Kansas City Royals Rumors

Kansas City Royals trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Minor Moves: Joe Paterson, Dan Hennigan

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • The Royals have released left-hander Joe Paterson from his minor league contract, tweets Matt DeFranks of FOX Sports Kansas City. Paterson, who turned 29 two days ago, was a non-roster invitee and had a solid Spring Training that put him in consideration for a roster spot. However, he’s struggled at Triple-A this season, yielding eight runs on 14 hits and five unintentional walks with 12 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings. Paterson has yet to replicate the strong numbers he put up in his 2011 rookie season with the D-Backs.
  • The Dodgers announced that they’ve signed infielder Dan Hennigan to a minor league contract and assigned him to Class-A Great Lakes, the team announced (on Twitter). The 25-year-old was a non-drafted free agent and had been playing with the independent Camden RiverSharks of the Atlantic League.

Podcast: Bruce Chen Talks Retirement; Patrick Mooney On Cubs

Longtime MLB veteran Bruce Chen joins the show to talk about his decision to bring an end to a distinguished career after throwing more than 1,500 big league innings over 17 seasons. Though he ended his career with the Indians, Chen saw action with eleven big league teams — most prominently, the RoyalsOrioles, and Braves. The consummate crafty lefty, Chen has a fascinating story both personally and as a ballplayer.

Jul 22, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Bruce  Chen (52) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY SportsAlso hopping on with MLBTR is Cubs beat writer Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago, who stops by to discuss the team’s most recent moves and to break down how things are shaping up for the trade deadline.

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The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursdays.


Rafael Furcal To Retire

Royals infielder Rafael Furcal has decided to retire, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports on Twitter. The 37-year-old had been attempting a comeback bid in the Kansas City organization.

Furcal, who hails from the Dominican Republic, signed with the Braves as an amateur free agent in 1996. He hit the big leagues with Atlanta at age 22, won the Rookie of the Year Award, and ultimately spent six years there and another half dozen with the Dodgers during his prime.

Furcal posted nearly-identical batting lines over each of those stints — .283/.351/.406 in Atlanta, .284/.348/.409 in Los Angeles — though he obviously had some ups and downs over his first twelve years. Possessing surprising pop for his size, Furcal hit over 100 big league long balls and put up four-straight double digit campaigns.

One thing that never seemed to waver much was Furcal’s value on the bases and in the field. Both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference credit him with better than thirty career wins above replacement, in spite of an approximately league-average bat, based upon those contributions. Furcal ultimately topped three hundred career steals.

Furcal’s later career was marred by injury. After joining the Cardinals in the middle of the 2011 campaign, he put up a solid .262/.323/.367 batting line in 748 plate appearances for St. Louis. But he was forced out of action late in the tam’s 2012 World Series run with a UCL sprain, and ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss all of the following year.

Though the elbow injury did not prevent Furcal from making a run at a return, he made just 37 trips to the plate with the Marlins last year before hamstring issues ended his season. That leg muscle apparently let him down again in his more recent bid with the Royals, as Flanagan tweets that Furcal decided to call it quits after another hamstring problem arose.

All said, the somewhat disappointing end to his career does not mar its excellence. At his best, Furcal was among the most productive players in the league, and he was at least an above-average regular for much of his career. MLBTR extends its best wishes as he turns the page.



Cafardo On Phillies, Lohse, Royals, Leake, Haren

Here are a few highlights from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe’s latest rumors roundup:

  • The Phillies have scouted the Red Sox‘ Double-A Portland team the past six days, Cafardo writes. The Red Sox have, of course, repeatedly been connected to Cole Hamels, although the Phillies have several other veterans who could also be trade candidates. Portland isn’t a particularly prospect-rich team right now, with many of the Red Sox’ best minor-leaguers at Triple-A Pawtucket or Class A Greenville. So it’s hard to say who the Phillies might be scouting, and it’s likely they aren’t scouting a potential centerpiece for a Hamels deal.
  • The Brewers are already prepared to trade starters Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse. At least one scout tells Cafardo that Lohse (who has allowed ten homers in his first 47 2/3 innings this season, although his strikeout and walk numbers have been fine) is in need of a “change of scenery.”
  • The Royals‘ bullpen this year has been terrific, but their rotation hasn’t. The Royals are looking for cheap starting pitching to help ease the burden on their bullpen caused by short outings from their starters (although any acquisition they might make right now would likely be minor, since they aren’t yet willing to trade for a starter).
  • Teams could see Reds starter Mike Leake as a very viable trade candidate. Leake is having a strong season so far, and it would likely be easier to sign him long-term than to sign his rotation-mate Johnny Cueto, so Leake could attract plenty of interest. Like Cueto, he’s eligible for free agency after the season.
  • If the Marlins‘ season doesn’t improve, they could easily trade Dan Haren to a team on his preferred coast, Cafardo writes. Haren’s desire to play in California is well known. He’s in the midst of a good season (3.70 ERA, 6.1 K/9, 1.7 BB/9), and any number of teams out west could have interest.

