According to Baseball Digest Daily’s newsletter (not yet online), Jason LaRue (and, I would guess, some portion of his $5.2 million salary for 2007) are headed to Kansas City for a minor leaguer to be named. The Royals had been in the market for a catcher, and this means they won’t have to sign Gregg Zaun to the three-year deal he’s after.
LaRue had a disastrous off-year in 2006, hitting below .200 in limited duty. (Hit below .200 with a couple of good catchers on the roster, and you will always find yourself in limited duty! Unless you’re Brad Ausmus.) However, he’s only one year removed from a 4.7 win season–if the Royals can get anything close to that out of him, he’s worth the full five million bucks. However, he’s a catcher going into his age-33 season; ZiPS projects him to "bounce back" to .234/.331/.411. That wouldn’t earn him a fan club in KC, but it would be good enough, especially if he continued to be above average on defense, which he has been over his career..
Looks like this could be a great trade for both sides: the Reds save some cash on a player they don’t need, and the Royals get a catcher with some upside without tying themselves into a long-term contract.
UPDATE: Here’s a link for now.
By Jeff Sackmann