One of Dayton Moore's very first moves as general manager of the Royals was to swap hard-throwing but enigmatic reliever Ambiorix Burgos to the Mets for then 25-year-old righthander Brian Bannister. Bannister had just 38 big league innings to his credit at the time (4.26 ERA) but he was consistently excellent in minors (3.31 career minor league ERA at the time of the trade) and considered ready to step into a big league rotation. After a brief tune-up in Triple-A to start the 2007 season, the now 29-year-old Bannister joined Kansas City's starting staff and has remained there ever since.
Nearly four full years after the fact, it's easy to declare Moore the winner of the trade. Not only has Bannister out-WAR'ed Burgos 7.1 to 0.0 since the deal, but the latter hasn't even pitched since 2008 due to a litany of legal issues. Perhaps best known for his love of advanced statistics, Bannister has given the Royals 629.1 innings across 108 starts (and one relief appearance) in his four seasons with the team, posting 5.13 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. Shoulder tendinitis this August prevented him from eclipsing the 150 inning mark for a fourth straight season.
After making $2.3MM in 2010, Bannister will go through the arbitration process one final time this winter before becoming a free agent after next season. He posted an ugly 6.34 ERA in 127.2 innings this year, and the .302/.365/.503 line opponents managed against him approximates Ryan Braun's 2010 production (.304/.365/.501). Never a big stuff guy, Bannister's fastball actually crept up in the last few seasons and now sits right around 90 mph.
Bannister was a fine piece when he was making six figures, but now that he's entered into multi-million dollar territory, Moore will assuredly think twice before tendering the righty a contract this offseason. In fact, Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star recently predicted that the team will shop Bannister around this offseason and could non-tender him if they don't find a taker. Bannister's name has been featured at each of the last two trade deadlines, but obviously no deal was made and now the team is facing the possibility of losing him for nothing.
If you haven't seen it already, or if you just want to read it again, make sure you check out the Q&A Tim conducted with Bannister back in 2008 (parts one, two, and three). Once you're done with that, click here to vote about what you think the Royals will do with Bannister after he season, and here to see the results.