1:32pm: A source strongly contested the report that Ventura had been shopped, telling MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that it was “complete and utter nonsense.” GM Dayton Moore declined to address the matter, saying that “it’s highly inappropriate and reckless to discuss any specific trade talks about players with the media.”
Passan, meanwhile, stands by his report, which he says has since been corroborated by additional sources (Twitter link).
8:25am: Last night’s plunking of Manny Machado was the latest in a line of questionable actions from Royals righty Yordano Ventura, and Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes that his attitude is wearing thin on the Kansas City organization. Indeed, per the report, executives from at least two other teams say that the Royals have offered to deal Ventura away within the last month.
Expectations had been that the now-25-year-old with the high-octane fastball would be entrenched in the K.C. staff for years to come. After all, the club inked him to a five-year, $23MM extension before the start of the 2015 season. That deal also includes two option years valued at $12MM apiece.
There always seemed to be a bit of injury risk, but otherwise the pact seemed a nice bargain for a quality young arm. While he’s been healthy and still delivers mid-90s heat, however, Ventura has arguably been more provocative than productive on the mound over the last two years.
Ventura took a step back last year in the earned run department, seeing a year-over-year ERA shift from 3.20 to 4.08. But his peripherals all seemed in line with his prior work. It’s been different thus far in 2016, as Ventura has retired just six batters per nine innings via strikeout while issuing free passes at a rate of 4.8 BB/9. He’s allowing less groundballs to go with more contact and home runs. After last night’s outing, Ventura owns a 5.32 ERA in 66 innings over a dozen starts this year.
The extension once seemed an asset, but now may no longer have surplus value. Though we’re now one and a half years into the contract, the vast majority of the guarantee remains to be paid. Ventura has received just over $1MM of what he’s owed so far, with an escalating structure that mimics the arbitration process still to come. And there’s no doubt that other organizations will have concerns about Ventura’s questionable reputation and on-field antics.
It’s not exactly clear what Kansas City would be looking to accomplish via trade. Contenders would certainly hesitate to add Ventura to a rotation, and it’s a big commitment even if a club hoped to utilize his live arm in the pen. A swap that would allow the Royals to fill a need at the major league level without adding payroll could make some sense, though that’s just generalized speculation on my part.