More on the Yuni Trade

Jay Yencich · July 10, 2009 at 3:09 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Most of us would be walking away from this one with smiles on our faces just because we rid ourselves of the enigma that is Yuniesky Betancourt. It’s a little odd that we also happen to be trading him to a team with a history of shortstop enigmas, and in a city with a storied barbecue scene to boot, but while Royals fans will be left to puzzle over the aftermath, we came out pretty good even with the cash sent their way.

Daniel Cortes was a seventh-round pick of the White Sox in 2005 out of a California high school, and has a legitimate arm that regularly sits in the low-90s and can hit the mid-90s. The middle of the plate, however, proves to be problematic for him as his walk rate is consistently between three and four+ for his career. On top of that, he’s had a weak season in which his command has been even worse than usual, with more walks and fewer Ks. He doesn’t have much of a change-up and has some trouble with left-handers stemming from that, but his curveball grades quite nicely and he’s still only twenty-two, and pitching in double-A. If he isn’t a starter, he could be a worthy reliever if they get the kinks ironed out. Commenter Slurve also found an old story that would suggest that his overall makeup is pretty good too.

Derrick Saito will be regarded by some as a throw-in, being a 5’9 lefty with college experience who is merely putting together some good numbers in the Midwest League, but I wouldn’t undersell him. When he was relieving in college, he could hit 97 mph on the gun, and offset this with a curveball that ranked among the best in the conference. He has all the pitches to start, it’s just a question of durability I suppose, but at worst, he could be an interesting left-on-left reliever. Southpaws don’t hit him well, with just a .212 average against and extra-base hits that you could count on one hand. He strikes them out at a rate of 11.30 per nine, but his walk rate is over three and three-quarters, even after some significant improvements over last season.

Both arms have some issues, but they have upside. After all of the Mariners continued efforts over the years with Yuni, no one can say they didn’t try with him. Whatever happens from here, I’m pleased with the haul we got.

Comments

47 Responses to “More on the Yuni Trade”

  1. stevie_j13 on July 10th, 2009 3:16 pm

    I am also pleased with the deal the M’s got, even if it turns out to be a bag of balls and some pine tar. This smells to me like step one, though. The M’s are still on the cusp of contention, so I would be surprised that they would trade away IF depth at this juncture for two projects. If Jack Wilson or Freddy Sanchez is a Mariner in the next few days, the timing of this trade will make more sense. Either way, go Jack!

  2. Willmore2000 on July 10th, 2009 3:22 pm

    Derrick Saito will be regarded by some as a throw-in

    Jason Churchill:

    Saito is a 21-year-old reliever. He’s 5-9 and misses bats in A ball, but may have issues doing so long term, except versus left-handers. He’s basically a throw-in.

    Diss. :-)

  3. Rusty on July 10th, 2009 3:26 pm

    Considering we had both Asdrubal Cabrera and Adam Jones in our farm system, playing shortstop, at the time we acquired Yuni, I’d say he received a very fair shot at being our long term solution at SS. He wasn’t quite up for the challenge.

  4. monty1077 on July 10th, 2009 3:32 pm

    Does anyone know much the team is paying KC

  5. mln on July 10th, 2009 3:34 pm

    Two power arms. Both capable of throwing in the mid-90s. And one’s a lefty. Not bad.

    Plus, Yuni and Willie can do that tandem bicycle ad thing for the Royals now.

  6. Willmore2000 on July 10th, 2009 3:34 pm

    monty1077:

    the remained of this year, plus 5 mil next year.

  7. rsrobinson on July 10th, 2009 3:38 pm

    Even if neither of these prospects works out getting rid of Yuni is still addition by subtraction as far as I’m concerned. I’d had enough of his indiscriminate hackery at the plate and lackadaisical attitude in the field.

  8. DLCheeZ on July 10th, 2009 3:44 pm

    From here:

    On Cortes:

    “We were ready to move him to Triple-A in a couple of weeks,” [Royals GM Dayton] Moore said. “We gave up a pretty good pitcher, but we had to try to make this work to improve our middle-infield situation.”

    On the Yuni Payroll situation:

    “Betancourt’s contract includes a $6 million club option for 2012 with a $2 million buyout. The Royals are on the hook for that, but Seattle is paying the remainder of his $2 million salary this season.

