Royals Sign Juan Cruz

For the last few weeks the big news around Juan Cruz has been speculation surrounding a sign-and-trade deal involving the Arizona Diamondbacks and Minnesota Twins. Understandably, the Diamondbacks wanted fair value in return for their cooperation since Cruz is a Type-A free agent, the D-Backs would receive either a first or second round pick in June’s draft depending on the team that signed Cruz. At the same time, Arizona couldn’t risk having Cruz sit out through the draft and get absolutely nothing in return so they agreed today to a…wait, that’s…that’s Dayton Moore’s music!

Yep, the Kansas City General Manager swooped in and signed Cruz to a two-year contract worth six million. It’s a fine deal considering Cruz’ level of performance over the past few seasons in which he’s been worth a little more than a half of a win as a non-crucial reliever. That is to say that Cruz was not used in high leverage situations, something that will help his value – assuming he continues pitching well.

Over the last two years, Cruz has been used exclusively as a reliever. In 2007, Cruz recorded a 3.7 FIP, and 3.62 FIP in 2008 despite an increase in walks. CHONE absolutely loves Cruz, projecting a 3.2 FIP while Marcels has him at 3.99. Let’s say the midpoint is more realistic, meaning Cruz will be a set-up man with a 3.6 FIP. That’s worth three million annually.

Any article reviewing this move isn’t complete without a mention of the deal the Royals signed Kyle Farnsworth earlier this off-season, but I’d rather discuss the draft pick implications. The Royals pick within the first half of the first round, which means the Diamondbacks will receive their second round pick – number 58 according to River Ave Blues. Not quite what the Diamondbacks were hoping for, but all things considered, it’s probably better than the alternatives.

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16 Responses to “Royals Sign Juan Cruz”

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  1. NYRoyal says:

    Rosenthal’s initial report was a 2/6 deal. But it turns out it is a 2/5.5 deal with a third year club option for $4M. That’s a good value to the Royals for the money, but the loss of a second round pick does cut into that. The Royals are still rebuilding and need all the high draft picks they can get. If Grudzielanek ends up signing with anyone, the sandwich pick the Royals would get would soften the blow.

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    • LB says:

      Actually it is a 2/6 deal, at least in terms of guaranteed money. He gets 2.25 in ’09, 3.25 in ’10, with the club option at 4 in ’11 with a 500K buyout.

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  2. Levski says:

    “Diamondbacks will receive their second round pick – number 58 according to River Ave Blues. Not quite what the Diamondbacks were hoping for, but all things considered, it’s probably better than the alternatives. ”

    Really? Why not? Am thinking the Dbacks are pretty excited to have a 2nd round pick plus a supplemental pick for Cruz. Right now, they are getting the 36th overall pick in the supplemental round and the 58th overall pick from Kansas City–and am sure that’s basically what the Dbacks were hoping they’d get in the first place. The team now has 2 first round picks, 3 supplemental picks and 2 second round picks, all of them within the first 62 picks of the draft. Not bad at all, especially considering the tough offseason that Hudson and Cruz had.

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    • marcello says:

      Because they could have gotten a better pick if he’d signed with a different team? That’s all he was saying, at least as I understood it.

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      • Levski says:

        Well, maybe, if he had signed with the Twins, for example… but that really seemed to be the only team with unprotected 1st rounder that even made an offer to Cruz, as far as I can tell. No other team with a first rounder to give up made an offer to Cruz. So maybe the argument here is that “The Dbacks really got screwed because the Twins didn’t sign Cruz”… which is a fairly weak argument. Looking at it from a different angle, it could’ve been a lot worse for AZ if a team like the Mets or Yankees had signed Cruz…

        My point is that it was fairly unrealistic to expect in the first place that any team was going to sacrifice a first round pick for Juan Cruz. The most likely scenario has always been a second round pick, either from a team that gave up its first rounder for a better free agent (e.g. the Mets) or a team with a protected first rounder (e.g. the Royals). And as far as second rounders go, the Royals’ pick isn’t a bad one, as it’s one of the earlier ones in the second round…

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  3. Blotz says:

    “…wait, that’s…that’s Dayton Moore’s music! ”

    This Wrestling and Baseball fan is now cleaning coffee off his monitor…

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    • JD says:

      I’m so glad somebody else pointed this out. I popped for R.J.’s somewhat obscure allusion.

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      • Polanco_Fan says:

        Bill Simmons used that little line a bunch of times in his book about hte Red Sox finally winning it all.

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  4. JH says:

    The smartest thing Moore could do is ship Soria off at the deadline for a king’s ransom in prospects, install Cruz as the Royals’ game finisher, then ship him off next off-season for more than he’s worth once he’s become a “proven closer.”

    Moore’s got the tools necessary for an Oakland-style quick rebuild. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem willing to go out on a limb and give his team a chance to be good.

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    • MetsFan says:

      I’m inclined to disagree here — I think anything popularized by Moneyball is no longer a viable strategy to create value. Soria could bring back some nice prospects, but the primary reason would be that he is under control for a while, not others grossly “overpaying” for a closer.

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      • marcello says:

        Agreed, I think the era of flipping the closer is over.

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      • JH says:

        Really? Closers don’t change hands all that often, but it still seems like teams are willing to give up a lot for them when they do get traded.

        This offseason, the Mariners turned JJ Putz and a B- prospect into a +2-win center fielder with upside, 3 intriguing prospects, and a veteran reliever they were able to flip for 2 more young guys with upside this past offseason.

        The A’s were able to get one of the best players in baseball for a mediocre closer, an overrated prospect who doesn’t have the glove for center or the bat for a corner spot, and a soft-tossing lefty with extreme flyball rates who’s going to get absolutely murdered in his new park.

        In 2007, Eric Gagne netted Texas a pre-arbitration 2-WAR outfielder (David Murphy) and a top-100 prospect (Engel Beltre).

        In 2006, the Indians traded the very non-elite Bob Wickman to Atlanta for Max Ramirez (who they then repackaged to Texas), a “catcher” (likely 1B/DH in the near future) who hit ~.350/.450/.600 in Double-A this year.

        Omar Minaya, Dan O’Dowd, Theo Epstein, and John Schuerholz aren’t exactly a who’s who of dumb general managers, either.

        Even mediocre closers still return a disproportionate amount of value compared with mere relief pitchers. As a truly elite closer with a friendly contract, Soria could command a lot in trade.

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  5. Darren says:

    Forget “flipping the closer,” just deal him now that you he’s getting expensive, you have another decent one, and you have other needs.

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  6. NickP says:

    Put him in the rotation and let Cruz close.

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    • Ryan says:

      This is what I’d do. Soria could always return to the closer role, but if he is a viable starter then he’d have a lot more value. A rotation that starts w/ Soria, Meche, and Grienke is pretty decent.

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  7. JJ Hardy says:

    JH has got the right idea. I don’t see what Moneyball has to do with it.

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