I got introduced to the concept of trading at a young age. It was the summer of 1987 and a couple of friends and I had just started collecting cards for the first time. I believe we paid about $0.50 a pack for those 1987 Topps baseball cards, you know the ones with the faux-wood paneling on the borders.
I loved that set.
We learned a lot about baseball that summer and became enamored as young fans of Bo Jackson, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Don Mattingly among other. We learned the barter system, swapping our favorite players back and forth, with no concept of card values or rarity. And in that, we learned one final lesson that summer.
There is no such thing as an even trade.
Unfortunately, you only truly learn that lesson after an extended period of time. The Kansas City Royals are learning that lesson the hard way as well.
Over the winter, the Royals sent outfielder Melky Cabrera to the San Francisco Giants for pitchers Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo. At the time, the trade was heralded as a win for the Royals. They utilized the classic “sell high” technique, using what they thought was a career season for Cabrera to score a proven middle of the rotation starter in the 29-year-old Sanchez and a decent prospect in exchange for Cabrera.
Hindsight, as they say, is always 20/20.
Sanchez was meant to be a key part of the rotation in 2012, but has been sidelined with injuries and riddled by ineffectiveness, posting a dismal 1-5 record with 6.75 ERA and a strike-out to walk ratio of 0.79. His performance has left many in the Kansas City organization and media wondering if they should release Sanchez now or simply non-tender him this winter.
Lorenzo Cain, acquired in the Zack Greinke trade with Milwaukee, had been projected to take Cabrera’s spot in center field and was a driving factor in making him available in the first place. Unfortunately, Cain injured himself after just 5 games and is just now expected to rejoin the Royals after the All-Star break.
For his part, Cabrera is showing that 2011 was not his career year. Coming off a season where he achieved career highs in average (.305), hits (201), home runs (18), RBI (87), and stolen bases (20), Cabrera is decimating that with a season stat line of .353, 119 hits, 8 home runs, 44 RBI, and 55 runs scored for the Giants. And just to cap it off, he won the All-Star Game MVP award on Wednesday night, and did it in front of the home crowd at Kaufman Stadium.
So in retrospect, we have a trade where the Royals gave up an MVP candidate in exchange for a pitcher who has apparently broken down and it was all for an prospect who won’t truly take over the role until mid-season.
Yeah, if I was Dayton Moore I would want that one back too. Unfortunately, there are no take backs in Major League Baseball.
In addition to his work at Call to the Pen, Kyle can be found casting his thoughts on small market baseball on The Baseball Big Brother Project. You can also follow his other dribbles on twitter @BBallBigBrother