The Royals had two main targets as the trade deadline neared – Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist.
They got both in exchange for five minor league pitchers, including four lefties. On Sunday it was Cueto for Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cueto for Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed. Two days later, it was Zobrist for Royals No. 3 prospect, left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea and righty Aaron Brooks (who is starting for the A’s on Saturday).
Zobrist is in the lineup tonight in left field, batting sixth, taking the roster spot of Paulo Orlando, who hit just .220 (9/41) in his second stint with the team, although he did mash 3 HR. He’ll be back in September.
Zobrist, according to Yost, will be the left fielder until Alex Gordon returns. GM Dayton Moore says this is no indication that Alex Gordon will be out longer than expected. The timetable for his return is slated for the end of August/beginning of September. When Gordon returns, Zobrist (.268/.354/.447, 6 HR, 33 RBI) can shift all over the field, taking some AB’s away from Alex Rios in right field and Omar Infante at second. Zobrist could prove ultra-valuable in the World Series with his ability to play over. He has played AT LEAST 11 games at every position besides third base (and catcher). This is a player the Royals need. Zobrist ranks as one the most valuable players in baseball, according to WAR.
The Royals were already the Vegas favorites (7/2) to win the World Series. Then, they checked off the two guys off they had at the top of their checklist to improve the roster to win the World Series.
Well, then, I guess there’s only one thing left to do…
Conrad McGorkin says:
Being that I mentioned Zobrist as my personal favorite as a second trade target, I obviously love this trade, too. That said, I didn’t want to lose Manaea, but I tolerate it. Windows to win division titles, and a World Series aren’t open long and we, as Royals fans, know all too well that they may stay closed for extended periods.
I saw a lot of disgust on social media about Manaea being involved.
I’ve said it 1,738 (see what I did there?) times and I’ll say it again, “prospects come and go, flags fly forever.”
I’ve never understood the fascination with the next prospect. While it is obviously great to have talent within your organization at all levels, what evidence is there that Sean Manaea is the next big thing? He has been injury prone, and is described as “not an athlete.” He misses bats and has “potential” to be very good, but isn’t a potential divisional title and potential World Series championship pretty good, too? We don’t know what Manaea is or will be. He is certainly far from a “can’t miss” prospect in my opinion.
We know what Zobrist is. Among the current Royals, he is most comparable offensively to Alex Gordon. You know, the guy we all love.
Over the past two seasons, this is how they compare
- .270/.365/.440 47 2B, 30 HR, 113 RBI, 104 BB, 189 K
- .271/.354/.410 54 2B, 16 HR, 85 RBI, 108 BB, 110 K
Gordon hits the ball over the wall a little more and Zobrist strikes out less. Pretty similar otherwise. We needed another guy that draws walks. We needed a right-handed bat that has success vs. LHPs.
Zobrist vs. LHP career: .288/.366/.448. Zobrist vs. LHP past 2 seasons: .333/.401/.470
We needed a versatile fielder that can play just about anywhere on the diamond. Zobrist is all of those things.
The likelihood that this 2015 situation is the best position the Royals are in after 100 games, for the rest of our lifetimes, is very real. If I was told a week ago that we would have added Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist and that we would still have Raul Mondesi, Kyle Zimmer, Miguel Almonte, Hunter Dozier and Jorge Bonifaco, I’d have been excited. That’s what I am today. World Series title or not being the end result, the Royals are doing he right things. It’s gonna be another fun October either way. Because we’ll still be playing.
Sarah Davis says:
Eh… I was a little bit concerned that Dayton gave up his best pitching prospect in Manaea, but you do have to give up something of value to get something of value, and Zobrist provides a lot of versatility. Even though Ned Yost has already said that he would stick with Infante, I wouldn’t be shocked the see Zobrist out there when Gordon gets back.
Tom Hanken Says:
I could not be happier! The rich get richer! The Royals had two holes and filled them with their top two targets, and in doing so only gave up one of their Top 5 prospects (Finnegan is a top prospect but I didn’t count him because I consider him a part of the big league club, so semantics); if I told you two weeks ago that the Royals would be 22 games over and eight games up on the Twins and have just traded for Zobrist and Cueto all while keeping Zimmer, Starling, and Mondesi you would have been excited. I know I would have been. Yes, Manaea for Zobrist seems pricey, but I think it is necessary to capitalize on this season, and Manaea has a past of injuries. Zobrist fills several holes and adds great depth. As Royals fans, we have never had the opportunity to experience big boy baseball like this. I don’t think losing Brooks will hurt. Some project Finnegan and Reed as relievers, so it may be that the Royals only lose Manaea out of their future rotation. But, none of that matters and won’t matter if we take the crown this year. Isn’t it a fun feeling to be able to make plans in July for baseball in October?!?!
Justin Rhodes says:
I have mixed feelings about this trade. I really like the versatility that Zobrist brings to the table. The Royals have upgraded essentially their two weakest positions – RF and 2B – with one player, although he may not being player there until September. The downside is, I’m not completely sold that Ned can handle that juggling act. Will he be blinded by his loyalty or will he sit Infante and Rios if they continue to struggle at the plate?
My biggest problem is what we have to give up for three months for a 34-year old player. Losing Manaea is a tough pill to swallow. I know you have to give up something to get something, but the price tag seems a little steep. Even Billy Beane was surprised to get Manaea. That is pretty telling.
At the end of the day, the Royals are without question, a better and deeper team than they were a week ago with the additions of Cueto and Zobrist. We were able to acquire both without losing anyone off the MLB roster. We are all in for this year. The Royals realize that we have a small window to win it all and we are going for it. I love that!
Luke Goosen says:
While the cost is high, considering Sean Manaea was considered a Top 100 prospect in all of baseball by the majority of major prospect ratings, it signals a change in thinking from the front office and puts the Royals in strictly “Win Now” mode. By adding both Cueto and Zobrist at the cost of many of Dayton’s prized prospects, he is looking for production, and he wants it now. Moore has had his heart broken over prospects often not panning out at the big league level, and has now traded his prospects in the form of currency for the benefit of needed production now in the midst of one of if not the best season in Royals history. With many of the current Royals nearing the end of their contracts, the window for this current group may be small, and Dayton is showing he is all in.
As Royals fans, we owe him the benefit of the doubt since he has primarily been forced to operate on the other side of the spectrum, mostly dealing players for prospects. For once he gets the opportunity to be the team looking to improve for the playoffs. With the Royals currently leading the American League and owning a comfortable 8 game lead in the divisional standings, this shows that Dayton intends on placing his chips in the best position for playoff success. He could have most likely watched his team with the Central without much help, but now the Royals are somewhat of a juggernaut. Time will tell if the moves were worthwhile, but the best thing any general manager can do is to increase the odds and stack them in the favor of his team and Dayton Moore has certainly done that and then some.
World Series or bust.
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