The Royals headed to the Winter Meetings needing to fill a number of holes in their rotation coupled with their frustration with righthander Ambiorix Burgos, Kansas City shipped the reliever to the Mets in exchange for Mets for righthander Brian Bannister.
Signed as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2000, Burgos has dazzled the organization with a fastball that sniffs triple digits, though he never dominated at any level because of his erratic command. His inability to repeat his delivery has prevented him from mastering a slider or changeup.
The Royals aggressively promoted him to the big leagues in 2005 with middling results. Though he has struck out more then a batter per inning over the last two seasons with the Royals, he also has 68 walks in 138 innings in the majors and had a 5.52 ERA this year. The Mets lost two relievers to free agency last week in Chad Bradford and Roberto Hernandez, and Burgos will give the Mets a hard-thrower to help set up Billy Wagner.
This move probably benefits Bannister the most as he will go from fighting for a job at the back of the rotation with the Mets to being written into the Royals rotation. The son of former big leaguer Floyd Bannister, Brian was drafted in the seventh round of the 2003 draft by the Mets out of Southern California.
Bannister broke into the big league rotation out of spring training this year only to injure his hamstring while running the bases in late April. The injury turned out to be worse then originally diagnosed and he never got back into the big league rotation after missing two months. It was an unfortunate blow for Bannister who was 2-0, 2.89 at the time though he had a 17-14 strikeout-walk ratio in 28 innings, a number that does not bode well for a supposed command pitcher.
He does not have exceptional velocity like Burgos, but succeeds with an advanced feel for pitching and excellent command of an 88-91 mph fastball. His career began to take off in 2005 with the addition of a cutter that is his best pitch. He also features a vicious curveball that is a swing-and-miss pitch, though he has trouble throwing it for strikes and a changeup that he has spent a lot of time working on during his rehab from the hamstring injury.
Though not the kind of guy who will dominate, Bannister should slide right into the Royals rotation and be a solid No. 4 or No. 5 starter.