Royals, Diamondbacks Swap Prospects

The Royals and Diamondbacks recently – and quietly – pulled off a rare prospect-for-prospect trade. The American League club sent reliever Carlos Rosa to Arizona for infielder Reynaldo Navarro. Rosa is the bigger name of the two based on his previous big league experience but Navarro is a former third round draft pick (2007) out of Puerto Rico.

The Diamondbacks club is desperate for relief pitching… any pitching, really. The club currently has the second worst ERA in the Majors (although its xFIP sits 18th, suggesting the club needs to address some other needs, as well). The right-hander was never able to crack the big league rotation with Kansas City and appeared in just nine MLB games over the past two seasons.

Rosa, 25, has shown good minor league numbers, including solid control (although it slipped in ’09 at triple-A); he was permanently moved to the bullpen in ’09. He has good stuff and his fastball sits around 94 mph. Unfortunately, he’s never been able to consistently command his secondary pitches (slider, change-up). He’s always done a nice job of keeping the ball in the park and has a career ground-ball rate around 50%. In ’09 at triple-A, Rosa posted a 3.44 FIP and a strikeout rate of 10.14 K/9 in 71.0 innings. So far in 2010, the right-hander has struggled with his control in just 12.1 innings.

In return, Arizona surrenders a talented – but very raw – middle infield prospect. Navarro, 20, was ranked by as the D-Backs’ seventh-best prospect entering 2010. Last year in low-A, Navarro hit .262/.308/.339 in 493 at-bats. He has some speed (12 steals in 16 tries) but his aggressive approach (5.5 BB%) makes him a poor top-of-the-order hitter. Currently in high-A ball, the shortstop is hitting .241/.307/.329 in 79 at-bats. Navarro made some defensive strides at shortstop in ’09 and has good range, so there is hope he’ll be able to remain at the position despite fringe arm strength.

Arizona certainly wins the trade if we grade it today; the club addresses a clear need and gets a solid arm for a raw player. However, Kansas City receives an interesting prospect to dream on. The club did a nice job of turning an excess arm into a potential steal. If the Royals’ player development staff can get Navarro to adjust his game plan to take advantage of his true strengths, the organization could end up as the winner of this deal. But it’s a big if.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

8 Responses to “Royals, Diamondbacks Swap Prospects”

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  1. Dan says:

    So if the Royals do something well they will win this trade?

    The Royals will not win this trade.

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    • NBarnes says:

      Yeah, but you have to think that this is the sort of trade the Royals should be making. If you get enough of these toolsy raw athlete types in your system, some of them work out for you. And it’s not like the Royals gave up anything they should care about for the privilege.

      It’s not that this one guy is going to win the trade for the Royals, any more than this one guy is going to make or break a bullpen. But he’s the sort of piece that good farm systems accumulate.

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      • Will says:

        I see what you’re saying, but “toolsy”? This guy is barely a two-tool player.

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      • Paul says:

        They have been trading for “toolsy” players and drafting them since well before GMDM arrived and he has actually accelerated it. I honestly cannot think of a single one that turned into more than a 4-A player. Really, really wish I could. Can’t.

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  2. Drakos says:

    How is Navarro an excess arm for the Royals? Their relievers are terrible. Not as bad as the DBacks but 3rd worst ERA, FIP, and xFIP is not something to be proud of.

    Also what other parts of the DBacks need improvement in order to get their ERA to line up more with xFIP? They’re the 2nd worst team in both ERA and FIP so unless their outfielders are really good at helping the ball over the fence and increasing the HR rate of the pitchers I’d say that the difference in ERA/FIP ranking vs. xFIP ranking is based on bad luck or the ballparks they’ve been playing in and not something that the rest of the team can help with.

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    • Boots says:

      Well the Royals wont be competing this year, so they dont need to arm right away. Shortstop just happens to be one of the weakest positions in the Royals farm system, and Nevarro will easily be the best SS prospect in their system. He isnt that much younger than the rest of their crop of “next royals stars,” so that conicides nicely to potentially meet a need that they have in the future.

      I liked Rosa, but if the Royals weren’t ever going to call him up (for right or wrong reasons), Im glad they were able to get something for him.

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      • Onix says:

        I’m sad a guy ran down my dog. I liked my dog, he was nice. But at least the guy gave me a $5 gift voucher.

        If my dog was going to die, I’m glad I got something for it.

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  3. kmartin says:

    Does anyone know when Fangraphs will have Minor League stats for 2010? I’m looking under “Leaders”, then “Minor League”. Right place???

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