The Alberto Callaspo Trade: Royals Perspective

It has been reported that Alberto Callaspo of the Royals has been traded to the Angels for pitchers Sean O’Sullivan and Will Smith. This could be the first of several trades the Royals make this year.

What the Royals lose in the trade:

The Royals traded off their starting third baseman this season since Alex Gordon was sent to the AAA team in Omaha to begin a move to the outfield. Callaspo has been hitting .275/.308/.410 with a wOBA of 0.312 this season. These numbers are similar to his career numbers of .283/.333/.406 wOBA of 0.323 making him an average to below average major league hitter over his career.

His defensive stats are better at his current position, 3rd base, compared to when he played 2nd base. His lifetime UZR/150 in 216 games at second base is -6.7, but has a 9.4 UZR/150 at third base in 111 games. Having seen most of the Royals games this year, Callaspo has looked smoother at third base vice second base.

The Royals will probably fill the void at third base with Wilson Betemit. I am sure that some people will be calling for Alex Gordon to move back to third. Alex and the team are happy with his move to the outfield. We are dealing with the Royals, so anything can happen, but I don’t see him moving back.

Wilson Betemit will be a stop gap at third base until prospect Mike Moustakas makes it to the majors. Betemit’s lifetime batting line of .263/.329/.444 is comparable to Callaspo’s line, but with a little more power. His defense though is a little worse with a -10.7 UZR/150 in 250 games at third base.

What the Royals get in the trade:

The Royals receive some much need needed pitching help. Currently two starters for the Royals are on the DL, Gil Meche and Luke Hochevar, with another, Anthony Lerew, rumored to be headed to the DL also. The Royals minors are loaded with some pitching talent, but all of it is in AA and lower.

Neither player gained is considered to be a top Angel prospect. Sullivan (age 21) has had a K/9 of 4.9 and BB/9 of 2.8 in 17 major league games. In the minors he averaged 6.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. Smith (age 20) has average 7.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 while in the minors. Both were pitching for the Angels AAA team at the time of the trade. Smith began the season at high A and has been promoted to the AAA team.

Neither pitcher seems ready to make an immediate impact on the major league team, but they may be called to help because of the injuries to the Royals starters. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sullivan pitch this weekend. They will allow the Royals highly touted prospects to stay in the minors and progress to the majors without a jumping a level.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.


29 Responses to “The Alberto Callaspo Trade: Royals Perspective”

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  1. Ben F says:

    Agreed. Callaspo wasn’t going to be in the long-term plans, so a young lefty prospect plus O’Sully–who has probably topped out but might be a #4/#5 with a little more seasoning–seems like an appropriate trade. I think the question will be whether the Royals sold low on Callaspo – is he the 0.320 wOBA hitter that you mentioned, or can he get back to his 2009 form where he was a much more patient, consistently hitter?

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  2. Daniel says:

    @Ben F

    Callaspo has a career .738 OPS (94 OPS+) in 1500 PAs. The Royals managed to get a good return (albeit risky) for a below average player. It’s the right thing to do.

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    • Ben F says:

      I don’t really feel like getting in a big discussion over this, but you can only trust that 94 OPS+ if you value his 23- and 24-year-old ABs the same as his 26- and 27-year-old ones. As I said in my comment, if 2009/2010 is his true talent (778 OPS, 107 OPS+), then the Angels look to come out ahead on this one; if 94+ OPS is his true talent, then the Royals do.

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  3. Jeff says:

    This trade doesn’t hurt the Royals, but I don’t think it is very good. Callaspo is slick-defensive 3rd baseman who’s shown plate discipline in the past. You would think they could get more than O’Sullivan (a horrid starter) and Smith(reliever with promise, but still very unproven in low minors). I say this with teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers in mind who may have given something better.

    What I do like about this trade is the inevitable callup of 3rd base prospect MIke Moustakas, who is ready for big league action.

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  4. Kevin says:

    Hey Jeff,

    Are you going to cover the Angels’ perspective? Looks like Maicer is once again going to lose well-deserved playing time.

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  5. Bannister19 says:

    Callaspo is nice because of his ability to play 3B, LF, and RF. He’s nothing amazing though.

    Betemit is pretty bad, but he seems to have revived this season, but he’s no where near a long term solution (Callaspo could be a long term solution due to his age and salary)

    O’Sullivan was a top prospect for the Angels for the last three years (07, 08, 09), including Pitcher of the Year in 07. He’s obviously shown nothing at the major league level until his last start against the Yankees (ironically his next start looks to be vs the Yankees as well)

    Royals also save giving Callapso a solid salary bump next year in ARB, and he is replaceable.

