The Royals desperately needed a shortstop. Their collective group was batting a cool .208/.234/.281 with awful defense and little in the way of upside.
Today, they pulled the trigger, acquiring Yuniesky Betancourt.
Betancourt doesn’t hit for power, walk, take coaching well, field, or keep himself in shape. His contract calls for 3 million next year, 4 million in 2011, and 6 million in 2012 (although the Royals can always pay him the 2 million buyout instead), so he’s not cheap either. Over the last three seasons Betancourt has hit .278/.299/.392 while playing most of his games in Safeco. He doesn’t hit for a lot of power, but even if you assume Safeco suppressed him a bit, he’s still not a very good hitter. He’s a below average fielder at shortstop, and the whispers – which have became a bit more than that in the Seattle press – suggest he lacks work ethic.
The Royals give up Derrick Saito and Dan Cortes. Saito is a low-level reliever striking out a ton of batters, meanwhile Baseball America ranked Cortes as the third best prospect in the Royals system. I’m not a GM, I don’t know what Jack Zduriencik wanted for Betancourt, but Cortes seems like a lot for a perpetually below average shortstop.
If adding playing time threats, benching, closed door meetings, and a team in contention didn’t snap Betancourt into focus, then what will? Even if the Mariners are picking up most of the tab, which we don’t know at this point, it’s still a questionable gamble for Dayton Moore.
The Royals still desperately need a shortstop.