Minor Moves: Burton, Blanton, Boscan, Mitchell

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league, with the most recent at the top.

  • the Yankees have released righty Jared Burton, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweets. Burton, formerly a regular in the Reds and Twins bullpens, has made a handful of appearances for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season. The Yankees originally signed Burton to a minor-league deal with a series of opt-out dates, and they already released and re-signed him in March, so perhaps it’s not out of the question that they could re-sign him yet again.
  • The Royals have announced that they’ve selected the contract of veteran righty Joe Blanton. Blanton had an opt-out opportunity yesterday on his minor-league deal. He had been pitching for Triple-A Omaha, where he posted a 3.89 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 39 1/3 innings. The longtime Athletics and Phillies starter last appeared in the big leagues in 2013, when he posted a 6.04 ERA in 132 2/3 innings with the Angels. Blanton will work in long relief, as MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets. The Royals also announced that they optioned righty Aaron Brooks to Omaha and placed lefty Brian Flynn on the 60-day disabled list.
  • The Pirates have selected the contract of righty Wilfredo Boscan, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. They also optioned utilityman Steve Lombardozzi to Triple-A Indianapolis and moved righty Brandon Cumpton to the 60-day disabled list. Boscan will, presumably, help the Pirates’ bullpen after yesterday’s 11-10 extra-inning loss, which required the Bucs to throw 261 pitches. The 25-year-old Boscan has a 2.87 ERA, 5.7 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 31 1/3 innings at Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He has never pitched in the Majors.
  • The Angels have signed outfield Jared Mitchell and assigned him to the Double-A Arkansas Travelers, the Travelers have announced. The White Sox released Mitchell, a 2009 first-round pick, earlier this month. The 26-year-old has hit .226/.334/.381 in parts of six seasons in the minor leagues.
  • The Phillies have acquired infielder Jayson Nix from the Orioles for cash considerations, the teams have announced. Nix will head to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 32-year-old was hitting .167/.190/.198 in 100 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk, and he struggled in brief stints in the big leagues last year with the Phillies, Pirates and Royals. In parts of seven seasons in the Majors, he’s hit .212/.282/.345. The move gives the Phillies infield depth after the recent promotion of Maikel Franco and their decision to have Cody Asche transition to playing outfield.
  • The Rays have signed former Pirates pitching prospect Kyle McPherson, Steve Kinsella of DRaysBay tweets. McPherson pitched 26 1/3 strong innings with the Bucs in 2012 after posting a 3.22 ERA, 8.5 K/9 and an extremely stingy 1.2 BB/9 in 67 innings in the high minors that year, but he had Tommy John surgery in 2013 and another elbow injury last season. He became a minor-league free agent last fall.

MLBTR Podcast: The Unpredictable AL Central

Jeff and MLBTR colleague Steve Adams look at every team in the AL Central, running down how their respective starts to the season — good and bad — could shape their activity over the summer.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! The podcast is also available via Stitcher at this link.

The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.


AL Notes: Cherington, Blanton, Lindor, Street

Explaining his presence in Oakland during a tough stretch for his club, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington offered some words of general wisdom for the sometimes overly-eager interpretation of his movement outside of Boston. As Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports, Cherington says that he flew out to join the team as part of a previously-planned, monthly effort. “If something is going I need to be there for I’€™ll go,” said Cherington, “but 99 percent of the time it’€™s just what is scheduled. As GM, I don’€™t remember ever being with the team on the road where it just hasn’€™t been part of the schedule.” The same, often, holds true of top execs being present to see amateur talent. “Somebody will make a deal of me being somewhere to see an amateur player. It’€™s almost never about seeing that player, but rather that’€™s the opportunity to go spend some time with your scouts and connect with them,” Cherington explaned. “I’€™m not sitting in the draft room and saying, ‘€˜I saw this guy on May 13 and this is what he did.’€™ I’€™m just not doing that.” Of course, the Kremlinologists among us will note that Cherington’s words provide perfect cover for more surreptitious missions.