    The Mariners are also paying $2 million over the next two seasons when Betancourt’s salary rises to $3 million in 2010 and $4 million in 2011.”

  9. Jay Yencich on July 10th, 2009 3:46 pm

    re: Willmore

    Ha! I didn’t mean that as any diss on Churchill, who is a good dude. I actually hadn’t read what he had written about the trade before posting on it. I just wanted to highlight Saito’s position as the good kind of enigma.

  10. EricL on July 10th, 2009 3:49 pm

    So, we’re paying the rest of this year, $1mil in 2010, and $1mil in 2011.

    That’s the same as the $2mil buyout. And we don’t have to pay him the two seasons between.

    That right there is a win for the M’s. We’re saving $7 million over 2010-2011 as we would have paid that $2mil buyout after 2011 for sure.

  11. rsrobinson on July 10th, 2009 3:49 pm

    Is that $2 million each of the next two seasons or $2 million total for the next two seasons?

  12. Willmore2000 on July 10th, 2009 3:51 pm

    re: Willmore

    Ha! I didn’t mean that as any diss on Churchill, who is a good dude. I actually hadn’t read what he had written about the trade before posting on it. I just wanted to highlight Saito’s position as the good kind of enigma.

    Yeah, I figured as much, I just remembered his article and your line stuck out, so I figured I’d make a small joke there.

  13. Dwezilwoffa on July 10th, 2009 3:52 pm

    Good trade for the Mariners. I love the site even though I am a KC fan. Our Gm < your Gm. Oh well at least we didnt trade for Francouer.

  14. seattlesundevil on July 10th, 2009 3:52 pm

    DLCheez – Ha! Wow.. That’s quite a good read, as I figured it would be after reading the first two sentences…

  15. mkd on July 10th, 2009 3:53 pm

    So if I’m understanding this right, Yuni was going to cost us:

    rest of 09: ~$1M
    10: $3M
    11: $4M
    12: $2M buyout
    For a total of $10,000,000

    And now that we’ve made the trade it’ll be:

    rest of 09: ~$1M
    10: $1M
    11: $1M
    12: nada
    For a total of $3,000,000

    Plus two potentially decent arms?

    Nice.

  16. DaveValleDrinkNight on July 10th, 2009 3:54 pm

    Our long National nightmare is over.

  17. BillyJive on July 10th, 2009 4:00 pm

    Pittsburgh just released Doyle…..
    hmmmm…..

  18. Mike Snow on July 10th, 2009 4:04 pm

    Is that $2 million each of the next two seasons or $2 million total for the next two seasons?

    Hazarding a guess, I think it would be $2 million total. I believe there is or was a rule that cash transactions over $1 million require commissioner approval. This trade didn’t appear to need that, and it may be that limiting the exchange to $1 million per season circumvents that restriction.

  19. mjllama on July 10th, 2009 4:07 pm

    I covered Saito in his first pro stop in Idaho Falls last summer for the Post Register. I wouldn’t call him a thrown-in.

    Sure, he’ll probably be a lefty specialist in the big leagues. But with a fastball 92-94 mph and three breaking balls that were all graded as plus pitches out of college, he’s got a high ceiling. He also has a funky motion that hides the ball from batters, especially lefties.

  20. Alex on July 10th, 2009 4:09 pm

    So basically, we just gained $7 million (or is it $6 million??), plus two prospects, for free.

  21. CMC_Stags on July 10th, 2009 4:37 pm

    So basically, we just gained $7 million (or is it $6 million??), plus two prospects, for free.

    Actually, if he had continued to play below replacement level for the duration of the season, there was a good chance the team would eventually give him the BJ Ryan treatment. Were that to happen, he would have cost the team $10M.

    So take the % chance that the team ended up releasing him and multiply that by the $10M he was still owed and subtract that from $7M. That is how much KC is paying us, along with two prospects, for Yuni.

    So let’s say there was a 50/50 chance that the M’s end up releasing Yuni to clear him off the 40 man roster at some point.

    $7M – ($10M * 50%) = $2M

    So in that scenario, KC payed us an expected value of $2M and two prospects for the rights to Yuni.

  22. xxtinynickxx on July 10th, 2009 4:39 pm

    Pirates Release Chris Snelling BRING BACK DOYLE!

