Both sides come out ahead in Teahen swap

The Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals hooked up for an intradivision trade the day after the World Series ended, agreeing to send 3B/RF Mark Teahen to the south side of Chicago in exchange for 2B Chris Getz and 3B Josh Fields.

This trade is certainly no blockbuster, but the trade appears to be very telling on how each general manager is approaching the offseason and construction of its roster.

MLB: Mariners vs Royals SEP 18

Chicago is receiving a player that has a shot to knock 20 home runs in The Cell with a batting average around .270. He’s under control for two more arbitration years, and many seem to feel he’s a lock to be the White Sox’s new right-fielder with the departure of Jermaine Dye. I’m not so sure.

Gordon Beckham has long been viewed as a second baseman or shortstop, with his time at third base only due to extenuating circumstances. With the Teahen acquisition, the now-former Royal could slot in at third while Beckham assumes the vacant second base spot.

Another option that places Beckham at short is to move the Cuban Missile, Alexei Ramirez, back to second base of whence he came in 2008. All indications I’ve heard about the club’s position on Ramirez leads me to believe they’re committed to Alexei at short, leaving second as Beckham’s only possible move if the ChiSox want Teahen at third. (Defense is irrelevant: according to UZR, Teahen is bad at both 3B and RF, so it’s a pick your poison type deal.)

I also have a difficult time believing the White Sox would deal two infield pieces to receive someone they plan on stashing in the outfield. While it’s true that the club has two outfield spots vacant, is opening up another vacant spot at second really the right idea, unless you have a contingency plan in place?

I think that this deal is valuable from Williams’ perspective because it allows him to go in multiple directions. If Orlando Hudson falls in his lap (which I have a sneaking suspicion will happen), then you see Teahen as the club’s right-fielder. If Johnny Damon and Rick Ankiel decide Chicago should be their new home, you slot Teahen in at third base.

Teahen represents a starting player for Chicago, one that keeps Williams flexible in acquiring future players. He won’t have to shoehorn his focus on one particular position like he would have if he had acquired a true third-baseman or true right-fielder. For the trigger-happy GM, that’s a dream come true.

On the Royals end, you’re finally seeing GM Dayton Moore pick up potential high-reward payoffs. The acquisition of Fields reminds me a lot of the Pirates’ deal for Jeff Clement at the trading deadline, which saw Jack Wilson headed to Seattle. Both boast home-run power but had passed the prospect stage and were merely frustrating their current franchises, so off they went.

I can’t see Fields displacing Gordon at third, but I expect him to become Kansas City’s full-time first baseman. There’s really no way to predict how well Fields will fare, but it’s the kind of move that struggling clubs should make instead of dealing for an overpaid first-baseman essentially is Josh Fields. (That would be Mike Jacobs.)

Getz is highly likely to win the starting second base job and gives the Royals another set of wheels to work with (25 stolen bases). While his overall line of .261/.324/.347 may not seem impressive, he suffered from a strained right oblique and sports hernia over his last two months of the season. Toss out those two months, and his final line becomes more impressive: .272/.327/.373. A .256 slugging percentage in May (which may have resulted from a fractured bone in his right middle finger) is what tempers his slugging percentage under .400. Of course, at this juncture, you’re talking three good months and three bad months, of which the bad months may have been related to injury.

I think it’s safe to say if Getz stays relatively healthy, he’s good for a slugging percentage just under .400, 30 stolen bases and a .260-.270 batting average. If he can develop some plate discipline and add 10-20 points to his OBP total, he suddenly becomes a very good second baseman.

Getz’s acquisition has the potential to pay off, but if it doesn’t, it won’t harm the club. It does seem to shove Alberto Callaspo out of a starting spot despite a very productive .300/.356/.457 campaign. To Moore’s credit, he seems to realize that given Callaspo’s history, it’s likely his season was a fluke. Even if it’s not, Callaspo will have no trouble playing his way into a starting spot somewhere.

In essense, this trade boils down to Moore taking a chance on Getz and Fields being productive. If not, they’re really no worse off than they were: Teahen was only getting older, more expensive and wasn’t a franchise piece to build around. The payoff of one or both of the new Royals succeeding will impact the Royals’ far more than Teahen will.

From Chicago’s end of things, it gives them a starting position player with the flexibility to play multiple positions, allowing Williams to continue upgrading his team where he chooses, not where he’s forced to.

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  1. Evan Brunell said...

    Thanks for the link. Intriguing. I think it’s too far advanced for this trade to fall apart, and is probably not official until player examinations have taken place.

    Wouldn’t be shocked to hear that the Royals leaked this in the first place to gauge public reaction.

  2. Evan Brunell said...

    He is; I’m going off the assumption the Royals wouldn’t want to shoehorn Fields strictly in a DH spot. He isn’t the type of hitter (yet) who can demand a full-time gig at DH. He needs to play the field and prove his value that way.

  3. Ian said...

    Butler’s below average defensively, according to UZR and Tango’s fan scouting reports.  DH material long-term?

  4. ecp said...

    I’m not sure that I’d call Butler “settled” at first just yet; the team may be perfectly happy to move him back to DH under the right circumstances.  Yeah, he’s below average at first, but much better than he was – he’s worked hard at it.

  5. Chris said...

    I think it’s safe to say if Getz stays relatively healthy, he’s good for a slugging percentage just under .400, 30 stolen bases and a .260-.270 batting average. If he can develop some plate discipline and add 10-20 points to his OBP total, he suddenly becomes a very good second baseman.

    If Getz can do that, he would be a dead ringer for Callaspo’s career line to date (286/341/404).

    Yes, Getz will toss in some SB, but his 93% success rate screams “fluke” more than anything else in this conversation, and if he goes back to his rate in the minors (58 SB v 22 CS) then his non-fantasy value from SB will be small.

    Callaspo and Getz are about the same age (Callaspo is 4.5 months older) and seem to be even defensively: Getz has a slight edge in RZR but Callaspo has a higher OOZ/BIZ ratio, and they’re within a run of each other according to Fangraphs’ URZ.

    And, of course, Callaspo’s 2009 was terrific, and even if he regresses somewhat, it’s still reasonable to project him to outperform his career average – and thus Getz.

    So why is bumping Callaspo for Getz an upgrade for the Royals?

  6. kcghost said...

    GMDM has been down on Callaspo since the day he traded for him. How odd is that?? Callaspo’s weakness is a lack of range plus the ability to make critical errors. His running mate on the right side, Billy Butler, also has no range.

    I can’t imagine Fields at age 27 having any upside despite his power. In his last 300 PA’s the guy posted an OPS around .600.

    Yeah, Getz can run, but do you really expect a guy with no power who didn’t get to the majors until age 25 to be an upgrade over anything??

  7. HH said...

    “I can’t imagine Fields at age 27 having any upside.”

    Josh Fields has quite a bit of upside. His numbers project to 25 HRs and 80 RBI over 525 ABs based on past numbers. He’s been a .229 hitter but he could definitely take a step forward with full playing time at age 27. It happens all the time. He’s definitely worth taking a shot at from KC’s perspective.

    He’s a guy that hasn’t been given a full year to do what he can do. Given a full shot, he might perform well above expectations. They are definitely buying low on a guy considered to have talent.

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