AJ for Clint Robinson would make sense
AJ Burnett trade rumors are in no short supply. We’ve heard Pittsburgh and Seattle as possible scenarios but Dan Martin of the NY Post brought up the Kansas City Royals today. Martin says “the Pirates and Royals among the teams most actively looking into acquiring Burnett.”
To me the Royals are an intriguing possible trade partner because they have what the Yankees are looking for in return – hitters, more to the point young hitters. We know the Yanks sought lefty DH/OF Garrett Jones from Pittsburgh and were supposedly re-buffed, so who would make sense to get back in return from KC?
I wrote about the perfect fit Billy Butler would be a couple of weeks ago, but he would require much more than AJ (think Betances and more) and there is no way KC would part with their young lefty hitters, 1B Eric Hosmer or OF Alex Gordon. However, the Royals have a player in AAA ready for the big leagues but is blocked by the aforementioned Butler, Hosmer & Gordon – his name is Clint Robinson.
Robinson, 26, is a 6’5″ 235 pound lefty hitting 1B/DH who has nothing more to prove in the minor leagues. In 2010, he won the AA Triple Crown with a .335-29-98 line that included a .410 OBP & .625 SLG. Promoted to AAA in 2011, he kept hitting, posting a .326-23-100 line with a .399/.533/.932 OPS. He was drafted in the 25th round in 2007 and is not considered a big time prospect because of his draft position, relatively modest stats in A ball and lack of defensive skills. But through hard work and back to back monster years, he’s ready for prime time. I should temper the expectations a little with the disclaimer that the numbers put up in 2011 were in the notoriously hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. However, the guy can obviously hit.
KC Director of Minor League Operations Scott Sharp was quoted on MILB.com regarding Robinson:
“An offensive force,” Sharp said. “Left-handed power with tremendous ability to use the entire field. He has patience at the plate and good strike-zone discipline. He continues to improve defensively and has taken some reps in left field.”
That is what clinched it for me. He’s not just a masher but a guy with power who uses the whole field, has patience and knows the strike zone. He struck out just 88 times in 561PAs in 2011 and 86 times in 535 PAs in 2010. Robinson would be a great candidate for Left-handed DH platoon as he destroyed RHP last yr to the tune of a .330 batting average and .418/.561/.979 split.
I think if the Yanks ate $23-25M of Burnett’s salary, they could definitely expect to get Robinson in return. KC has floated his name around this Winter in trade talks since teams know he can hit but they simply don’t have a spot for him. They do however, have a glaring need for a veteran pitcher who can eat innings. The Royals have a lot of talented young pitchers but they will be babied and can’t be counted on to supply 180-200 IP. AJ could soak up innings while the kids grow and would probably be more comfortable in Kansas City since it’s close to his native Arkansas.
Some fans have mentioned the Yanks should give Jorge Vazquez a shot at the DH for his performance in AAA. Problem is JoVa’s right-handed, strikes out a ton, doesn’t walk or hit for average and is 30 yrs old. Robinson is 26/27, lefty, controls the zone and hits for average and power. I really think he would be a good fit. What do you guys think?