  23. TomTuttle on July 10th, 2009 4:51 pm

    Pirates Release Chris Snelling BRING BACK DOYLE!

    hahaha, forget this trade. If Z brought in Snelling, that would put him in “Executive of the Year” status over here on this blog.

    Speaking of which, I hear the Royals fans on their blogspehere are none to pleased about this. . .

  24. alexD on July 10th, 2009 4:51 pm

    [long link, duplicate]

  25. Joe on July 10th, 2009 5:05 pm

    “We want to thank Yuni for all he has done for the Mariners and wish him the best of luck in Kansas City.”
    — Jack Zduriencik

    On that note, perhaps we should send him off with one last contest: how many games will Betty play in a KC uniform before he takes a base on balls?

  26. harry on July 10th, 2009 5:14 pm

    Best comment at royalsreview.com:

    “I was going to rec this if it was an onion-like piece.

    Now I’m probably just buying a gun.”

  27. bongo on July 10th, 2009 5:14 pm

    Fans of other AL central teams are relieved that their team didn’t end up with Betancourt.

    From the Twins Geek site:
    http://twinsgeek.blogspot.com/2009/07/whew-royals-acquire-yuni-betancourt.html

    An excerpt:

    “Unfortunately, the more I research about him, the more worried I got that the Twins might actually trade for him. Word came down this morning that the Mariners had pulled him out of a Tacoma game just before game time, and then I got really worried. Today we found out that it was a different AL Central team, the Royals, who traded two minor league pitchers for Betancourt.

    So my writeup is ruined – and I couldn’t be more pleased.”

  28. rsrobinson on July 10th, 2009 5:15 pm

    Maybe Z should see what the Royals will give us for Carlos Silva.

  29. tgf on July 10th, 2009 5:32 pm

    I covered Saito in his first pro stop in Idaho Falls last summer for the Post Register. I wouldn’t call him a thrown-in.
    Sure, he’ll probably be a lefty specialist in the big leagues. But with a fastball 92-94 mph and three breaking balls that were all graded as plus pitches out of college, he’s got a high ceiling. He also has a funky motion that hides the ball from batters, especially lefties.

    Thanks for the report. Saito sounds like the kind of player Billy Beane asks for in a deal. Good performance, good translatable skill (throws hard, gets Ks), but has one obvious flaw that turns people off (5’9″).

  30. DLCheeZ on July 10th, 2009 5:33 pm

    Keith Law tears into Yuni:

    “The Royals kicked off their offseason last winter by acquiring Mike Jacobs, a player so limited in skills that acquiring him made little sense even before considering their superior in-house alternatives. Jacobs has, predictably, flopped, both at the plate and with the glove.

    On Friday, the Royals topped that move with an even worse one, trading for Yuniesky Betancourt, who might very well be the worst everyday player in the majors, and actually giving up something of value in Danny Cortes, a hard-throwing pitching prospect with command and makeup issues, and Derrick Saito, who projects at least as a lefty specialist if the Mariners choose to push him up the ladder.

    Betancourt does nothing well on a baseball field. He can’t hit and has lost bat speed since reaching the majors. He hacks at everything he sees, and even swings at pitches thrown to other hitters. He has next to no range at short. And he never hustles on anything — not balls hit in his direction, not ground balls he might have a chance to beat out (well, before he let himself go physically). Other than all that, he’s Honus Wagner.”

  31. Jay Yencich on July 10th, 2009 5:41 pm

    Indeed, thanks for the contribution mjllama.

  32. jephdood on July 10th, 2009 5:41 pm

    Brutal, Mr. Law..

    Most of it seems accurate. Though, to his credit, I don’t think I ever saw Yuni loaf up the line, unless on one of his many popups..

  33. RickMirerManiac on July 10th, 2009 5:48 pm

    [fing long link]

  34. Jay Yencich on July 10th, 2009 5:53 pm

    This is absolutely astounding. What Willie? Huh? Let the hilarity ensue.

    Mr. Bloomquist’s comments hinge on the word “could”. We’ve all seen how well that has gone so far.

    Also, note the shot of Yuni in action for the article. This should tell you what the author really thinks of this trade.

  35. heyoka on July 10th, 2009 5:56 pm

    Watch Yuni turn into a superstar…..

