To the chagrin of many fans, Getz will be back with the Royals in 2013. (Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE)

Staying Together: Royals and Chris Getz Agree to Contract

Yesterday it was Felipe Paulino’s turn. Today it was Chris Getz who agreed to a one year, $1.05 million deal with the team. On top of his base salary, Getz can earn an extra $150,000 in performance bonuses.

While it’s not a significant amount of money, the burning question in my mind is why?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to bash Chris Getz. He seems like a quality individual on and off the field. Further, I have no doubt he works to squeeze as much production out of his god given talent that he can. I’m also not here to claim that $1.05 million is an outlandish amount of money. He should be on the back of a major league roster somewhere in major leagues to be sure, but said roster should not be that of the Kansas City Royals.

Still what about Getz keeps Dayton Moore and the rest of the front office so enamored? Why do they think he is so much more valuable to other options also under team control within the organization? Options that happen to be younger, cheaper and more versatile. It’s a question I can’t answer, but lets dig into the Getz-dilemma and see where we wind up.

Despite the fact that he was limited to 64 games and 210 plate appearances, Getz is coming off a career year. He hit 0.275/.312/.360 and was successful on nine of twelve stolen base attempts. His offensive production netted him an OPS+ of 85  which easily surpassed his previous career best season in 2009. That year his OPS+ wound up at 73 but even with 2012 included his career OPS+ is still just 71.

On defense he was ever so slightly below average with a -0.4 UZR/150 at second base but still owns a slightly above average 2.5 UZR/150 over the course of 2,832 innings at the position. This is one area that is viewed as a positive when talking about Chris Getz, and I’ll grant that he’s not detrimental in the field, but otherwise his far reputation exceeds his actual ability with he glove.

If you put his offensive and defensive production together you get a season worth 0.5 wins above replacement according to FanGraphs and 0.4 WAR according to Baseball Reference. Assuming he had played a full season and maintained his production you wind up with a WAR of around 1.0 which is better than nothing but it hardly is a statement that he is better than other options that the team has. Remember that WAR is not scaled in such a way that 0.0 is equivalent to major league average. Instead a player that performs at a level of zero wins above replacement is exactly replacement level. That is, he is on par with the type of player you will find at the Triple-A level or sitting at the end of the bench on most team’s 25-man rosters.

The Royals used three others at 2B that I regard as better options going into the 2013 season.

Tony Abreu (28) is slightly younger, is better defensively and is capable of playing SS and 3B in a time of need. While his plate discipline doesn’t measure up to Getz, his bat does provide more pop. Abreu has had very limited major league experience that, when coupled with his minor league resume (0.312/.349/.456 slash line in 9 seasons), suggests that he is capable of more than the 75 OPS+ season he provided the Royals in 2012.

Irving Falu (29) is the same age as Getz, but like Abreu brings added versatility to the table as he can play SS and 3B in addition to 2B. Falu made his major league debut in 2012 so we have a very limited sample size, but based on what he did in 24 games with the Royals they almost owe it to him (and the fans) to give him an extended look. All he did was hit 0.341/.371/.435 in 91 plate appearances. He showed a solid approach and hit the ball with authority on many occasions winding up with an OPS+ of 121. Falu is not flashy in the field but he was solid based on my observations and not far behind Getz in that regard.

Finally we come to Johnny Giavotella who at 25 is the youngest of the group. Like Getz he is limited to 2B and of the four players had the worst season with a 58 OPS+ and 0.238/.270/.304 line in 53 games. However, he has by far the most upside of the four. He has a knack for hitting and good pop to go with above average plate discipline and pitch recognition skills. These skills have not materialized at the major league level yet but I remained firm in my belief that if given an extended look these traits will manifest themselves in his performance. If the Royals truly are building for the future they need to give Johnny-G a legitimate audition of several months.

To be fair, you can certainly argue that Getz is the best option of this lot as much of it depends on your perspective. The point is that it’s debatable. Given where the Royals are in their pursuit of becoming a winning team, is it wise to spend $1.05 million on Chris Getz when you have three others that could do the job for half the cost and could possibly provide a greater contribution beyond 2013?

For me at least, the Royals should have moved on from Getz.

Tags: Chris Getz Kansas City Royals

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