Every once in a while I like to throw out a wild trade idea in the It’s Just Speculation section. They don’t always make complete sense, but they’re fun to debate regardless. This time around it’s Jair Jurrjens, an All-Star pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. Yes, the Braves already dealt away Derek Lowe from their starting rotation and noted that they are happy with the depth they have, but GM Frank Wren hasn’t specifically stated that they wouldn’t trade from their strength again.
Current Royals GM Dayton Moore has already stated that it is his desire to improve the top of the Royals’ starting rotation this offseason and he’s not opposed to using prospects from his deep farm system to do it. With the team’s lack of payroll flexibility, taking the trade route is obviously Moore’s best option.
Yet there’s not much upper-tier talent available on the trade market. Other than the Tampa Bay Rays and the Atlanta Braves, who are overflowing with good, young pitching, other teams are hoarding their best pitchers in hopes of contention next season. The Braves in particular are an interesting trade partner for the Royals. Moore has been known to acquire a couple ex-Braves….ok, plenty of ex-Braves. Although Jair Jurrjens wasn’t on the Braves when Moore was hired by the Royals, Jair should be enticing for him nonetheless.
With the Scott Boras client inching towards free agency and the desire to place more of their young pitching firmly into the rotation, the Braves may be inclined to trade Jurrjens for some offensive help. But where can the Royals spare an offensive player good enough to entice the Braves? What about Alex Gordon? After a breakout season, Gordon is entering his arbitration years and is starting to get more costly, much like Jurrjens. Gordon would fill the void that the Braves have had in left field for a while as well as inject a little additional speed into the lineup, a target of GM Frank Wren lately.
But can the Royals give up such an important cog in their lineup? Eric Hosmer will be entering his first full season in the majors and is a likely candidate to break out. His teammate across the diamond, Mike Moustakas, struggled early last season, but really turned it on the final month (.352/.380/.580). If both break out, they could certainly take up the slack. As for the hole in left, Lorenzo Cain has strikeout issues, but is essentially ready for a long-term trial in Kansas City. If Cain doesn’t work out a couple months into the season, top hitting prospect Wil Myers may be able to take his spot. Although Myers had a down season at the plate in 2011, he’s tearing up the Arizona Fall League (.338/.471/.632, 17/16 BB/K) and could be on the fast track tot he big leagues if he keeps it up.
Of course other players would likely be involved in such a deal, but it is an intriguing proposition. The Atlanta Braves recently sent Jurrjens to the instructional league for a start at the end of the season instead of shutting him down completely. It could be that they were parading him as healthy again for a possible trade.
Withnow out of the rotation, the Braves may be more unlikely to pull the trigger on such a trade and have too much inexperience in the rotation. But the idea’s not completely too far-fetched.