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For all of you who cannot wait for the 2009 season to begin, at least we have the hot stove season to keep us warm! And wow, the first major (depends on your definition) trade of the offseason has already happened! And what's even better, the trade is actually a good one for both sides.
Royals acquire: 1b Mike Jacobs
Marlins acquire: RP Leo Nunez
On paper, this trade looks very good for the Royals. Jacobs comes to the Royals at a modest price (around $2 mil after arbitration), at a young age (28), and with light tower power (32 homers in 2008). So why would the Marlins trade this guy? A few reasons:
1. money -Even though $2 mil is nothing for most major league teams, the Marlins will operate with one of the smallest payrolls in baseball next season and probably wanted to spend that money addressing other needs. Jacobs' power simply became a luxury for the Marlins who are loaded with offensive power, but need to address issues concerning their pitching and defense.
2. defense Good thing Jacobs is coming to the AL because his defense is absolutely atrocious. Having Jacobs play 1b was a major liability for the team and made the other three infielders around him worse. This move could upgrade the pathetic Marlins infield defense.
3. OBP Sure the 32 homers are great, but how about the .299 OBP. That clip flat out sucks especially for a middle of the order hitter.
Even with Jacob's obvious flaws, he was a good gamble for GM Dayton Moore to take. The 2008 Royals had absolutely no power to speak of outside of Jose Guillen and Alex Gordon while no Royal hit over 20 homers last season. For that reason alone, Jacobs is a good find for the Royals. How many young, power hitting first basemen can be found nowadays for a relief pitcher? Not many. Jacobs adds some instant punch to a lineup that was punch-less last season, but he will need to improve his OBP. I fear that Guillen and Jacobs will become the first 3 and 4 hitters to each have OBPs under .300. How scary would that be? Get on base fellas!
With the move, I wonder what will happen to Billy Butler and Kila Ka'aihue. Like Jacobs, Butler is a liability on the field, but he can rake. Or at least he did in AAA. We have yet to see consistent production from him in the majors. As for Ka'aihue, this move sets him back further on the Royals 1b depth chart. After a tremendous season in the minors, many thought that this guy was the Royals first baseman of the future because of his power. But after this move, I guess thats not the case. Maybe they weren't as high on him as all the experts are.
As for the Marlins, this trade makes a whole lot of sense. The 2009 Marlins need to add defense and pitching depth to remain competitive in the NL East. Adding Leo Nunez, a guy who very quietly produced a 2.98 ERA in 45 games for the Royals, the Marlins have added a potentially valuable piece to their bullpen. This move also give the Marlins the potential to add a defensive minded first baseman or third baseman, depending on whether they shift Jorge Cantu from first base to third base. The defensive "addition by subtraction" should make the Marlins a more fundamentally sound team. I fully expect the Marlins to compete for the top spot in the NL East next season. These guys are good and this move shows the genius of Larry Beinfest.
Kudos to both teams on a rare trade that benefits both sides!
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