After being traded to the Braves in the rickety salary dump side car portion of the Craig Kimbrel trade, Carlos Quentin is likely headed for baseball limbo ... A silent land, scoured with salt and ash -- as Cormac McCarthy might put it.
In my humble opinion, McCarthy became the literary mascot of Royals Review when esteemed commenter Nighthawk at the Diner (AKA Wordy Ginters) wrote this exceptional McCarthy "karaoke," in which the author of No Country For Old Men reported on the Royals in Surprise, Arizona during spring training circa 2013. It's a delightful read -- if you haven't yet, treat yourself to it -- that contextualized the nimble milieu of this site for me when I first started browsing its digital pages two years ago. That "karaoke," as Nighthawk calls it, has fluttered around in the back of my mind every time I have opened the story editor here, and now, for whatever reason, it has manifested itself in the form of a speculative piece about the Royals considering Carlos Quentin as a cheap bench bat. Sorry, Wordy and Cormac.
People don't pay attention. And then one day there's an accounting. And after that, nothing is the same.
All of this vaguely relates to Old Quent (no one calls him that) in that the 32-year-old outfielder is expected to become a free agent rather soon, unless the Braves can find an American League club that is willing to take on the $11 million still owed to him. Quentin was decidedly not good last year, but his salary of $8 million (plus a $3 million buyout for 2016) will be much easier for the Braves to eat than Melvin Upton, Jr.'s remaining $46 million-plus would have been. Atlanta will try to move Quentin, but the chances of that happening don't seem great; and after designating him for assignment less than 90 minutes after acquiring him, they are prepared to release him if they can't find a buyer. The Oakland Athletics were said to have some interest, but they opted to sign former Diamondback Cody Ross instead.
Baseball Prospectus' Matthew Trueblood doesn't see any obvious fits for Quentin on the Junior Circuit, but he does see the potential for teams to buck recent trends and gain an edge by adding a bench bat in lieu of a seventh reliever.
The Royals are currently carrying seven relievers in Greg Holland, Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Jason Frasor, Ryan Madson, Franklin Morales, and Chris Young. The first four guys on that list are vital to the bullpen remaining a major strength for the Royals, and Morales is the only lefty in the group so he's likely to hang in there. That leaves Young and Madson as the guys that could potentially be replaced for a bench bat, as Trueblood suggests. However, the Royals could also demote Paulo Orlando if they were interested in targeting Quentin when he becomes a free agent.
In any event, Quentin will likely be resigned to searching for a bench role now that his time in San Diego (and Atlanta) is over.
For things at a common destination there is a common path. Not always easy to see. But there.
Four games in, Dayton Moore's offseason strategy of scooping up formerly productive players on short-term deals seems to be working out pretty well. Who knows if it will last; but so far Edison Volquez has put together a fantastic start, Alex Rios has been the best hitter on the team, and Kendrys Morales is making a little noise batting cleanup. Again, these moves might look foolish by the time summer rolls around, and it's only been four games, but the early returns on Moore's risky investments might be enough to get him to roll the dice again on Quentin.
Maybe risks like these will come back to bite him like a captive bolt pistol, but if you're going to take three risks on crumbly veterans, what's the harm in stretching that out to four -- especially if the cost isn't prohibitive?
I tried to put things in perspective but sometimes you're just too close to it.
Personally, I've never been a big fan of Quentin's. And it seems as though most Royals fans feel the same way. From his time with the White Sox to his silly fight with former Royal Zack Greinke in San Diego, he's done little to endear himself to Kansas City. He's also coming off of a horrible season with the Padres in which he batted .177/.284/.315 over 155 plate appearances.
However, prior to his injury-riddled 2014 campaign, Quentin was a pretty productive -- and split-proof -- hitter. In his career, the right-handed hitter has a .357 wOBA and a 120 wRC+ against lefties and a .362 wOBA (122 wRC+) against same-siders. He's not likely to hit like he did in 2008 when he finished fifth in AL MVP balloting, but he could provide some pop and patience off the bench -- and a little insurance in the event that one of the Royals regular outfielders goes down with an injury.
Nothin wounded goes uphill. It just dont happen.
Carlos Quentin was involved in a trade with a DL'd player, and it wasn't him. @cantpredictball— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) April 5, 2015
Quentin has been placed on the disabled list eight times in his career, and he also had Tommy John surgery in 2003 while he was in the minors. The contents of his knees could probably be spread rather smoothly over a piece of toast at this point, so there's certainly a risk that he'll never be the same player he once was. On the other hand, he has dealt with similar knee injuries for years and remained productive in Petco -- especially after being relegated to a part-time role. If he can hit .268/.368/.498 with 29 homers and 90 runs batted in there, he can probably manage decent line at Kauffman -- assuming he's at least moderately healthy.
What's the most you ever saw lost on a coin toss?
If Quentin doesn't get traded by the Braves, he could garner a little attention on the free agent market, but at this point, it seems unlikely that he'll cause a massive front office scramble for his services. However, if the Royals sign him, they will only be responsible for a pro-rated portion of the league minimum. The Braves would be forced to pay the rest. If he fails, they could just recall Paulo Orlando. But if he finds a groove on the bench, he might provide the reigning AL Champs with considerable value at a mitigated cost.
In reading this, you might be thinking, "(Tyler,) Do you have any notion of how goddamned crazy you are?" And you might be right. It might be a horrible idea. Maybe I'm just swept up in the creaky, four-game renaissance of the Royals' aged winter acquisitions, but Quentin seems as though he could provide Kansas City with a horn of fire off the bench -- about the color of the moon -- but then again, he might be carrying it out ahead of them in all that dark and all that cold.