We are now entering the heart of trading season in major league baseball and virtually everyone who follows the Royals is certain that Wilson Betemit will be traded. Count me among that group.
Since Mike Moustakas was called up, Betemit has appeared in just nine games – three of those being against NL teams where he was used as a pinch hitter. We joke about Mitch Maier never playing, but even he has seen more action since June 10th than Wilson.
The lack of playing time has eliminated any hope that Betemit will qualify for any free agent compensation at year’s end. While that same lack of action has certainly reduced, maybe even decimated, Wilson’s trade value, the Royals would still be wise to move Betemit for a lottery ticket simply because he will be a free agent at the end of 2011.
Being a switch-hitter with some power, the ability to play both corners of the infield and at least passing familiarity with shortstop and second base, Betemit versatile enough and has a decent enough track record to warrant something from somebody. It is one thing to want it to be worth your while when trading one of your regulars (Cabrera/Francouer), but it is another thing to hold onto an asset you don’t need, plan on wanting or use at all.
Moving Betemit, whatever the bounty or lack thereof, is the correct thing to do, but what can the Royals expect in return? Well, when reviewing players somewhat similar to Betemit who have been traded in recent history, it appears the return is exactly what the Royals do not need: middle relievers.
In 2007, Ty Wigginton was traded for 28 year old reliever Dan Wheeler. Jeff Baker was traded in 2009 for Al Alburquerque, a then 23 year old reliever in A Ball. Heck, Wilson Betemit himself was traded in 2007 for a 30 year old Scott Proctor. I will take Greg Holland and Louis Coleman over Wheeler, Proctor or whomever is the 2011 equivalent of those guys.
Another somewhat comparable trade was Pittsburgh’s move of a 31 year old Eric Hinske – a player with almost exactly the same career numbers as Betemit – to the Yankees for two non-prospect A ballers. The Pirates got a 23 year old pitcher named Casey Erickson and a 23 year old catcher named Eric Fryer. Both were former 10th round picks, neither had much buzz, but Fryer actually has made it to the majors with the catching starved Pirates this season.
The best Dayton Moore can probably do with a Betemit trade is to gamble on a non-prospect or a former prospect with issues. Jeremy Jeffress is a guy that comes to mind, but the Royals already got him from Milwaukee, who has become the rumored trade partner in this deal. Frankly, Betemit is more likely to garner the High-A (pun intended) version of Jeffress or the position player equivalent, but again this is kind of like you putting that socket set you got for Christmas five years ago and forgot you had out on the garage sale: whatever you get is gravy.
When trolling the Milwaukee farm system, is someone like Zelous Wheeler a player to take a flyer on? How about former Braves’ prospect Brandon Jones? Or 27 year old AAA pitcher Frankie de la Cruz? These are just names to throw out that are not going to excite anyone, but would seem to be players that might be offered in exchange for Betemit.
Exciting is not the word that is going to surround the almost certain dealing of Mr. Betemit, but that does not mean it is a bad deal. Betemit does not have a role in the future with the Royals, he doesn’t have a role right now