Red Sox Acquire Aviles From Royals

With the flurry of rumors around the trade deadline, it can be easy for a move to sneak up seemingly out of nowhere. Theo Epstein and Dayton Moore pulled the trigger on one of those deals this afternoon, with the Red Sox acquiring second baseman Mike Aviles from the Royals for minor leaguers Yamaico Navarro, a 23-year-old versatile infielder, and Kendal Volz, a 23-year-old righty reliever.

Aviles broke into the major leagues with the Royals in 2008 and immediately put up a star-level season, recording a .325/.354/.480 triple-slash and posting 4.4 Wins Above Replacement. Unfortunately for Aviles, life is rarely ever just puppy dogs and giggles, and 2009 brought a horrid 12 wRC+ through April and May followed by a season-ending forearm injury. The success of 2008 has never returned for Aviles, as he’s managed a .278/.312/.406 triple-slash since returning from the injury in 2010, and his defensive grades have slipped across the board as well, at every position he plays.

There’s little reason to expect a resurgence from Aviles. Despite how young his major league career is, he is already 30, and well past his defensive peak and likely on the decline at the plate too. The move from Kauffman Stadium to Fenway Park should improve his numbers, as he may bang a few doubles off the Green Monster which would’ve harmlessly fallen into fielders’ mitts in KC, but that could be said about any right-handed batter making the move. At this point, Aviles can hit lefties (111 career wRC+), but has his struggles defensively and against right-handed pitching.

The real purpose behind the acquisition of Aviles appears to be Marco Scutaro insurance. Should Scutaro fall to injury, the Sox would be left with Drew Sutton, a fine utility man but a bit stretched at shortstop. This trade suggests the Red Sox don’t have a ton of confidence in the health of either Scutaro or Jed Lowrie, who will begin a rehab assignment this Monday to stay healthy. Neither does it suggest confidence in the ability of Sutton or the traded Navarro, the next two shortstops on the Red Sox depth chart.

The reports on Navarro are uncannily similar to the profile of Aviles. According to Baseball Prospectus’s Kevin Goldstein, Navarro hits for some power and plays every position in the infield, but not terribly well. He holds a .258/.362/.469 line in Triple-A, showing good plate discipline (11.4% walk rate) and power (.211 ISO). He’ll have to continue to do so in the majors to maintain a respectable OBP, as his history of poor BABIPs in the minor leagues (under .300 in over 700 PAs) suggests he’ll struggle to post good batting averages in the show. This concern is echoed by Goldstein, who says he has “a looping swing that often generates poor contact.”

Volz appears to be the typical “live arm” prospect included in these types of trades. With the prototypical pitcher’s frame of 6-foot-5, 225 pounds and a 5.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 167 professional innings, Volz has some things going for him. However, at age 23 and still in High-A, he will have to prove he can hack it in the higher minors before he gains much of a standing as a prospect.

This trade appears to make sense for both teams. The Red Sox were ready to give up on Navarro (and they’re not the only ones down on him) and they shored up their current situation in the middle infield with a useful backup type in Aviles. Ideally, the Red Sox hardly need to use him, but with a moderate amount of uncertainty in their middle infield, it won’t hurt, and his arbitration rewards will hardly cut into their budget should they decide to keep him around beyond 2011.

With Aviles already at 30 years old and about to hit arbitration, the non-contending Royals had little use left for him. It’s a low price to take a chance on a guy like Navarro who has a decent minor league history and could turn out to be a starter at second or third base in a perfect world. If it doesn’t work out, no harm no foul. With the wave of prospects waiting in the Kansas City system, this is the exact kind of move Dayton Moore needs to make to give his prospects the support they’ll need to consistently contend in the AL Central.




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23 Responses to “Red Sox Acquire Aviles From Royals”

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  1. Welp says:

    Nice steal by KC here. An unusual bonehead move by Boston.

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    • RC says:

      As a red sox fan, I agree.

      Navarro is coming off an about an .850 OPS in AAA, and is only 23. He’s not great defensively, but at 23, hes probably nowhere near done growing, and should end up with quite a bit more power.

