The Royals wasted no time Thursday in pulling the trigger on their first major off-season move by acquiring slugging first baseman Mike Jacobs from the Florida Marlins for reliever Leo Nuñez.
The deal comes one day after the conclusion to the World Series, when Major League Baseball generally imposes an embargo prohibiting clubs from making any significant announcements.
The Royals and Marlins have been in talks regarding a deal for several days.
Jacobs is a left-handed hitter who provides the Royals with some much-needed punch for their lineup. He hit a career-high 32 homers this season in 141 games, although he batted just .247 with a .299 on-base percentage.
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“We’re delighted to acquire a productive hitter to impact the middle of our lineup,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “Mike’s a winner and has a very aggressive approach to baseball, and we look forward to his presence on our club.”
The Royals haven’t had a player hit 32 homers since Jermaine Dye had 33 in 2000. José Guillen led the club this season with 20.
The trade comes on Jacobs’ 28th birthday.
Jacobs, 6 feet 3 and 215 pounds, has a .262 average with 80 homers and 247 RBIs in 421 career games over four seasons. He was ninth-round pick by the New York Mets in 1999 and went to Florida as part of the November 2005 deal for veteran first baseman Carlos Delgado.
Florida made Jacobs available because he is poised for a major salary jump as he enters his first off-season of arbitration eligibility. He made $395,000 last season but could jump to $2 million or more in 2009.
Nuñez, 25, was 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA last season in 45 games. He fits better into Florida’s salary structure because he is not yet eligible for arbitration, which positions him for only a modest raise from $405,000.
The trade raises several issues within the Royals’ existing roster. It suggests the club is not convinced either Ryan Shealy or Kila Ka'aihue are ready for regular duty and appears to recognize veteran Ross Gload was overexposed.
It also suggests the Royals might be ready to adopt a harder line in assessing Billy Butler’s development.