Kansas City Royals Rumors

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

Royals Designate Jason Frasor For Assignment

The Royals announced today that they have designated right-hander Jason Frasor for assignment in order to clear space on the roster for outfielder Paulo Orlando.

The move will likely come as a surprise to many Royals fans — and fans in general — as the veteran setup man has worked to a stellar 1.54 ERA in 23 1/3 innings this season. However, Frasor’s also battled his control all season long, posting an 18-to-15 K/BB ratio in that time. That sub-par accuracy has led secondary stats like FIP (4.03), xFIP (4.60) and SIERA (4.71) to take a significantly more pessimistic stance on Frasor’s work to this point. Of course, it should also be noted that a pair of the walks yielded by Frasor in 2015 have been of the intentional variety.

The Royals acquired Frasor last summer in exchange for minor league right-hander Spencer Patton, and Frasor rewarded the team with a 1.53 ERA and a 16-to-1 K/BB ratio in 17 2/3 innings down the stretch in their push to the postseason. Frasor allowed just one run in 5 1/3 playoff innings and was re-signed by the Royals on a one-year, $1.8MM contract that includes a $1.25MM salary and a $550K buyout of a $2MM mutual option for the 2016 season.

Frasor chose the Royals over a few other interested clubs, with the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Mike Berardino reporting back in December that the Twins were one team to make an offer. Agent Dave Meier told Berardino that the Twins were one of the final teams under consideration by Frasor. Given Minnesota’s own bullpen struggles and Frasor’s modest salary — he’s owed about $621K plus the $550K buyout — it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Twins among the teams to show interest. Kansas City will have 10 days to trade, release or attempt to outright Frasor, although even if he’s outrighted, he can refuse the minor league assignment in favor of free agency and retain his salary.


Central Notes: Richard, Tigers, Verlander, Royals, Cueto

The Pirates‘ trade of minor league starter Clayton Richard to the Cubs might not seem like huge news on the surface, but the move could prove to be significant if the Bucs have injuries in the rotation, Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. With Richard out of the picture and the team’s rash of injuries, the Pirates’ organizational starting depth has been compromised.  Manager Clint Hurdle is not yet terribly concerned about it, saying “I still think we are in a place where we are coveredIf something were to happen here and we lost two starters, that might change. We have lost our surplus. We had great depth at one point, now our depth isn’t as deep.”  Richard, 31, was a productive starter for the Padres before shoulder issues derailed his career. In both 2010 and 2012, he put up 200+ innings with a sub-4.00 ERA. He last appeared in the big leagues in 2013, struggling badly before ultimately going under the knife.

A few more notes from the game’s Central divisions…

  • Just one week ago, the Tigers were locks to be buyers at this year’s trade deadline, but James Schmehl of MLive.com examines the possibility that they could become sellers in the wake of Miguel Cabrera‘s injury. As Schemehl notes, the Tigers have a number of appealing trade chips in David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Rajai Davis — each of whom is set to hit free agency at season’s end. However, Schmehl also notes that the team has made a significant investment in winning this season and may be more likely to add a pair of relievers with an eye on the postseason. Asked about the possibility of becoming a deadline seller, manager Brad Ausmus replied, “That’s not really my call, but I’d be surprised.” Given the Tigers’ win-at-all-costs approach over the past few seasons, it would be a surprise to me as well to see them as deadline sellers, though perhaps they’ll take a similar route to 2014 and deal from their big league roster as a means of strengthening the current on-field product.
  • The New York Post’s Joel Sherman makes a bleak comparison for Tigers fans, writing that Justin Verlander has become Detroit’s version of CC Sabathia. Verlander is in the first year of a five-year, $140MM extension and has struggled to deliver any form of positive results over the past two seasons while dealing with injuries. He notes that GM Dave Dombrowski even talks about Verlander in the same manner that his Yankees counterpart, Brian Cashman, discusses Sabathia. Sherman quotes Dombrowski: “We don’t think you will see MVP-season Justin, but he can still be a very good pitcher and that would be really big for us. … He has just been a little inconsistent. We just need him to get more comfortable.” Verlander’s not showing quite the depleted velocity that Sabathia has, however, so perhaps there’s hope for him yet.
  • The Royals should make an aggressive play to acquire the RedsJohnny Cueto prior to the deadline, opines ESPN’s Christina Kahrl. She feels that the Royals are already strong favorites to win the AL Central, but adding Cueto gives them the rotation depth necessary to be a force in shorter playoff series. With Cueto and perhaps a returning Kris Medlen in the fold, Kahrl notes, the Royals can be shielded from the need to start Jeremy Guthrie in a pivotal postseason contest.

