Last week the Royals dealt outfielder David DeJesus, who had been on the market since the trade deadline, to the Oakland Athletics for a pair of pitchers including Major Leaguer Vin Mazzaro and minor leaguer Justin Marks.
Initally, I was a bit shocked to see this. The last time I wrote about DeJesus, back in September, I was questioning what was taking the Royals so long too exercise DeJesus' 2011 option. Well, they did, finally. When DeJesus wasn't moved at the deadline, my guess was that the Royals would hold onto him until the deadline next year when I expected he'd have a bit more value.
Instead, GM Dayton Moore traded him to the A's for a backend starter and an interesting, if unproven A ball lefty. To say I expected the Royals to be capable of getting a better return for DeJesus, an affordable, consistent 3.0 WAR player is saying too little. I think they got hammered in this deal.
It's not that Mazzaro is a terrible pitcher - but he's completely uninspiring. His 4.27 ERA was largely the product of pitching in one of baseball's most pitcher friendly stadiums. His career strikeout (5.81), walk (3.75), homerun (1.31), and groundball (41.2%) are all below average, and weren't any better last year. As a soft throwing righty who will be 25 next year, he seems to have little upside.
The only benefit I see for the Royals is that they saved about 5.5m in the swap and perhaps finalized their opening day 2011 rotation. But for every benefit, there is an equal (or worse) drawback. First of all, if bringing in Mazzaro to finalize the rotation was a goal, they've now left themselves with a gaping hole in the outfield. Secondly, Moore has already made it clear he doesn't intend to reinvest that money and lastly, Mazzaro is pretty much the definition of a replacement level player.
The Royal's, who own baseballs best farm system should've been able to find someone easily capable of replicating his performance. If not from within, from the waiver wire or perhaps even the Rule V draft.
As for Marks, he is at least a somewhat intriguing. His rate stats in A ball were solid (good even), but given that he was drafted as a polished college pitcher finishing his junior season, his performance doesn't necessarily mean a ton. He's not a hard thrower, topping out in the low 90's and working 89-91 on the fastball, and doesn't show outstanding command. He might have a future in the back-end of the rotation or as a long reliever.
Realistically, the Royals just dealt one of their best players, and one of the leagues best trade chips for veritable peanuts. GM Dayton Moore deserves a ton of credit for building such a great farm system, but his free agent and trade philosophies continues to baffle me to no end.