With Sal Perez and Manny Pina both having knee surgery this spring, the Royals found themselves in the market for a catcher. Starter, backup… didn’t matter. They needed a catcher.
And by now we should all know how General Manager Dayton Moore operates. He sees a hole in his roster; he immediately tries to fill it. The dude doesn’t wait around. In recent days we’ve heard the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays are in the market for a backup backstop as well. That only accelerates the fire of impatience that burns within the Royals GM. He wasn’t going to let another team steal his
thunder backup catcher.
So Tuesday afternoon he dealt Kevin Chapman and a PTBNL in exchange for catcher Humberto Quintero and outfielder Jason Bourgeois.
Let’s deal with the target man first…
Quintero is probably what you would look for in a backup catcher. Backup. Basically, the guy plays really good defense. With a cannon for an arm, he’s the kind of catcher who can alter the opposition’s running game. We know the Royals place an enormous amount of emphasis on defense behind the plate and that’s just good baseball sense. Which is why losing Perez for any length of time really hurts this team… Because there’s nobody on this roster who can call and catch a decent defensive game on a nightly basis. Sorry, Brayan Pena fans. I’m nice when I call his defense atrocious. And Max Ramirez fans… He’s worse behind the dish than Pena.
Offensively, however, Quintero a train wreck. He has a career .269 OBP in over 1,100 plate appearances.
(I’ll give you a second to process that.)
I kid you not… Among major league players with more than 1,100 plate appearances since 2000, Quintero has the second worst on base percentage. Second worst. He beats only Jeff Mathis! How about this… His career OPS+ is 58. 58! This time, he’s only the third worst since 2000. He laps Peter Bergeron and the aforementioned Mathis. Yippee. Basically, Quintero hacks at everything. He swung at 60% of all pitches he saw last year – an insanely high rate.
Seriously, how does Dayton do it? It is a gift.
Fortunately, Quintero’s defense makes up for most of those offensive shortcomings. He’s been between 0.8 and 0.5 fWAR the last three seasons on the power of his glove. I could live with that once a week. Twice may be pushing things. We’re talking about backup material.
Look, this is a short-term deal. Duct tape meant to hold until Perez comes back. Quintero is beyond awful with the bat, but the defense will help for the time being. You just aren’t going to find a catcher you’re happy with at this point of the spring.
Now, let’s look at Bourgeois…
My first reaction…
GMDM just can’t help himself. He just freaking can’t resist speedy outfielders who can’t hit a lick.
Bourgeois is another in the mold of Gathright, Dyson and Freel. The guy can’t drive the ball, doesn’t take a walk (which, you know, might be useful given the fact speed is his only tool) and basically makes a bunch of outs. He’s good with the glove and uses that speed to cover a ton of ground in the outfield.
And here’s the best part… With Maier and Dyson already in the fold, the Royals don’t need an outfielder like Bourgeois. Why was he even included in this deal?
Was this some sort of an impulse buy? Did new Houston GM Jeff Luhnow look at the “Dayton Moore Profile” and try to convince him he needed Bourgeois?
“Say, while you’re here shopping for a backup catcher, why don’t you take a look at this speedy outfielder?”
“No, we just need a catcher and… Speedy? Did you say speedy outfielder?”
“Uh-huh. Speedy. Very fast. Like the Road Runner.”
Well played, Luhnow. Well played.
With Maier positioned as the fourth outfielder and Dyson cast as the late inning “game-changing” speed guy, it would seem the backup cast for the Royals was set. Bourgeois makes sense only if you’re going to lop both Maier and Dyson off the major league roster. Strange.
But wait… There’s more!
It seems that Bourgeois was drafted as a middle infielder and has played a whopping 13 innings at second base in his major league career.
Of course he has. GMDM is already talking up his versatility.
And all this for the low price of Kevin Chapman. The guys at Pine Tar Press are high on Chapman, listing him as the Royals top left-handed reliever. He lives in the mid-90s with a decent slider and just murders left handed batting. He punched out 90 in 62 innings last year, split between High-A and Double-A. He owns a career 1.6 ground out to air out ratio. So the guy misses bats and gets ground ball outs. Strong. Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus says his fastball can get “straight” at times which probably explains why he allowed so many baserunners, but if you’re looking at a LOOGY, Chapman seems a solid candidate.
Hey, I like the thought process… If you’re going to swing a deal for a backup catcher, minor league relief pitching is a decent place to start. We all know about the volatility of the bullpen and the Royals certainly have a plethora of young arms. This is how you use guys who aren’t exactly top tier prospects. Deal them to fill a need. In this case, it’s the execution that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
It just seems like a classic Dayton Moore overreach… for a temporary catcher and an outfielder you don’t need.
And I’m not finished. Shortly after the deal was announced, Houston beat writer Brian McTaggart sent this Tweet…
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said PTBNL will be “key component” of trade.
We can infer two things from this statement. One, the player to be named later has already been agreed upon. This leads to inference number two, which is the PTBNL is a member of the 2011 draft class. Rules say a draftee has to be with the organization for a year before he can be packaged in a trade. If this is what is going down, we can expect the deal to be “officially” completed in mid-June.
And a “key component.” Does that mean this deal could get worse?