Cafardo’s Latest: Revere, Kennedy, Hamels, Jays

The Angels were first linked to Ben Revere in trade rumors in May but the rumors almost became a reality.  Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies and Angels came close a few weeks ago on a trade that would’ve sent Revere to Anaheim for right-hander Trevor Gott.  The Phils thought the deal was done but the Halos “pulled out of the deal at the last minute and tried to redirect the Phillies toward a starting pitching prospect.”  Talks fell through after that.  Here’s some more from Cafardo’s weekly notes column, with a particular focus on news from Toronto…

  • Ian Kennedy has a 2.31 ERA over his last six starts and the Padres right-hander has begun to generate some trade interest in his services.  Kennedy had an ugly 7.15 ERA over his first eight starts and owns a 4.86 ERA for the season, though his peripherals (8.51 K/9, 3.04 K/BB rate, 3.74 xFIP, 3.70 SIERA) are are pretty solid, aside from a 22.1% homer rate that more than double his career average.  Kennedy is a free agent this winter and would be a natural trade chip for San Diego if the Friars decided to sell.
  • Cole Hamels has publicly said he’s willing to consider deals to any team but is reportedly unlikely to waive his no-trade clause if he’s dealt to the Astros or Blue Jays.  Cafardo wonders if Hamels would remain adamant against a move to Houston or Toronto, however, if those were the only deals on the table and his only avenues away from the rebuilding Phillies.
  • Attracting free agents north of the border has long been an issue for the Blue Jays, as Cafardo cites higher taxes, customs delays and the Rogers Centre’s artificial surface as factors that can sometimes make Toronto a tough sell.  (Josh Donaldson and Jose Reyes both praised their city, though Reyes admitted he isn’t a fan of the turf.)  The bigger problem for the Jays, however, is that they have barely contended since their last playoff appearance in 1993.  “It just seems GM Alex Anthopoulos has to go through corporate layers to OK big expenditures, slowing the process considerably,” Cafardo writes.  “Players always want to know that their ownership is doing all it can to produce a winner.”
  • Braves closer Jason Grilli is one of the Blue Jays‘ targets as the team looks for bullpen help.  Grilli would cost less in both salary and trade chips than Jonathan Papelbon or Francisco Rodriguez, two closers who have also been connected to the Jays this summer.  Atlanta isn’t yet looking to move Grilli, however, as the team is still in the race.
  • Other have asked the Blue Jays about several players in trade talks, including young talent like Miguel Castro, Daniel Norris, Roberto Osuna, Kevin Pillar, Dalton Pompey, Aaron Sanchez and Devon Travis.
  • “Every indication is that” R.A. Dickey is in his last year with the Blue Jays, as the team will either use their $1MM buyout of Dickey’s $12MM club option for 2016 or Dickey may just retire.  The 40-year-old knuckleballer had a tough start today against the Tigers and now owns a 5.02 ERA over 107 2/3 innings this season.
  • Jeff Samardzija “may be the first starting pitcher moved ahead of the trading deadline” since “scouts are constantly at his games,” Cafardo writes.  The White Sox aren’t ready to start selling yet, but they’ll find a strong market for Samardzija’s services that includes the Royals, Astros and Tigers.  (Cafardo cited several more teams in the Samardzija market in his column last week.
  • Nobody knows what the Red Sox are going to do because they don’t know what they’re going to do,” one NL executive said.  Boston has played modestly better as of late, winning 10 of its last 16 games, though the Sox are still just 38-45 on the season.  Koji Uehara is cited by the executive as one of “a few players teams would want” if the Red Sox decided to start selling.  The team is known to be looking for young pitching on the trade market.