  • Royals righty Joe Blanton has an opt-out opportunity tomorrow, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com tweets. Kansas City hopes to keep Blanton, with Flanagan writing that the expectation is the veteran will be “patient” in assessing his options. Certainly, given the state of the K.C. rotation, Blanton can reasonably expect to earn a shot at some big league innings at some point this year. The Royals staff is just one of many subjects touched upon by Steve Adams and myself in today’s AL Central-centric podcast (check back at about noon central for that).
  • The “timing isn’t now” for Francisco Lindor to reach the Indians roster, GM Chris Antonetti told reporters including MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter links). That assessment is “not at all” due to an effort to avoid Super Two status, says Antonetti. Instead, the club believes that Lindor — who has not forced his way up with his play at Triple-A — simply needs more time. Cleveland is hurting for production at shortstop at present, though it is not clear that Lindor would be an immediate upgrade over the scuffling Jose Ramirez.
  • Last night, Huston Street inked a two-year, $18MM extension with the Angels. As MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports on Twitter, Street was motivated in part by a desire to play for a competitor. “It’s multiple years where I have a chance to really matter,” he explained. On the financial side of the ledger, my own opinion is that Street could and would have earned more on the open market — which is generally the case, of course, but is especially true given the somewhat less top-loaded relief market expected next winter. Then again, the decision to pass on some future earning opportunity to lock down a guarantee in a situation he favors is eminently understandable; such is the tradeoff that must be made to avoid the risk of a full season’s workload, especially for a low-velocity reliever.

AL Notes: Chris Young, Price, Rodon, Red Sox

Chris Young‘s career turned on a 1,168-word email the Royals right-hander wrote to a St. Louis surgeon in 2013 where he diagnosed himself as suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome, writes Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star. Dr. Robert Thompson, director of the Washington University Center for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome concurred, and performed a decompression procedure to free the nerves in Young’s shoulder. “I feel better now at 35 than I did when I was in my late 20s, early 30s, because I was dealing with so much pain,” Young said. “I forgot what it was like to be healthy. Now I try to make up for lost time.” And that he has. Nearly two years after undergoing the career-saving operation, Young, the reigning AL Comeback Player of the Year, has been a relevation for the Royals pitching to a 1.06 ERA in seven games (including one start) with a 8.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 over 17 innings of work.

Elsewhere in the American League:

  • The next start for Tigers ace David Price will be pushed back from Thursday to Saturday to give his mild hamstring strain extra time to heal, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). Price says he could have pitched on normal rest, so the move is simply precautionary.
  • The Tigers have a need for a left-handed power bat off the bench, but risk losing out-of-options infielder Hernan Perez to waivers if they attempt such an move, according to MLive.com’s Chris Iott.
  • After throwing 108 pitches in winning his MLB debut as a starter, the White Sox remain coy on whether Carlos Rodon will remain in the rotation or return to the bullpen, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. “You’re also somewhat protecting the amount of usage you’re going to get out of him over the course of the year, so there’s some factors that go into it for him and his learning curve and things like that,” said manager Robin Ventura. “There’s more to it than he’s just ready to go.” If Rodon remains in the rotation for the rest of the season, Merkin calculates the left-hander will approach the team’s unofficial innings limit of 160.
  • The Red Sox‘s July 2014 trade of John Lackey for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly is looking worse and worse, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines. Craig performed poorly down the stretch in 2014 for the Red Sox and has been just as bad this year, and while Kelly’s radar gun readings have been impressive, his performance hasn’t (although his peripherals this season have been much better than his 5.72 ERA). Meanwhile, Lackey has pitched well for the Cardinals while making the league minimum salary.

Jason Vargas On DL With Flexor Strain; No Damage To UCL

2:50pm: Vargas tells reporters that further tests revealed that there’s no damage to his UCL (Twitter link via McCullough). He’s hopeful that he can begin to play catch next week and only miss “a few” starts, though the team has yet to announce any form of timetable.

