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Trade Deadline Recap: Royals Acquire Navarro for Aviles

August 3, 2011

In one of the more peculiar deals prior to the trade deadline, the Boston Red Sox acquired 30-year-old Mike Aviles from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for a pair of 23-year-olds in Yamaico Navarro and Kendal Volz. The team seemingly felt it was in need of infield depth (and insurance) as they’ve battled to overcome injuries to key players Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie. But, the price to acquire Aviles is what makes this deal seem a little unusual to me.

Aviles finished in the running for the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2008 after a fine rookie season with the Royals. However, since that time he’s developed more into a utility role – spending more of his time at second or third base rather than at shortstop where his career began. This season has been especially trying as he was demoted to Triple-A for five weeks mid season. Overall he batted .222/.261/.395 with 5 HR and 31 RBI in 185 MLB at bats on the season – numbers well below his career averages. He’s a strong contact hitter – striking out fewer than 13% of his at bats – with limited power.

Volz has spent the season in the bullpen for Boston’s High-A affiliate. In 51.1 innings he’s 2-3 with a 3.33 ERA. Lacking a true secondary pitch and a dominating fastball he’s struggled with his command for much of his minor league career.

Navarro has long been groomed as a utility infielder by Boston – spending significant time at shortstop but also seeing the field in the outfield and at second and third base. Offensively he’s struggled since being called up by the Red Sox – batting just .258/.362/.469 in 128 at bats while showing good plate discipline and bat speed. Defensively he’s got a strong arm and he should get a chance to play in Kansas City.

The part of this deal which puzzles me is exactly why the Red Sox felt the move was necessary. Sure, they team may need a utility infielder type considering the injuries and uncertainty they have had to endure in the infield this season. However, Aviles and Navarro are remarkably similar players. The difference lies in the fact that Navarro is seven years younger, cheaper, and has much more upside at this point in his career. Aviles may help more now but Navarro certainly brings more to the table from a long term perspective.

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