AL International Signings: Royals, Astros, Mariners, White Sox

Here are the day’s notable international signings from the American League. Rankings courtesy of Ben Badler of Baseball AmericaKiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.

  • The Royals have agreed to terms with Dominican outfielder Seuly Matias, Badler reports. He’ll get a $2.25MM bonus, per a Sanchez tweet. Matias ranked as high as seventh on international prospect lists, with Baseball America giving him that slot and citing his big upside. Matias is said to possess a legitimate gun from the outfield, and could have the athleticism to stick in center field. There are some questions about how advanced his bat is, but Matias reportedly has good bat speed and real promise if he can develop. Kansas City also added infielder Jeison Guzman for a $1.5MM price tag, Sanchez reports on Twitter. Badler was also the most optimistic evaluator on Guzman, writing that he still has plenty of growing to do but has good overall athleticism and a good feel for the shortstop position despite sub-par speed. With just $2,074,700 to play with this year, Kansas City could be on its way to a signing ban unless it can trade for additional bonus slots.
  • Outfielder Gilberto Celestino, a native of the Dominican Republic, has agreed to a $2.5MM bonus with the Astros, per Sanchez (via Twitter). MLB.com had him in the seventh position coming into today, explaining that he could be a long-term center fielder. Though some have questioned whether he has good enough raw tools to be an impactful player down the line, MLB.com says that Celestino has a good track record of production and solid makeup.
  • The Mariners have a $1.7MM deal in place with Dominican infielder Carlos Vargas, Sanchez reports on Twitter. Seattle lands a player that McDaniel placed tenth on his international prospect board. Vargas is both projectable and comes with a good track record, though he’s likely to move from short to third in the long run.
  • Outfielder Franklin Reyes is headed to the White Sox for $1.5MM, Sanchez tweets. Reyes rated near the back of the top thirty on the above-linked rankings. He’s already 6’4 and is adding weight, contributing to his big power potential and strong arm. He’ll have to improve his overall hitting ability and show enough mobility in the corner outfield to pan out, according to Badler. Chicago also added Fernando Tatis Jr., son of the former big leaguer, for a $700K bonus.

Cafardo On Buchholz, Samardzija, Cueto, Hamels

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe pit Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts against Tigers shorstop Jose Iglesias.  Of course, Boston once had both, but Iglesias was shipped out in 2013 in a three-team deal that brought Jake Peavy to Fenway.  Bogaerts offers more potential as a hitter, but Iglesias clearly has the superior glove.  That difference in the field never made Bogaerts doubt himself, however.

No, that’s just a guy who’s really gifted beyond anyone else,” Bogaerts said. “I just paid attention to trying to get better. I never compared myself to him because you can’t compare anyone to him. He’s a great defensive player and flashy.”

More from today’s column..

  • The same teams that are pursuing Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz are going after White Sox hurler Jeff Samardzija.  That list of teams includes the Royals, Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Cardinals, Orioles, Angels, and Dodgers, according to Cafardo.  Late last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Astros are also interested in Samardzija.  Meanwhile, at this time, the Red Sox reportedly are not interested in moving Buchholz.
  • The Astros are a team to watch in July as they could get very aggressive in their pursuit of a starter.  Cafardo hears that the Astros have been evaluating Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake quite a bit.  Cole Hamels obviously stands as one of the biggest prizes out there, but Cafardo feels he likely wouldn’t sign off on a trade to Houston.  Over the weekend, Hamels indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team.
  • Giants GM Bobby Evans told Cafardo that his club is out of the starting pitching market for now thanks to the upcoming returns of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy.
  • The Phillies would like to sell off their pieces little by little rather than make a ton of deals right at the deadline.  However, Cafardo hears that teams aren’t coming to the table with actual offers yet, leaving the Phillies frustrated.
  • Baseball execs who spoke with Cafardo say the Mets are still the best match for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  A package for Tulo could start with left-hander Steven Matz, who makes his big league debut today.
  • Even at his advanced age, one NL evaluator feels that Phillies veteran Carlos Ruiz is still “a better option than “more than 50 percent of the catchers in the league.”
  • Some teams are concerned with Hamels’ poor performance in interleague play while others see it just as a fluky thing.  Hamels has a career 4.73 ERA across 31 interleague starts.