      That, and Aviles is terrible. I think Navarro is worht more than Aviles straight up, and throwin in Volz is ridiculous.

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      • Nick says:

        RC,

        Aviles is the player Navarro projects to be in two years. Not only that, but you are seriously overrating Volz. Why do you think he’s going to be worth anything? He’s twenty-three years old in High-A. He used to throw hard, but injuries have seriously derailed his career and any chance he had at having success in Boston.

        Look. This wasn’t the best trade in the world. It wasn’t the worst trade in the world. Does this move make the team better though? Yeah, without a doubt. You can say “Aviles isn’t the best shortstop in the game! He’s hitting under the mendoza line!” Yeah, true. But look at his stats vs. lefties and look at the rumors surrounding Aviles now that he’s already been acquired. The team wants to try him in the outfield.

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      • Welp says:

        “Does this move make the team better though? Yeah, without a doubt.”

        There’s plenty of doubt about whether or not this makes Boston better. That is very much the point.

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      • walkoffblast says:

        Seems like a good enough trade to me. Would you rather have a backup now when you need one or in a few years? Aviles has an OPS over .800 against lefties for his career. He fills out the roster nicely and the Red Sox didn’t give up anything they actually needed to get him. They also can keep him beyond this year. People are drastically overrating Navarro.

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      • Nick says:

        Career vs. lefties: 385 PA – .296/.343/.464 – .347 wOBA

        He does make them better. What other hitter that can play multiple positions that’s not injured or already starting somewhere else, has that kind of production against lefties?

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      • Welp says:

        “What other hitter that can play multiple positions that’s not injured or already starting somewhere else, has that kind of production against lefties?”

        Sutton and — wait for it — Navarro. But even if they can’t, it’s not like Aviles can either.

        Chirp about sample sizes for the first two guys, as their numbers come from AAA. But Aviles himself is having a terrible year and his ‘career’ split against lefties is held up entirely by 2008 – his only good year. The rest of the time he’s posted a wOBA well under .300 against lefties. (Until his enormous 60 PA sample this year, that is.)

        Maybe if you had to wager on one of the three for a full-time job you’d err on the side of caution and go with Aviles. But in this case, only back-up at-bats are at stake and you actually had to trade a young talent with upside in order to take the safe bet.

        Almost zero appreciable upside here between the two players themselves. When you factor in the opportunity cost, it’s just a bad deal.

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      • joe says:

        Nick… how much better? (if the answer is “without a doubt”, it should be measurable and significant, no?)

        In your “without a doubt” view is he only playing vs leftues? If he’s getting any sort of significant AB’s isn’t he playing because someone’s injured? And if that’s the case he facing more righy than lefty starters, no?

        If the the RedSox had someone on the infield who struggled vs lefties and he could see a fair amount of platoon time I could understand the fascination with lefty only splits…. but is that what’s really going to happen with a backup IF’r especially given the players on that team in front of him?

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  2. shthar says:

    I can’t buy Moore making a good trade.

    There’s got to be something about these guys we don’t know, yet.

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  3. Jon L. says:

    Aviles is a strange player. Every once in a while he’ll go on a home run binge, or steal bases every day for a week… And he does have 11 extra-base hits in just 55 at-bats against lefties this year…

    It doesn’t seem like a bad pick-up to me, considering the Red Sox didn’t give up anyone they really value.

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  4. Judy says:

    I don’t see how this makes the Red Sox better, they have a 30 year old version instead of a 23 year old version of the same thing. It’s not more insurance, it’s just a slightly different type of the exact same amount of insurance. If you think you really need another utility infielder, you trade something that isn’t a utility infielder for one.

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  5. Hank says:

    I think this also shows how little bat Iglesias has right now… you’d think with an elite glove and the offense Boston has, he’d be the insurance behind Scutaro et.al.

    I guess a .020 ISO in AAA and a ,247wOBA makes him a non-viable option at this point. (or is he injured?)

