Last off-season, in a six-player deal, the Royals acquired center fielder prospect Lorenzo Cain as one of four players from the Brewers in the Zack Greinke deal. He was expected to make the team out of spring training. But didn’t. Then he was expected to be called up soon, but Melky Cabrera was in the midst of a career-year, and Cain, who was considered the main piece of the Greinke trade, spent all but a handful of games in late September, in AAA Omaha.
Cain will not be blocked any longer. Today, the Royals dealt Melky Cabrera to the Giants for left handed starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez, and throw-in minor leaguer Ryan Verdugo.
Sanchez, 28, battled injuries last season that limited him to 19 starts but made at least 29 starts in each of the three previous seasons. He was 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA in 2010 while helping the Giants win the World Series. He also pitched for Puerto Rico in the Baseball. Sanchez has a career record 38-46 record and a 4.26 ERA.
“He’s a very dynamic left-handed pitcher,” Royals GM Dayton Moore said. “His hit rates are very low, his strikeout rates are very high, his walks aren’t something we’re overly excited about, but at the same time he’s very young. He’s somebody our scouts feel is a breakout candidate moving forward into 2012.”
Sanchez struggled with injuries most of this season and his numbers were affected, going 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA before missing the final month.
“He’s a solid No. 3 starter on a championship-type club,” Moore said. “When you look at this guy’s strikeout rate, his swing-and-miss rate is among the very best in the game, so that’s something for us to build on and we’re excited to make him a part of this team.”
Verdugo, 24, was 8-6 with a 4.35 ERA last season in 25 starts for Class AA Richmond. He will be assigned to Class AAA Omaha.
Ryan Verdugo‘s career minor league stats: 243.1 Inn, 4.5 BB/9, 11.1 K/9, 0.7 HR/9 1.262 WHIP
Cabrera, 27, resurrected his career for the Royals last season, batting .305 with 44 doubles and 18 homers while scoring 102 runs and driving in 87, all career highs. He was the first Royals player with at least 200 hits in a season since 2000.
Moore said the deal made sense for both sides. Their salaries are about the same and both players are eligible for free agency after the 2012 season. The Giants had a surplus of starting pitchers, and the Royals want to give Cain, who batted .312 with 16 homers and 81 RBIs in 128 games, a shot as the everyday center fielder in 2012. Cain, 25, has a career .302 average in 169 major-league at-bats over the last two seasons.
“It was very important for us to free up an opportunity for Lorenzo Cain to play center field for us every day,” Moore said. “We felt we needed to move on this deal with Jonathan Sanchez before it moved away.”
Cain was mentioned in Royals and Braves trade talk over the weekend. The Braves were interested in Cain and Royals top position prospect, 20-year-old outfielder Wil Meyers in return for starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens and IF/LF Martin Prado. That deal appears likely to be thrown in the trash now. I dont see the Royals trading Melky and Cain and leaving a serious void in center field.
The Braves attempted to pry Cain from both the Brewers and Royals last offseason.
This is a great move by the Royals, who’s used Cabrera’s career to sell high, getting their biggest need is starting pitching.
the Royals’ starters still logged the third-fewest innings of any staff in the American League and their combined 4.45 ERA was also the third-worst in the American League, ahead of only Minnesota and Baltimore.