Couple of trades in MLB

Two trades were made today.

The M’s traded Yuniesky Betancourt to the Royals for two minor league pitchers, Danny Cortes and Derrick Saito. Baseball America has Cortes rated as the third best prospect in the Royals’ system in their ‘09 Handbook, saying he has “the ingredients to become a frontline starter.” Saito doesn’t appear in the top 30. Cortes, the prize in the deal, has taken a bit of a step back this year in AA, with a 58 strikeouts and 50 walks in 80 innings. However, he is still a somewhat promising prospect.

The point is, he’s somebody. And I don’t think you trade someone of potential value for Yuni Betancourt.  Betancourt has been worth a total of 3.3 WAR in his 2206 MLB plate appearances. That’s like .9 WAR for a full season (600 PA), or not very good. Since the start of the 2008 season, he’s –.5 WAR, so he’s trending downwards after two serviceable seasons in ‘06 and ‘07. He’s a guy who, at best, is probably like a 1 WAR player. More likely, he’s not even that good.

Betancourt makes $3 million next year, $4 million in 2011, and he has a $6 million option for 2012 (with a $2 mil. buyout). There’s a pretty good chance he won’t be worth that much. This isn’t a terrible, franchise crippling trade or anything like that, but I’d definitely give a win to the Mariners on this one (and a subsequent “loss” to the Royals). And I’m generally very hesitant in declaring winners and losers on trades.

In the other trade, the Mets acquire cash (and Jeff Francoeur) for outfielder Ryan Church. Church, who is arbitration eligible for the next two seasons, is a pretty decent ballplayer. He’s probably on the good side of average if you give him an everyday job. In a platoon situation, he’s probably better than that (though, he loses value for not playing daily).

Francoeur is also under team control through the 2011 season. He is, quite simply, not as good as Church. Over the past two seasons, he’s been two wins below replacement level. Sure, he’s had a couple of fine seasons in the past, and he undoubtedly has some athletic ability, but the guy has been awful of late. He probably has more upside than Church, but more than likely Church will be the more valuable player in this trade. Nice pickup for the Braves.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Per the M’s blog Bleeding Blue and Teal (but now renamed Pro Ball NW), here’s some interesting notes on Saito:

    Saito is a tiny (5′9/155) low minors reliever who profiles as a LOOGY for now. No need to worry about him now, but he has a chance to become something useful. <– that was a bit of an understatement. Saito misses bats like crazy and generates great velocity with a motion that reminiscent of Tim Lincecum from the first base viewpoint. He also has a plus curve and a plus change. He has the stuff to start, but the only reason he’s been a reliever thus far is his size. The Mariners need to take a chance on him in the starting rotation in the off chance they’ve acquired a lefty Lincecum-light.

    Very intriguing and he might be the guy I am more interested in in this deal.

  2. Posted by Myron on July 11, 2009 at 1:40 am

    Thanks for the link, Mike. Perhaps I glossed over Saito a little too quickly. Still, I’d worry about that size. But as you say, he looks pretty intriguing. If anything, just makes it a better deal for Seattle.

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