RC analysis: The MacDougal trade

The last 48 hours have seen Royals GM Dayton Moore pull the trigger on three trades that have added a pair of pitchers to the Major League roster, and four more to the minor leagues. Over the next several days, RC will evaluate the deals, and we begin today with the trade that sent Mike MacDougal to the White Sox.

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Mike MacDougal for Tyler Lumsden and Daniel Cortes

For a while now, RC has supported the idea of moving the oft-injured MacDougal, but we never imagined that he'd bring in this type of haul, particularly coming off an injury that cost him the first three months of the season. When healthy, MacDougal can be dominating with his upper-90s fastball and devastating slider, and he's certainly an asset in any bullpen. However, with relief pitching at a premium this year, the Royals were in a position to capitalize brilliantly, and Lumsden and Cortes are both the type of prospects who make it easy to say goodbye to "Mac the Ninth."

Lumsden is the jewel of this deal – a 6-4, 205 lbs. diamond. This season in Double-A Birmingham, the 23-year-old lefty – who was ranked by Baseball America this off-season as the White Sox 18th best prospect – posted a 9-4 record with a 2.69 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over 20 starts. In 123.2 IP, Lumsden allowed 114 hits, 40 walks, and nine homers while striking out 72. He's a ground ball pitcher (nearly a 2-to-1 GB:FB ratio), which helps compensate a bit for his less-than-stellar strike out numbers (5.33 K/9 IP), and he possesses a low 90s fastball with a power-curve.

Lumsden missed all of 2005 after having arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow, but he's shown no lasting effects this year. On the season, opposing batters are hitting just .249/.315/.347, and he's been equally effective vs. both right handed batters and lefties. Scouts are convinced that Lumsden is the "real deal," and he probably moves ahead of Billy Buckner as the Royals' top pitching prospect in the upper minors. He will report to Wichita, and Dayton Moore said he could compete for a spot in the starting rotation out of spring training next season.

Of course, Cortes is no slouch himself. At 6-5, 205 lbs., the 19-year-old righty possesses the type of projectable frame that scouts love, which he uses to run his fastball up to 94 mph. He also throws a solid curveball, and he's reportedly working on developing a quality change-up as well. This season for Kannapolis (low-A), Cortes was 3-9 with a 4.01 ERA in 107.2 IP. He made 19 starts, allowing 109 hits, 38 walks, and just six home runs while striking out 96.

He's been particularly good in his last eight starts, averaging six innings per outing while compiling an ERA of 2.61, lowering his season ERA over a full run in the process. In his last 48.1 IP, he's allowed 46 hits, 17 walks, and only one home run while striking out 42. It could be that it simply took him some time to adjust to the jump to full season ball (which is a big jump for a 19-year-old out of high school), but he's been Kannapolis's best starter for the past two months. He'll report to Burlington, and RC hopes to speak with him while we're in town the next two days.

Final analysis: This was an excellent trade for the Royals, and as much as we liked Allard Baird, this was the type of gutsy trade we wouldn't have expected him to make. It's certainly not without risk, as MacDougal could go on to become one of baseball's premier relievers, and both Lumsden and Cortes could conceivably flame out in the minors. However, the fact remains that Dayton Moore with this trade added two very solid and rising pitching prospects to the system while surrendering a popular but inconsistent 29-year-old closer. Even though MacDougal's still a couple of years away from becoming expensive, the market dictated that this was the perfect time to unload him, and we couldn't be any happier with the outcome.
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