by John Viril—
The Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres are mirror images of each other. Kansas City stands 34-34 while the Padres are a half-game better at 35-34. Yet, they have achieved their success by completely different means. The Royals have just pulled back to .500 by preventing enough runs to keep an anemic offense afloat. Meanwhile, the Padres position players have accumulated the 2nd highest fWAR in the National League to carry a below replacement-level pitching staff.
If these two teams want to stay in contention, they need cut a deal with one another. The Padres have excess hitting, while the Royals have excess pitching—especially with 2012 starters Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino soon to return from rehab assignments in the minors.
The two clubs match up too well for a deal not to happen.
Right now, the Padres have multiple effective utility players sitting on their bench and power-hitting outfielder Kyle Blanks unable to crack the lineup. The Royals lead the American League in ERA, and need to make room for two returning starters and have major league quality relievers parked in AAA. The Royals could very much help the Padres by supplying a replacement for Clayton Richard’s 7.10 ERA for their rotation and bullpen help.
The deal I suggest would be for the Padres to move Blanks and former 1st round draft pick 2B Logan Forsythe for Felipe Paulino and a bullpen arm like Aaron Crow. If the Padres would like a 2nd player with the ability to start, maybe the Royals could unload Luke Hochevar.
26-year-old Blanks is hitting .282/.362/.507 with 11 home runs in 163 plate appearances. He’s a big (6’6, 265lbs) corner outfielder/1st baseman with plenty of power. For his career, he’s a more modest .236/.327/.443 in 651 plate appearances spread over 5 seasons. What I like about Blanks is not only does he help the power-challenged Royals with home runs, he also shows good patience at the plate. He has a solid 8.6% walk rate for his career.
Forsythe is now parked on the San Diego bench with the emergence of rookie 2nd baseman Jedd Gyorko. Also 26, Forsythe started the 2nd half of last season at 2nd for San Diego and can also play 3B and short. Forsythe hit .273/.343/.390 last season.
One potential problem with this deal is recent reports of a stiff back for Paulino. And, Paulino would need to show his arm is healthy after Tommy John surgery. Even so, he’s the best match for Kyle Blanks because Paulino has no. 2 starter stuff. Both are in their late 20′s and have flashed potential without establishing themselves in the major leagues. Each has intriguing upside for low cost.
Such a deal could solve the biggest problems for two flawed teams. Both the Royals and Padres need help if they want to realize their playoff hopes. Perhaps these exact players don’t match up in the view of each organization, but there has to be a deal somewhere given each team’s strengths and weaknesses.