  36. mln on July 10th, 2009 6:02 pm

    This is absolutely astounding. What Willie? Huh? Let the hilarity ensue.

    http://www.kansascity.com/sports/royals/story/1317069.html

    Those comments from Willie and Gil Meche about Yuni are positively surreal:

    “Wow! Really?” said Willie Bloomquist, who spent the previous four years as Betancourt’s teammate. “He’s very, very talented to the point where — and I’ve told him this — he could be the best defensive shortstop in the game hands down.

    “And offensively, he can swing it.”

    [...]

    “Come on…” pitcher Gil Meche said when informed of the trade. “He’s pretty darn good. He’s fun to play with. I can tell you that pitching against him _ he’s not an easy guy to pitch to. He’s got some pop.

    “And as far as playing shortstop, he’s one of the best I’ve seen. He makes tough plays look really easy.”

    Bizarro Yuniesky Betancourt indeed.

  37. jjracoon on July 10th, 2009 6:03 pm

    What Willie really means is after they get done seeing how bad this guy really is I’ll get some real playing time at short!!!!!!

  38. Big Bob on July 10th, 2009 6:03 pm

    Wow the Royals are full of Mariners castoffs from crappy teams. The Royals GM must of been high to pull such a deal. Best wishes to Yuni, maybe he pulls his head out of the clouds and starts living up to his potential(not likely). Now let’s go get Hardy or Sanchez Dr Z!!!

  39. jjracoon on July 10th, 2009 6:05 pm

    Do you realize even if Saito or Cortes make it to the team in 2011 that they would still be older than Hernandez is right now after playing for what seems forever for the Mariners. Gads he is still the youngest guy on the roster!!

  40. DMZ on July 10th, 2009 6:08 pm

    Keep in mind it’s been a while since Meche saw Yuni play regularly.

  41. Breadbaker on July 10th, 2009 6:10 pm

    Maybe Z should see what the Royals will give us for Carlos Silva.

    From your keyboard to God’s (or Zduriencik’s) ear.

    Other than all that, he’s Honus Wagner

    And I’m Clark Gable.

  42. Mekias on July 10th, 2009 6:19 pm

    As an added bonus, this will ruin Zack Greinke’s shot at the Cy Young. Felix only has to worry about Halladay now!

  43. Sports on a Schtick on July 10th, 2009 6:21 pm

    Okay, this is eerie. I mentioned on the Bizarro Yuni Fan Club (which is now accepting applicants from Kansas City!) that the Cheezburger Night promotion was missing a shortstop. And we all know what happened last night.

    LOLcat FTW???

  44. Slurve on July 10th, 2009 6:32 pm

    Derrick Saito will be regarded by some as a throw-in, being a 5’9 lefty with college experience…and offset this with a curveball that ranked among the best in the conference. He has all the pitches to start, it’s just a question of durability I suppose…He strikes them out at a rate of 11.30 per nine…

    Short pitcher with a funky wind-up but has amazing stuff and thought to be a reliever due to durability problems and being short… Sound familiar?

  45. G-Man on July 10th, 2009 8:46 pm

    A couple weeks ago, when the value or absence of value of Mike Morse was under debate, it was said here that Morse wouldn’t be a valuable trading chip, as no GM was as stupid as Bill Bavasi.

    Now, without even talking about what Langerhaans has contributed in these few games, I present this Yuni trade as evidence that, indeed, there are other GM’s from Bavasi’s gene pool.

  46. Joe on July 10th, 2009 11:18 pm

    “And as far as playing shortstop, he’s one of the best I’ve seen. He makes tough plays look really easy.”

    Amazingly, this has been true… about 2% of the time. The other 98% of the time, he makes routine plays look really hard or impossible.

    I present this Yuni trade as evidence that, indeed, there are other GM’s from Bavasi’s gene pool.

    Yes, but you can’t count on it. And in most cases, they just have one particular weakness. Zduriencik’s genius seems to be an ability to sniff that flaw out and take advantage of it. Bavasi’s problem was that he was entirely made of flaw. His only strength was building a cheap bullpen, and being a nice guy.

  47. Slippery Elmer on July 10th, 2009 11:41 pm

    His only strength was building a cheap bullpen, and being a nice guy.

    He also has a manly visage reminiscent of a love child between Jay Buhner and Henry Rollins, so he’s also got that going for him.

    But that and a million bucks still won’t get you two passably intriguing pitchers for Yuni Betancourt. Nice deal, Jack.

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