granted. I promise. I'm also a fan of the Chiefs, Jayhawks (even the football team), Sporting KC, and the Nashville Predators. By day, I'm a mild-mannered project manager for a publishing company, and every night I'm lucky to come home to my amazing wife Michelle. We've been married since 2005 and live in Overland Park. Fun fact, she grew up in Memphis watching many future Royals when Kansas City's AA team was there. So it didn't take much to make a Royals fan out of her. We don't have kids, but we've got three cats (one named after Alex Gordon) and a dog. Follow me on Twitter! @Darin_Watson

Number of Entries : 480

Comments (2)

  • Darin Watson

    Thanks for the kind words! I do think with Santana and Guthrie in the fold they are off to a good start. I’m not too sold on Jurrjens–he’s had an alarming drop in velocity the last couple of years. I suppose if they gave him a one-year, low-money contract he’d be worth a chance, but they’re probably better off going after a more known quantity.

  • unclejesse

    Good article Darin. I think the trouble for the Royals is, when you are the one trying to make a trade happen, unless you meet the stupidest person in the room, you are going to get less back then what you really want. The best position to be in is when you hold all the chips and people come to you to make trades. I said it in another comment a couple of weeks ago, I think the Royals want to sell tickets and what sells tickets is winning a 7-6 game not having the stud pitcher go 8 innings and winning 1-0. The baseball pureists might not agree but the lay baseball fan that buys the bulk majority of tickets like the 7-6 game and cold beer way better. Thus with that said the Royals need to stock pile good pitchers (not great) and guys that can crush the crud out of the ball. Will Myers must stay in order for that to happen. what does everyone think about Jair Jurjjens? If we are willing to gamble that Santana will have a bounce back year why not do the same with Jair who has a pretty good track record minus last year. Love the stuff from all the guys at PTP keep it up!

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