    Solid trade for both sides. Unless Callapso gains a whole lot of sudden power, we’ve seen what he can do (DP alot, weak range, lots of hits, no speed, some walks, not many strikeouts)

    O’Sullivan has a much higher ceiling, but we’ll see what he can do.

    FYI, Gordon won’t move back to 3B. We have Betemit, Bloomquist this year, for next year we have Moustakas and Josh Fields. 3Bs we have. Outfielders we don’t. And Gordon is no good at playing 3B, so why calls for him to move back are going on, is just the same old Royal and Dayton Moore-hating you can find at FanGraphs.

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    • Warden11 says:

      Callaspo’s ability to play RF and LF, where did you get that from? He’s played all of 13 games in his career.

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      • Bannister19 says:

        Sorry, I meant LF, 3B, and 2B, not RF.

        KC At The Bat, Gordon is a horrible defensive 3B. We have not one good outfield prospect. The move was good for all sides involved, because basically, Callapso and Moustakas would get 3B before Gordon ever gets it back.

        You obviously know nothing about the organization.

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  6. KC At The Bat says:

    Ah, so Callaspo was never going to be part of the Royals long-term plans. So, um…Gordon to the outfield ?…Um, yeah Kansas City has no idea what the hell they are doing. Let’s get back to contraction. That was a great idea that never happened. KC can get lost.

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  7. Daniel says:

    @KC At The Bat

    Is that what qualifies for a thought these days? Come back when you have something meaningful to say.

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  8. Andrew says:

    free Kila!

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  9. Adam says:

    Banny19…..callaspo hasnt played the outfield since his first weeks in KC years ago…..the only position he can play even halfway decent is 3B. And everyones right, he didn’t have a place long term with the royals, and I would rather see betemit get some pt anyways, because he’s seemingly the only royal hitting for any kind of power lately.

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  10. Chops says:

    I don’t get this move from an Angels point of view, they already have Maicer Izturis coming back and aren’t the Angels already hurting in pitching depth?

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  11. Brian says:

    ” Both were pitching for the Angels AAA team at the time of the trade.”

    Wrong. Sean O’Sullivan just pitched against the Yankees Tuesday night and only gave up two runs over six innings

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  12. Paul says:

    I like this deal for the Royals and I hope it is the first of many. If either guy they get back is on the roster in 5 years, either all that talent on the farm (Sickels said in a chat recently that it might be #1) didn’t pan out at all, or these guys exceed expectations so much that they keep guys like Chris Dwyer in the pen. Some reports indicate that Smith could be that type of guy, but really this is just a deal to keep adding depth so they don’t have to keep going out and overpaying a guy like Meche.

    Their next targets really need to be DeJesus and maybe Podsednik. I think Callaspo is every bit as valuable as DeJesus to most teams, so I’d love to see Dayton adjust his expectations there and pull the trigger on a similar deal for David.

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  13. Texas_Dawg says:

    Why did LAA not do this deal weeks ago? Are they planning on Callaspo being their 3B for years to come? Because their season is pretty much done now.

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    • BX says:

      I don’t think its impossible for them to get back in this, and Callaspo’s controlled beyond 2010. Texas is the best team in the AL West, but its not beyond reason to see a different team winning the division all said and done.

      If anything, he’s either an option at 3B or even 2B.

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  14. psmitty says:

    I know this is the wrong place to post this, but does anyone know where i can find xy movement values on pitches? I went to the player’s page but no dice(unless I’m missing something)… anything beyond a flame would be much appreciated…

    p.s. dejesus should stay under royals control this year given his contract situation…but overall i like the move (angels are giving the pennant to the rangers)…can’t wait until they really start selling pieces…

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  15. Chris H says:

    Angels rushed both of them through their system. Royals should send Smith to AA and release Edgar Osuna. Ideally, O’Sullivan would go to AAA, but he may end up pitching this weekend. They’re both very talented and young though. Royals win.

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  16. mcneo says:

    @Chris H
    Is that you Disco?

    Sounds like GM DM made a decent move, should be good. Two guys who could pan out who are under team control for some time. Might even turn out to be good players. It’s worth the gamble.

    I did like Callaspo last year. In a year of sucky offense, he stood out.

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  17. Joey B says:

    I like it for KC. Callaspo was a marginal player for them. They might’ve added a #4/5 and a BP arm. Teams like KC need about 15 of these type of semi-productive, minimum wage players if they hope to compete. Guys like Greinke are great, but a $75M payroll only supports a small number of those types of players, even given his favorable contract.

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