The story of the Royals terrible, no good, very bad trade

*and this has nothing to do with Brandon Maurer

If you have been following along with the moves involved in this year’s trading deadline, you probably saw this trade between the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox that broke on Twitter this afternoon.

Why would a trade not involving the Royals be brought up on this Royals site? Well, if you remember a three-team deal involving the Royals, White Sox, and Dodgers early January, you’ll remember that two of the Royals more valuable relievers in 2017, Scott Alexander and Joakim Soria, were essentially tied together in the deal. Joakim Soria had a nine-million dollar salary for 2018 that the Royals thought needed to be dumped. There were so many things wrong with that in itself, that I had to take a whole post to blab about it on Royals Review last month.

Adding in the million-dollar buyout on Soria’s contract, his worth versus his actual salary ends up pretty close ($24,300,00 vs $25,00,000), even with a disappointing first year on the contract that attributed his worth to zero dollars for that season. Break it into more recent terms, and his worth is $24,300,000 against an actual salary of $17,000,000. Looking at the season he was coming off at the time of the trade, the worth was $13,300,000 while the actual salary was $8,000,000. So from a numerical standpoint, the contract was about right on point with value expectations and arbitrarily factoring out the first season, the last two seasons of the contract were closer to bargains than disappointments. This is why the salary dump idea misses me.

And to make matters worse, the Royals attached one of their more valuable trade assets in Scott Alexander, flipping him to the Dodgers. What’s even more frustrating is that for the majority of the season, Scott Alexander has been one of the better relievers in all of baseball this year. After a rough April and quick demotion to AAA, he’s owned a 2.27 ERA, 2.63 FIP, and a 77.8 percent GB-rate in 35.2 innings. And he has another 4 1/2 years of control. That should cost plenty on the trade market.

Instead of getting a noteworthy haul for Alexander, the Royals main return piece was Trevor Oaks. Before I dog on this side of the trade, I should say I like Trevor Oaks as a prospect. He might be the Royals best starting pitching prospect in the upper-minors and he’s in the middle of a very successful season in Omaha. With that being said, the Royals clearly should have gotten more for Alexander. They didn’t because they attached nine-million dollars (Joakim Soria) in the package they sent away with him. What makes this even more frustrating is that this looked like an attempt to quickly gather money to up their chances at signing Eric Hosmer, a move that is easily questionable in itself.

Now I can get to the part on why this is relevant. As you may have seen, the Chicago White Sox traded Joakim Soria to the Milwaukee Brewers today. The return was two pitching prospects, one a former first round pick in the middle of a good season in AA, another one that is in rookie ball, also having a good season.

To cut straight to it, let’s compare the two trades involving Joakim Soria.

  • What the selling team sent
    • Royals: Scott Alexander, Joakim Soria, $9 million
    • White Sox: Joakim Soria
  • Years of control the selling team sent out
    • Royals: 6 years
    • White Sox: 1/2 year
  • Previous/current season WAR the selling team sent out
    • Royals: 2.8 fWAR
    • White Sox: 1.4 fWAR

Across the board, the Royals seem to sending out more during their trade in January than the recent White Sox deal. An additional player, 5.5 years (!!!) more of control, double the WAR. The problem was, the Royals went the wrong way about this deal, treating it as a quick effort to gather money via salary dump in Soria’s salary, effectively putting in a major dent in the return they received. Heading back to my recent piece at Royals Review, here were my thoughts on how this should have been handled.

  1. The obvious: shop Soria to multiple suitors. Shouldn’t be hard, bullpen pieces are highly valued in this age of the game.

  2. Find said suitor, offer to eat all of the money left on Soria’s contract, therefore strengthening your return. Do not salary dump.

  3. If for some reason an ideal trade option doesn’t surface, I guess trying again at the trade deadline wouldn’t be terrible.

The return should have easily succeeded what the White Sox just got for Soria. And somehow, with one less player, half the WAR, and 5.5 less years of control, the White Sox got more.

  • What the selling team acquired
    • Royals: Trevor Oaks, Erick Mejia
    • White Sox: Kodi Medeiros, Wilber Pérez

I don’t expect the casual Royals fan to be very familiar with the Brewers farm system, so I fill you in on the two prospects acquired for Soria with some quotes and numbers.

Kodi Medeiros, LHP, AA: 103.1 IP, 3.14 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 9.3 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 48.7% GB%

While Medeiros’s control took a step forward in 2017, his low arm slot and lack of a third pitch continue to render it likely that he becomes a reliever. His fastball sits 91-94 — up from the 90-92 scouts saw from Medeiros as he was wearing down last year — and he’ll flash a plus slider, but his arm slot allows righties to see the ball early and he doesn’t yet have a viable changeup to disrupt their timing. He could be a dominant LOOGY, especially if his fastball plays up out of the bullpen, as I have it projected.

Medeiros’ control continues to be below average, but he was markedly better in that regard in ’17, issuing a career-best 3.7 walk per nine innings, down from 6.7 the previous year. The jury is still out on whether he can remain a starter long term with his unique arm slot and underwhelming control profile.If he can’t, he could have impact potential in a big league bullpen.

Wilber Pérez, RHP, DSL: 40.1 IP, 2.01 ERA, 2.44 FIP, 10.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 35.2% GB%

Probably more of a lottery ticket guy. He’s old for his level and he’s still in the DSL, so that hurts his prospect status.

I know the return doesn’t seem overwhelming, but it looks better than the one the Royals got this January. I’ll get really hypothetical here, but to gauge more of an idea on the return the Royals could have gotten for Soria, let’s see who Medeiros, the main piece, would stack up in the Royals organizational rankings.

A 40 FV prospect like Medeiros is nothing to get thrilled about, but there is no question on his raw ability and the ceiling that comes with it. Considering that the Royals don’t have many pitchers above 40 FV in their system, you could easily make a case that he would be as high as a top 10 prospect for the Royals. While Oaks, who is a sub-40 FV prospect, currently ranks 20th in the system, according to MLB Pipeline.

Like I said above, I like Trevor Oaks. I’m probably bullish on him. But the Royals should have gotten more. Way more than what the White Sox got if they trade Alexander and Soria separately and don’t add money to the equation.

A bad trade like this shouldn’t be one to set an organization back years and years. It isn’t even the worst trade the Royals have made in recent history (looking at you Padres). But out of every trade in this regime run, the thought process behind this one might easily be the most laughable. It was laughable in the beginning, it’s even more laughable now. Terrible, terrible principle.

The best part too is tons of people could see this coming, including myself.

I don’t want to go out blaming anyone here, because I simply don’t know enough to do so. It could have been David Glass demanding to shed money, it could have simply been poor thinking from Dayton Moore, it could have been Scott Boras and Eric Hosmer pressuring the Royals and their payroll. None of them serve as an excuse though. Someone forced an ill-advised trade.

Photo Credits: Ronald Martinez—Getty Images

2 thoughts on “The story of the Royals terrible, no good, very bad trade

  1. It is a good recap but I think you need to go further. Money from moving Soria contract was essentially spent on John Jay and Moose. Add the trade trade of Jay and whatever Moose brings might make this turn the other way. This thought process might be a bit of a reach but it does need to be added into the equation.


  2. Pingback: Minor League Minutes: 7/30/18 – Trade Deadline Eve | Royals Farm Report

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