Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jesus Montero's (Trade) Value

According to several sources, the Royals allegedly turned down a Yankees offer of Montero (and a few other pieces) for All-Star closer Joakim Soria sometime this weekend - I suspect there was more to the deal, but that's neither here nor there. At face value, the Royals rejection of this deal is a bit baffling, as Montero's been hailed as a top-prospect for well over a year by the vast majority of scouts and insiders, despite the fact that he may not be able to remain at catcher. In short, Montero's being hailed as one of the best hitters in the entirety of the minors... yet the Royals, a losing team with most of its best prospects a year or two away, would not part with their closer for a shot at a future star. As a result, a new consensus seems to have developed almost instantaneously - countless bloggers, forum-goers, and analysts have begun to decry Montero's future and value. I'm not quite sure that I've ever witnessed the term 'overrated' utilized more in regards to a prospect, in fact.

In my mind, far too many people are reading far too much into this non-deal. Aside from the fact that the on-line community is not quite sure of all the particulars of the offer (perhaps the Yankees were looking for DeJesus or Greinke), one must also be aware of the Royals system as a whole. Consider the following five names:

Billy Butler - 24-years old
MLB - .312/.378/.458, 127 OPS+, 126 wRC+, 2.0 WAR

Kila Ka'aihue - 26-years old
AAA - .315/.461/.590, 22 HR, 84 BB (305 AB)

Alex Gordon - 26-years old
AAA - .315/.442/.577, 14 HR, 51 BB (260 AB)

Eric Hosmer - 20-years old
A+ - .354/.429/.545, 7 HR, 44 BB (325 AB)
AA - .333/.391/.762, 5 HR, 3 BB (42 AB)

Mike Moustakas - 21-years old
AA - .347/.413/.687, 21 HR, 26 BB (259 AB)
AAA - .218/.228/.354, 2 HR, 1 BB (55 AB)

Wil Myers - 19-years old
A- - .289/.408/.500, 10 HR, 48 BB (242 AB)
A+ - .333/.442/.436, 0 HR, 14 BB (78 AB)

Butler, Ha'aihue, and Hosmer are first basemen. Gordon has played his fair share of first, and is likely to be a 1B/LF for the remainder of his career. Moustakas is currently a third baseman, but there are questions about his ability to remain there - many scouts see him shifting to first. Myers is a catcher, but he's very raw - many scouts seem to think he'll be moved to first or left to prevent his bat from stagnating. Moustakas and Hosmer were ranked 12th and 13th, respectively, in Baseball America's mid-season Top-25, and Myers falls into the 26 through 50 range (BA lists that bracket alphabetically).

What does this all mean? What does this have to do with Montero? Simply put - the Royals, like many, don't view Montero as a catcher moving forward. With such a large glut of talent at first, would it really make sense for the Royals to further alienate their fanbase by trading their most popular player for another 1B/DH?

In short, I don't see this non-deal as a reason to doubt Montero's value. The Royals logjam makes them one of few teams without much room for the promising youngster - and that doesn't mean much, to me or to Montero.

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