Note: I originally assumed Johnson had two years left on his contract. I am not going to completely rewrite the article, but will adjust some of the trade values and proposals.
With the Royals desperately in need of starting pitching, I propose that the Royals and the Marlins should get together and work out a trade that would send Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and/or Mark Buehrle to the Royals to help solidify the starting pitching staff over the next couple of years.
This proposal is a win-win for both sides. First, the Florida Marlins are needing to dump payroll. The Marlins over spent this past off-season. They didn't have the projected attendance to pay for the increase in salaries and need payroll relief. For the Royals, it provides the Best Farm System in Baseball the opportunity to produce its first productive, healthy starter and not have to use free agency to fill the starting pitching void.
To begin with here is a quick look at the Marlins pitchers. Some of the Marlins top payroll payouts in 2013 will be to these three starting pitchers.
Josh Johnson: $13.75M
Mark Buehrle: $12M
Ricky Nolasco: $11.5M
Besides just 2013, Buehrle is owed money beyond that point.
Besides the salaries, here is how the trio has pitched over the past three seasons.
Johnson is by far the best of the 3, when he is healthy ( not 2011), and should be a 3-4 WAR pitcher over the next two seasons. One concern is that his average fastball speed has declined each of the past 3 seasons from a high of 95 in 2009 to 93 last season.
Nolasco has been a league average pitcher over that last few seasons. This basically equates to being the Ace on the Royals staff. He has also seen some velocity drop as he has aged.
Buehrle, and his rubber left arm, is still himself. He doesn't walk anyone, but doesn't really strike anyone out either. He is a work horse that has thrown over 200 innings in 12 seasons and has never been on the disabled list. He looks to produce between 2-3 wins a season.
Next, I found the amount of value each of these pitchers should produce over the life of their contracts. To get these values, I took the pitcher's salary, the estimated number of WAR they will generate, the amount of free agent dollars spent per WAR, the amount of dollars a team would have to spent on the free agent market to get a similar player (Value) and the difference between the Salary and the Value of each pitcher.
|Johnson||Salary (millions)||Estimated WAR||$ Spent/WAR||Value||Value - Cost|
Johnson's contract looks like a team friendly deal, Nolasco's is about right and Buehle's turns into an albatross starting in 2014.
The key, in my opinion, is for the Royals to end up with Johnson and one of the other two. Ideally, the Nolasco would be the best fit for the Royals. He would only be with the Royals for one season and at that point, Zimmer, Duffy, Paulino and hopefully some other prospect would all be ready to contribute at the major league level.
Stealing Scott McKinney's work in his FanPost, "A Plan for 2013", he put together a plan with the Royals adding 2 free agent pitchers for a total of $28M. Nolasco and Johnson put the Royals just under $26M and give the Royals a couple million to go bottom feeding for other pitchers.
The main issue with getting getting these two Marlin pitchers is that it will probably take Gordon, Butler, Perez or Myers to make the trade happen. The Marlins are giving up some good pitchers and they would expect a good, cost controlled player in return. I would see them desire Myers because of his low costs the next 3 seasons. A couple of C prospects and/or bullpen arms would probably also have to be added in to make the trade work for the Royals.
The 2nd option would have Johnson and Buehrle going to the Royals. With this proposal, the Royals would eat up Buehrle's 2014 and 2015 salary. Those two years are way over priced compared to his production. The Royals will be seeing a revenue boost starting in 2014 from new TV contracts with Fox and ESPN, so the large salary will be easier to absorb. With the second option, the Royals have more control over the trade and don't need to give up as much.
The Royals would need to send just a small amount of talent with the Marlins not helping at all with Buehrle's contract. A couple of B/C prospects, AAAA players and/or bullpen arms should be all that is needed.
I believe the Royals should take it one step further and get rid of one of their own problems by moving Francoeur in the trade. Francoeur's salary is over priced, but I don't think moving the salary is the biggest advantage. It will be nice to get Frenchy off the team so Wil Myers can smoothly move into RF with no pouting from Francoeur when he has to ride the pine for nine. It may cost the Royals an extra low level prospect, but the Royals can move on from the Francoeur era.
Trade #2 (and the ideal trade for both sides in my opinion):
Buehrle and Johnson go to the Royals for Francoeur, Herrera, Jason Adam (or Yordano Ventura) and Jarrod Dyson (or Cain).Buehrle and Johnson go to the Royals for Francoeur, Herrera, Jason Adam (or Yordano Ventura) and Jarrod Dyson (or Cain).
I may have been short changing the Marlins a bit on the first proposal thinking Johnson had two seasons of control left.
With this plan, the Royals don't give up a ton of talent and just hamstring the payroll a bit in 2014 and 2015. But if Dayton Moore is correct, the major league ready, cost controlled, starting pitching should just be flowing out of the minor league system in a couple of years .
The Royals need starting pitching. The Marlins need salary relief. I think both sides could work something out that helps both sides. Get it done Dayton.