    This seems like one of those no big deal trades for a bench player by giving up guys who would never be in your long term plan anyway, but if you do enough of them over time, you start depleting the organizational depth and it’s not like the guy you are taking on is part of your long term plan either.

    If Scutaro did go down could they not make a post deadline waiver deal? It’s not like they are in danger of missing the playoffs and need a vaible backup which might mean the difference in getting to the playoffs.

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  6. kdog says:

    This trade isn’t hard to figure at all. Both Navarro & Sutton have minimal major league experience and no great upside. Boston wanted at least one utility guy with more experience. Hence our young righty hitting non prospect for your more experienced righty hitting used to be a prospect.

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  7. This is a very good trade for the Royals, as Navarro has a much higher upside than Aviles. Navarro has his flaws, but he was one of the top position-player prospects in an above-average system. Earlier this season he was hitting .329 in Triple-A when he hurt an oblique and missed tme. He has a very quick bat and some pop.

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  8. YazInLeft8 says:

    This trade isn’t going to have a winner until after the playoffs. If Aviles is efficient and maybe even plays a key role as a utility man, than Sox fans can rejoice. But if the Sox fall away in the offseason with a weak bat and decent fielder in Aviles, well, we can go cursing about how Navarro would have saved the day.

    Until then, Sox have a slight edge in this one.

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  9. Paul says:

    The Sox know this deal is about insurance and next year. Aviles is a rhythm player who absolutely swings at everything. But when he plays every day goes through three week periods, especially late in the season like last year, where he just crushes everything, righties and lefties alike. Boston fans will hate him this year if Scutaro doesn’t get hurt and Aviles plays once a week. If he does get into the lineup every day, I can easily see him as the next Dave Roberts in Boston. In the context of that team, his bat could be really, really big.

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  10. mcneo says:

    The Boston fans hating on Aviles should have been provided with a little more context that what the author provided.

    Here’s a short bio on Mike Aviles.

    Aviles was more or less organizational filler until a very good season at AAA in 2008. The Royals needed help and brought Aviles up a few months into the season, more as a response to needs at the Major League level rather than because they thought he’d improve the team. I believe Tony Pena Jr. was the shortstop at the time…

    During his AAA campaign he had hit the ball with power (PCL) and looked like a legit player. The remainder of the season was somewhat unpredictable, but true. Aviles, free swinger that he is, powered through the rest of the season being perhaps the most formidable bat in the Royals anemic lineup. His season playing above average defense at short stop is easily the best single season campaign by a Royal short stop in their short (1969) history. (.325/.354/.480).

    He opened 2009 in a slump. After 36 games, it was determined that he required Tommy John surgery. He sucked for obvious reason.

    When Aviles made it back onto the Roster in 2010; he would be replaced by the in-formidable Yunesky Betancourt. Yay. With Betancourt firmly entrenched Aviles didn’t get regular playing time until late in the year. In September, however, he managed to right his ship and hit with power once more. The only thing yet to return was his throwing arm, it was somewhat erratic.

    In 2011, the Royals decided to open the season with Aviles at third base; just barely winning his job over Wilson Betemit. Getz got the nod at second, and Alcides Escobar arrived in a trade from Milwaukee to play SS. Once more, Aviles primary position was blocked.

    Starting the season at 3rd base, Aviles struggled. He hit around .200; largely fueled by a ridiculous BABIP, which is still only .233 as of today. He still hit 5 homeruns in his first ~200 at bats. His walk % and K % were in line with career averages. His solid Z-contact rates remained. His power seemed to remain. His bad luck earned him a demotion to AAA for the majority of his age 30 season. He put up similar numbers as he had in 2008 while playing in AAA. The Royals brass didn’t seem to care that Chris Getz was also putting up numbers you would expect; and decided to keep Aviles in AAA until Wilson Betemit was traded.

    Mike Aviles is a contact hitter. He swings alot. He doesn’t walk much. His success will live and die by his BABIP.

    I like Marco Scutaro, so don’t get me wrong when I say this… but; you can make a very good argument that Mike Aviles is a better option at Shortstop than Scutaro right now.

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