Royals Acquire Mike Jacobs for Some Reason

It was inescapable:

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals acquired power-hitting first baseman Mike Jacobs from the Florida Marlins on Thursday for right-handed reliever Leo Nunez.

Jacobs, who turned 28 on Thursday, should answer the Royals' need for a proven power hitter. He had career highs of 32 home runs and 93 RBIs for the Marlins last season. A left-handed hitter, he batted .247 and had an on-base percentage of .299.

(Note: I've disabled the comments on the various Jacobs posts that have been popping up so we can have all the discussion funneled to one place. The Royals blogosphere has been abuzz about this possible trade for days, and this site has been no different.)

Well, this is right out of the blueprint. With pitching the currency of baseball, Dayton Moore has used some of his change to acquire Mike Jacobs. Isn't incredible that Dick Kaegel even included his anemic OBP in the second paragraph? As devil fingers put it today, Dayton values power at the corners... and nothing else.

A Kaegel reminds us:

Jacobs, is eligible for arbitration for the first time, and his salary is expected to rise to roughly $3.5 million in 2009.

The addition of Jacobs creates an even bigger jam at first base for the Royals, who already have Ryan Shealy, Ross Gload, Billy Butler and Kila Ka'aihue lined up there.

Now, Jacobs did hit 32 home runs last season, and is about to turn 28, so its not like they've just acquired Dougie Mientkiewicz. He could even slug .500, though in adjusting to the better league, I wouldn't bet on that happening. In some respects he isn't even peaking as a player:

PA BA OBP SLG
'05 110 .310 .375 .710
''06 514 .262 .325 .473
'07 457 .265 .317 .458
'08 513 .247 .299 .514

 

I wouldn't go so far as to say he's declining, so much as he's morphing into a latter day Rico Brogna.

You know what would have been cool? Acquiring Jacobs three years ago, especially since he was paid under $400,000 annually to be Nick Swisher without the walks. Still, even at say, Kaegel's guess of $3.5 M, he's a relatively inexpensive player. He's not cheap, but its basically an irrelevant figure salary wise given that it would be hard to see this effecting additional moves, which is all that matters.

Which returns us to Nunez and the effectual payment made. Considering that there were rumors that Carlos Rosa and Ramon Ramirez were rumored to be potential Jacobs fodder, I'm happy that it was Nunez instead.

However...

However...

Nunez will be just 25 next season and is coming off his best season, having posted a 2.98 ERA in 48.3 IP, good for a +143 ERA+. Leo's FIP was also a healthy 3.75 (only two homers allowed), and he allowed the lowest LD% of his career (17.9%). Nunez may not have Rosa's potential (which also may never happen) or Ram-Ram's overall sexiness, nor is he a safe bet health wise, but he is a useful pitcher, and the Royals bullpen was much better when he was a part of it. Stay tuned for a heartfelt "Remembering Leo Nunez" post sometime this winter.

More than anything else, it comes down to whether the additional runs from upgrading from Shealy/Kila to Jacobs makes up for losing Nunez. For now, that's 80% of the issue as I see it. I haven't cruched the numbers, but here in October, that looks like more or less a wash. There are some marginal issues however, and almost all them come up as negatives. Let's run another table:

                                           
Positives Negatives
- Jacobs does have power. - Cost a useful Nunez and possibility of Nunez breakout.
- Some possibility of a MJ breakout. - Hackfest continues.
- Jacobs is better than Gload, I think. - Addition of a negative glove & baserunner.
- Opportunity cost of giving Kila/Shealy more of a look & lost potential of their breakout. Additional opp. cost of signing a better option at 1B/DH.
- Weird move & increased logjam at 1B/DH raises possibility of future sup-optimal decisions.

 

Grade: Jacobs has legitimate power and should be an upgrade over Gload. Unfortuately, that isn't really a useful standard. Losing Nunez isn't a disaster, but considering the Royals already had upgrades over Gload on hand, and that 1B/DH is the easiest position to fill, the trade just seems, in a best case scenario, pointless. Questions about Moore's ability to build a lineup unfortunately must continue. C

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