Assessing Potential Jays Trade Targets: KC 1B Kila Ka’aihue and Clint Robinson
By Mat Germain
Continuing through assessments of potential Jays Trade Targets brings us into Kansas City, a place where winning is so close that fans are closing their eyes and waiting for the long list of names likely to be called up in 2011. However, due to positional strengths, some of their best prospects may never get that chance in Kansas City. Two of these are players who the Jays could try to trade for in…
6’4″ 235 lbs / Bats Left, Throws Right / 26 years old
Drafted: in the 15th rd of the 2002 draft by the Royals
Minor League Stats:
A hulking 1B, Ka’aihue is ready for a full season of MLB time and could prove to be one of the better power hitters in the American League. Whether or not he can hit for average and get on base at similar rates as he did in the minors remain the only questions that need answering in his case.
6’4″ 225 lbs / Bats Left, Throws Left / 26 years old
Drafted: in the 25th rd of the 2007 draft by the Royals
Robinson had a breakout 2010 and tore up AA. He has put himself on the map in terms of a possible full-time MLB 1B on a squad, it just is unlikely to be with the Royals who already have 3 better options ahead of him.
To say that the Royals have a glut of extremely talented 1B in their system is a serious understatement. From Eric Hosmer to the 2 listed above, the Royals will soon have to make some tough decisions in terms of who plays where and who gets the most ABs. The one thing we know for certain at this point is that the Royals will not be able to fit these 3 and Billy Butler on their MLB roster at one time unless one accepts a bench role or shifts to another position. The Royals could really use all 4 of their bats in the lineup, but a trade seems more likely at this point, most likely to strengthen their rotation, pen, or more importantly when considering a trade with the Jays – the catcher position, possibly the biggest weakness of the Royals system at this point.
Ka’aihue and Robinson both represent power hitters who get on base at well above-average rates. Robinson won the Texas League triple crown in AA last season (had an impressive 71 extra base hits) and has been brought up patiently, 1 level at a time by the Royals. Either acquisition would be an upgrade over what the Jays have in their system at first base, and with the talent that the Jays have behind the plate, it’s foreseeable that a fairly straightforward deal could be completed.
The likeliest targets at this point by the Royals being pitching and/or A.J. Jimenez, Yan Gomes or Brian Jeroloman. The potential deal’s exact makeup would depend on which of these would be acquired, but it seems like both teams in this case would be dealing from positions of strength and resolving weaknesses.
It seems to me that either Robinson or Ka’aihue could step in at some point in 2011 and be impact power bats the Jays may need to be successful. Ka’aihue has only played 1B during his entire minors career, and Robinson only played 1 game in LF and made 1 error during that game, so the chances of either player making a move to the OF seems unlikely at this point.
I do understand the Jays are still looking at Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion as their 1B/DH combination, but either Robinson or Ka’aihue could get one year of AAA time and could make a move up in 2012. Robinson has been on a steady climb through the minors and has yet to face AAA pitching, so another year in the minors isn’t a terrible thing for the prospect. I would think that the Royals would consider A.J. Jimenez as part of a comparable return, leaving a future Travis d’Arnaud and J. P. Arencibia combination intact.
Just because I’ve assessed Yonder Alonso, Kila Ka’aihue and Clint Robinson as the first 3 potential Jays trade targets, it doesn’t indicate that I believe the Jays will only be chasing a 1B prospect or player. I just believe that the Jays will be looking to add depth to that position and that these 3 players may be more attainable than most as 1B prospects due to their team’s situation.
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