Royals add to collection of terrible shortstops by acquiring Betancourt

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Two and a half years later, the Royals finally got their man. It’s
believed that they offered Billy Butler to the Mariners for Yuniesky
Betancourt after a 2006 season in which Betancourt, then 25, hit
.289/.310/.403 in his first full year as a big leaguer. The Mariners
saw Betancourt as a future Gold Glover who would likely improve
offensively with more experience and turned them down.

Betancourt, of course, never improved. He hit at roughly the same
level in 2007 and 2008, but his defense declined enormously as he added
weight and lost range. Things got even worse this year, as he
completely stopped hitting after the first month of the season, coming
in at .214/.277/.274 in May and .234/.258/.297 in 64 at-bats before
landing on the DL in June. According to Ultimate Zone Rating, he was
also baseball’s worst regular shortstop
defensively. And this is no longer a case where the numbers and the
scouts disagree: no one would argue that Betancourt has looked anything
other than atrocious on defense this year.

Betancourt was known to be on the block, and it came as no surprise
to see him land with the Royals. What is shocking is that Kansas City
gave up Daniel Cortes to make it happen. Cortes, a 6-foot-6
right-hander, appeared to be shaping up as one of the game’s top 25
pitching prospects in 2007 and early 2008. His stock dropped as his
command regressed, but he was still arguably the most interesting arm
in the Royals’ farm system. He was 6-6 with a 3.92 ERA, 77 H and 57/50
K/BB in 80 1/3 IP for Double-A Northwest Arkansas this season. It may
be that he’ll end up in the pen, but he could be a force in the late
innings.

Also traded was 21-year-old lefty Derrick Saito. A pure reliever, he
had a 4.15 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB in 52 innings for low Single-A
Burlington. The possibility exists that he’ll make it to the majors as
a specialist, though his size — he’s just 5-foot-9 — could work
against him.

Philosophically, the Royals may have their hearts in the right place
here. With their 2009 season having fallen apart, looking for
high-upside talents to gamble on is a good idea and shortstop is the
biggest hole in the organization. Betancourt, though, seems like a long
shot to ever again resemble an above average regular. He’d have to show
a much greater commitment than he has so far. It’s a must that he get
into better shape, and he also needs to find someone to help him with
his footwork at shortstop. He’s probably never going to change as a
hitter, but if he were a quality defensive shortstop, it’d be easy to
live with him at the bottom of the lineup. As is, he’s on a path that
will see him out of the majors once his current four-year, $13.75
million deal expires after 2011.

Report: Rangers to receive Matt Moore from Giants

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John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Giants have traded left-hander Matt Moore to the Rangers. The deal is pending a physical and has yet to be confirmed by the clubs. Shea adds that the Rangers are expected to receive several prospects in return.

Moore, 28, was brought over to the Giants in 2016 in a deadline swap for shortstop Matt Duffy and two minor leaguers. He went 6-15 in his first full season with the Giants, producing a 5.52 ERA, 3.5 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 through 32 starts and 174 1/3 innings in 2017. Moore stands to earn $9 million in 2018 and has a $10 million club option (and $1 million buyout) on his contract in 2019.

According to both Shea and Henry Schulman, the move is part of the Giants’ ongoing quest to shed payroll this offseason. After missing out on Giancarlo Stanton, the club still needs reinforcements in the outfield and will have to fill a void at third base as well — all while steering clear of the luxury tax threshold. Right fielder Hunter Pence has reportedly been floated as a trade option, but has a full no-trade clause and will likely be harder to move. The Rangers, meanwhile, will add Moore to a starting rotation that already boasts left-handers Cole Hamels, Mike Minor and Martin Perez.