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Wil Myers, Keeper?

I sat at my desk during my lunch break yesterday in search of inspiration for today’s piece. On the verge of giving up and right before I was to begin doing whatever it is lawyers do I noticed Matt Klassen was chatting here at Fangraphs. I quickly scanned his chat and ran across a question that asked whether or not a fantasy owner should keep Hunter Pence or Wil Myers this off-season. The question was enough to remind that our own David Laurila interviewed Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year just two short days ago. Ah, inspiration! Myers is obviously worth owning should your league’s rules allow you to keep even one minor leaguer on your roster without penalty. But, if that’s not the case and minor leaguers are part of your entire roster pool you need to consider the following discussion.

As far as decisions about prospects go Dayton Moore jettisoning Myers in Omaha for the season was among the most frustrating to fantasy owners this year. It’s equally frustrating attempting to discern Moore’s motives. On May 15 Myers was called up to Omaha while he was sporting a 218 wRC+ with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and the Royals were just four and half games back of the division lead. At that juncture, if the right fielder’s contract was purchased and he split time in center and right field he would undoubtedly been a super-two under the new expanded system. For a mid-market team like Royals avoiding super-two status is understandably desirable.

And an argument based on that logic is reasonable, except when one considers the small fact that Dayton Moore did not employ similar logical when dealing with Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. You may recall that Eric Hosmer made his debut on May 6th of last season, effectively ending the Kila Ka’aihue experiment. Due to his early call up, Hosmer is now projected to have four years of arbitration eligibility rather than three. Other wise known as super-two. On the other hand, Moustakas debuted June 10th, avoiding super-two and an extra year of arbitration. Both decisions were completely in Moore’s control. Yet, two decisions made a month apart will have significant financial implications for the club.

At this point it should clear that Moore wasn’t waiting for the super-two window elapse. If he was, the General Manager would have called up Myers when he felt the window had passed. He did not. Moreover, a call up following the super-two period would have had zero negative contractual ramifications. So why not call up Myers?

Jeff Francoeur.

Francoeur’s career saw a revival in 2011 and he was rewarded by ownership with a two year $13.5M contract. On June 20 with the Royals once again just 4.5 games back in the division and the super-two window safely in the rear-view mirror Francouer’s OPS was a meager .707. Maybe Moore wasn’t optimistic about the team’s chances or maybe he truly felt Francoeur was the better option. Either way, he opted to keep baseball’s best smile in right field and possibly their best bat in Omaha chasing storms while the team was reasonable close to a playoff spot. Through the trade deadline and wavier period Francoeur batted .188/.258/.312 and any chance of them dealing him evaporated.

So what’s the point? Clearly Dayton Moore had faith in Francoeur’s ability to repeat his 2011 season or provide some sort of intangible value to the Royals’ clubhouse. If he didn’t, he would not have extended him in the first place. There is strong belief in Kansas City that Moore still believes in Francoeur’s ability and will give him the opportunity to regain value in 2013 rather than cut the right fielder and swallow a big loss. For Myers, that could spell an indefinite stay in Omaha. Can you team afford to have one of it’s keepers toiling in Triple-A for even a month? Unlikely.

Though, it’s possible Kansas City sticks with Francoeur and shuffles their lineup to gain some desperately help on the mound. Maybe Myers starts the season with Kansas city and sees time in center, right, and third base. But as far as top prospects go, Myers future is far too unclear use a Major League keeper slot on him.