2:32pm: The Royals will place left-hander Jason Vargas on the disabled list with a strained flexor muscle in his left elbow, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. While there’s no further news on Vargas’ condition yet, McCullough notes that Vargas could be out for months. The team also must be concerned with the possibility of Tommy John surgery, as flexor injuries can often be a precursor to the operation. Vargas’ roster spot will be filled by Yohan Pino for the time being.

Vargas, 32, is in the second season of a four-year, $32MM pact with Kansas City signed in the 2013-14 offseason. While some questioned the deal at the time it was signed, Vargas made good on the first year of the contract, firing 187 innings of 3.71 ERA ball with 6.2 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 38.3 percent ground-ball rate. Fangraphs valued his contributions at 2.2 wins above replacement, while Baseball-Reference pegged him at 2.4. Vargas also pitched well in the postseason, winning a pair of games in the ALDS and ALCS by allowing three total runs in a combined 11 1/3 innings. He scuffled a bit in the World Series, yielding three runs in a short, four-inning outing that resulted in a loss.

The Royals have some rotation depth in the event of such an injury, as Pino and Chris Young were both signed to small Major League deals this offseason. Top prospect Brandon Finnegan looms as an option in the Minors as well. Young is expected to step into Vargas’ rotation slot for now, according to McCullough.

Losing Vargas for a significant amount of time would increase the need for strong performances from Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy and Edinson Volquez atop the rotation, however, as right-hander Jeremy Guthrie has struggled badly in the final guaranteed year of his contract. Vargas, too, has struggled in 2015, although this news may shed some light on the reason for his difficulties. Through 25 2/3 innings this year, he’s worked to a 5.26 ERA with a 14-to-10 K/BB ratio.


Quick Hits: A-Rod, Gutierrez, Butera, Manfred

With a solo shot off of Chris Tillman during tonight’s 4-3 Yankees win over the Orioles, Alex Rodriguez officially passed Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list.  Rodriguez’s 661 career homers put him behind only Babe Ruth (714), Henry Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) in the record books.  While A-Rod’s feat is certainly noteworthy in its own right, his homers have drawn even more attention due to the controversy around the so-called “milestone” bonuses in his contract that the Yankees are refusing to pay.  Here’s some more news from around the league…

  • Cuban right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez is now eligible to sign with teams during the 2015-16 international signing period, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports.  Gutierrez has received residency in Mexico and registered with MLB, though since he still needs to be officially declared a free agent by the league, he may not be able to sign immediately when the signing period opens on July 2.  Gutierrez will be subject to the international bonus pool limits, so teams that are facing $300K signing caps in the upcoming signing period (the Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees) won’t be able to afford the promising youngster.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was hoping to keep Drew Butera after the catcher was designated for assignment, but as Dipoto told reporters (including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez), “it became fairly clear that he was going to get claimed on waivers, so putting together a trade made the most sense.”  Butera was dealt to the Royals for infielder Ryan Jackson earlier today.
  • On the Royals side of that trade, GM Dayton Moore told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan) that Butera won’t supplant Erik Kratz as the primary backup catcher.  “We’re just trying to get through this period of time,” Moore said, in reference to Kratz’s stint on the DL with an injured foot.  Since Butera is out of options, I’d guess he could be on the move again once Kratz is healthy.
  • Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to reporters before a recent Rangers/Astros game about a number of baseball topics, including the possibility of a shorter schedule.  The Associated Press has a partial recap of Manfred’s comments.
  • One topic that isn’t a major priority for the league office is adjusting the designated-for-assignment period.  As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets, Manfred said “that rule actually has functioned fairly effectively over a period of time.”  Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal and MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth both recently explored how some players, like Alex Hassan, can have their careers essentially put on hold due to constantly being in “DFA limbo.”
  • In his latest Insider-only post, ESPN’s Buster Olney cites the AthleticsScott Kazmir and the RedsMike Leake as potential trade candidates if their teams continue to struggle.  Both hurlers are scheduled for free agency this winter.  Olney speculates that the Dodgers could be interested in either pitcher to bolster their rotation, while Kazmir could also be a fit with the Red Sox or Astros.
  • While the Marlins bullpen hasn’t pitched very well this year, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro doesn’t think the club needs to turn to Edward Mujica, who was designated for assignment by the Red Sox earlier today.  Mujica pitched well for the Marlins in 2011-12 but as Frisaro notes, he’s struggled this year and Miami doesn’t really have any roster space for him.