Mets acquire Burgos from Royals
Righty Bannister is sent to Kansas City in one-for-one deal
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Mets and Royals were the first teams to step to the podium at this year's Winter Meetings, completing a swap on Wednesday that sent reliever Ambiorix Burgos to New York in exchange for starter Brian Bannister.
Burgos, a hard-throwing, 22-year-old, was 4-5 with a 5.52 ERA in 68 appearances for Kansas City in 2006. Burgos recorded 18 saves as the Royals' closer, but blew 12 opportunities. In 73 1/3 innings, Burgos allowed 83 hits and 29 runs -- 28 earned -- walking 37 and striking out 72.
Mets general manager Omar Minaya described Burgos as a power pitcher, one capable of reaching velocities higher than 100 mph at times.
Minaya said Burgos -- whose 137 strikeouts over the last two seasons were the most of any Royals reliever -- would give the team additional depth for manager Willie Randolph's middle-inning relief corps.
"I'm expecting him to come into camp and be one of the guys [that] Willie's going to have options to have," Minaya said. "He's a young kid and we see [an] upside."
Burgos had issues with consistency and command at times during the 2006 season, as evidenced by his 12 blown saves and 16 home runs allowed for Kansas City. Minaya said he believed those struggles were due to inexperience, pointing out that Burgos was just two years removed from pitching in Class A ball.
"[In Burgos], we feel we were able to get a young power arm into our 'pen that's still developing," Minaya said. "I think we feel we have numbers in pitching. It's a trade we were happy to do, and just continues to improve our bullpen."
The deal, Minaya said, helps lessen the impact of losing reliever Chad Bradford to the Baltimore Orioles. It would also not preclude the Mets from continuing to pursue free agent Guillermo Mota, who will be unable to pitch for the first 50 games of the regular season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
The transaction developed quickly between Minaya and Royals general manager Dayton Moore, progressing through business hours on Tuesday and reaching completion in concept by mid-afternoon.
"For me, this was a baseball trade," Minaya said.
The Mets parted with Bannister, who made the rotation out of Spring Training, but he lost much of his rookie campaign following a hamstring injury. The 25-year-old was 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA in eight games -- six starts -- for the Mets.
Moore said the Royals were impressed with Bannister's makeup and intelligence, and expected the right-hander to compete for a rotation spot with Kansas City. That bounty was enough for Moore to part with Burgos, whom he described as a "great guy with upside."
"Those guys are hard to find," Moore said. "You don't really develop them; you've got to sign them. He has the potential to be a closer someday."
Bryan Hoch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.