The second trade of the 2012 off-season has been struck between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Kansas City Royals. Veteran right-handed starting pitcher Ervin Santana and one million dollars are headed to Kansas City in exchange for left-handed minor league pitching prospect Brandon Sisk.
This move is clearly an attempt to shed cash from the Angels’ payroll and redeem something/anything of value from the oft-ineffective Santana and his hefty $13 million club option for 2013. The Angels were wise to trade Santana rather than let him walk via free agency and likewise the Royals were wise to add a veteran starting pitcher, their biggest area of need, by locking up Santana for the 2013 season before the rest of the Major Leagues had a chance to bid on him. This move looks to be a win-win for both clubs as the Angels will try and resign Zack Grienke and will need all the cash they can get to swing that type of deal. Likewise the Royals, who are rarely atop prospective free agents destinations, got a solid major league proven pitcher who can help eat through some much needed innings and more importantly can be a beacon of hope to fans that GM Dayton Moore and the Royals ownership are serious about fixing one of the leagues worst rotations.
Since this is Seedlings to Stars the prospect in question, Brandon Sisk, is more of our focus. Let’s jump right in and see what, if anything, Sisk has to offer the Angels going forward.
Brandon Sisk, 27, was signed as a minor league free agent in 2008 and has spent the entirety of his minor league career within the Royals organization. In his time down on the farm he pitched to a very respectable 2.75 ERA with 317 strikeouts in 291 1/3 innings almost exclusively in relief. In 2012 he spent the entire season with Triple-A Omaha and led the team in saves and posted a very good 9.8 K/9 rate to go along with a strong 2.54 ERA over 67 1/3 innings. He is old for a prospect but the numbers reflect that he has value and he has performed well at each stop throughout his professional journey. I would expect the Angels to give him an opportunity to contribute or at the very least audition for a role as a left-handed specialist considering he has dominated left-handed hitting throughout his minor league career. I think a best case scenario is that Sisk gets an invite to Spring Training 2013 with the Angels and dominates enough to earn a spot as a lefty specialist but realistically he will probably spend some time down at Triple-A Salt Lake City with a chance to fill in for injuries or general ineffectiveness if necessary at some point in 2013. When all is said and done I think Sisk can be a real contributor but at the Major League level he will need to be focused on improving his command and find his niche as a LOOGY (Lefty One Out Guy).
This trade is certainly not a blockbuster and will more than likely end up as one of the more subtle deals made this off-season but more importantly this trade highlights the philosophy and direction that each organization is heading in for 2013 and beyond. The Angels were able to salvage some value out of what could have been a zero gain scenario (declining Santana’s option and letting him leave via free agency) as they bide their time to bid on their first choice – Zack Grienke. Meanwhile the Royals were able to show their fans and current players that they are committed to getting better and improving by all means necessary.
Is Ervin Santana the solution to the Royals starting pitching woes? Not by a long shot, but he is a significant upgrade. He is only one season removed from posting a 3.38 ERA and 178 strikeouts over 228 2/3 innings of work and his presence on the 2013 roster will allow the players down on the farm to continue their development without internal organizational pressure to move too quickly while also allowing the current group of starters (Bruce Chen, Luis Mendoza, Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino, etc) to lean on an experienced arm every fifth day. The Royals bullpen should also be excited by this move too as, if everything works out, they will have less of a responsibility to work more than their fair share of innings like they had to do in 2012. If win-win scenarios truly exist this might very well be one of them.