August 13, 2014
Royals' Struggling Offense Adds Struggling Offensive Player
Rumor has it that, in the weeks preceding the trade deadline, Dayton Moore shopped around for a right-handed hitter. Enough had changed since—Eric Hosmer is hurt, the Royals are in first place, etc.—that Moore resumed his pursuit sometime after the deadline. Hence Willingham, a free agent at season's end, as the Royals' newest addition and (likely) designated hitter.
Willingham, clearly in the decline phase of his career, has transitioned from well rounded into something of a three-true outcomes hitter. That's not to suggest his entire offensive game is home runs, walks, and strikeouts; it's not, he doubles a lot and gets hit by plenty of pitches still. But Willingham's average is nearing the point where his on-base skills and power production are no longer enough. The good news, for Kansas City, is that he's been an above-average hitter thus far this season.
The bad news then is two-sided: 1) Willingham has posted just a .686 OPS in the second half, yet 2) that's better than Raul Ibanez's OPS with the Royals, and about even with Hosmer's seasonal mark. Consider that as good an explanation as any for why Moore made this trade. —R.J. Anderson
Acquired RHP Jason Adam from the Royals in exchange for OF-R Josh Willingham. [8/11
Adam brings a big, mature Kansas frame to the mound and is all of his listed 6-foot-4, 220 lbs. He is physically maxed out and has the build to withstand the longevity of a complete season, making him a viable candidate to be named “an innings-eating workhorse.” Adam pitches with a simple delivery, and his improved tempo and further incorporation of his legs have allowed him to retain his velocity and pitch deeper into games. He comes from a three-quarters arm slot with average arm speed coming from a small arm circle, allowing him to get great extension and throw with average downhill plane.
Adam's fastball works in the 91-95 mph range with sinking action and he fills up the bottom of the strike zone. It projects as a plus pitch at the highest level and sets him up for his secondary offerings. Coming from the same arm speed/motion, Adam will throw a sinking changeup in the 82-85 range. It will flash higher but, due to loose command within the strike zone, it projects to be average. Adam's better secondary offering is a curveball that sits in the 75-79 range. It is tight-spinning hook with 11-5 shape, good depth and some bite. Flashing plus at times, it projects more as a solid-average offering. Adding up the pieces—strong build, average-to-plus offerings and an average command profile—and you have yourself left with a back-of-the-rotation starting pitcher with a long-reliever floor. A nice return for a struggling, aging right-handed outfielder. —CJ Wittmann
Claimed RHP Jerome Williams off waivers from the Rangers; designated RHP Sean O'Sullivan for assignment. [8/10]
A horizontal move. O'Sullivan started twice for the Phillies and pitched poorly—in his last outing, he allowed three home runs against the Astros. Williams started twice for the Rangers and performed just as bad. PECOTA projects a 4.72 ERA for O'Sullivan, a 4.73 ERA for Williams. All of that suggests swapping one for the other is pointless, but the Phillies favor Williams for whatever reason. Either way, Williams' job is the same as it was in Houston and Texas: eat innings and be a supportive teammate. Anything more is a bonus. —R.J. Anderson
Claimed INF-R Tommy Field off waivers from the Angels; optioned him to Triple-A Indianapolis. [8/10]
Over the past five weeks, the Pirates have acquired three utility-infielder types: Dean Anna (recently designated for assignment), Jayson Nix, and now Field. Field is used to the routine, having been claimed off waivers twice before. What do teams like about him? Probably that he can do a little bit of everything, and has enjoyed success in the minors. What don't teams like about him? Probably that he can't do a whole of anything, and has struggled in the majors. Field will serve as organizational depth for the Pirates. He might get a September callup. —R.J. Anderson
R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @r_j_anderson