AL Notes: Young, Aro, Smyly, Jaso

The Royals had little obvious need for veteran righty Chris Young heading into the season, but GM Dayton Moore had the team sign him anyway, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. The Royals offered a big-league deal just as Young was strongly considering a minor-league offer from the Dodgers, even though the Royals didn’t have a clear spot for Young in either their rotation or their bullpen. “The analytical guys can’t understand me, either,” says Moore. Moore’s “impulse,” as McCullough puts it, has paid off so far — Young has performed better than anyone else in the Royals rotation, except perhaps Edinson Volquez. Young’s contract calls for a base salary of just $675K, but he’s already reached some roster benchmarks, and he looks likely to collect incentives that should get him close to a maximum $6MM. Here’s more from the American League.

  • Red Sox righty Jonathan Aro‘s path to the big leagues was an unlikely one, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe writes. As a teenager, Aro twice contracted Dengue fever. He was already contemplating his life after baseball before finally signing at 20, a late age for a Dominican player, and for just $10K. “First of all, I signed as a 20-year-old. Secondly, I signed as a $10,000 guy. Thirdly, all the guys who signed in my class were high-dollar guys. I thought I was at the low end of the priority list,” says Aro through a translator. “So, in short, no — I didn’t think this was attainable.” Aro gradually made his way through the minors, though, and excelled for Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket this year, posting a combined 2.22 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 44 2/3 innings. He made his big-league debut Thursday.
  • Rays lefty Drew Smyly will pitch from a mound for the first time on Saturday since heading to the disabled list in May with a torn labrum, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. In early May, it looked like Smyly was headed for season-ending surgery, but he currently appears set to rejoin the Rays at some point late this season.
  • In other Rays injury news, DH John Jaso will start a rehab assignment Saturday with the Class A+ Charlotte Stone Crabs, Topkin tweets. Jaso has missed much of the season with a wrist injury. Jaso should provide the Rays with another reliable bat, although they’ve done well at DH this season, with Joey Butler and David DeJesus taking most the available plate appearances.

International Notes: Rankings, Spending, Alvarez, Guerrero

The 2015-16 international signing period kicks off in six days (July 2), which will lead to significant spending from clubs all around the league in an effort to bolster their farm system. The Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Angels and Diamondbacks will each be ineligible to sign a player for more than $300K due to vastly overshooting their league-assigned international bonus pools in the 2014-15 signing period. Meanwhile, the Cubs and Rangers will be back in the game after being similarly restricted in the 2014-15 period due to excessive spending in 2013-14. Both teams are expected to again be aggressive, though it’s the Dodgers who are rumored to be the most aggressive team on this year’s international market. Here are some notes on this year’s class of July 2 players…

  • Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has released an excellent sortable prospect board with scouting reports, video, projected bonus information and the likeliest landing spot, with information on 69 different international prospects (not all info available for all prospects). McDaniel currently projects the Dodgers to spend $27.05MM on the international market, though that number could grow, as it’s not clear where every prospect is going to land yet. That $27.05MM figure, by the way, comes out to more than $50MM after factoring in the 100% luxury tax they’ll pay for exceeding their $2,020,300 pool by more than 15 percent (pool info via Baseball America).
  • In addition to the Dodgers and Cubs, the Royals are expected to blow past their international spending limit as well, writes McDaniel in a separate piece. No one figures to match the Dodgers, though, who are “so recklessly signing whichever player they want for whatever number it takes that teams are openly wondering what top Cuban player they won’t sign during this period,” McDaniel notes. It’s currently tough to peg the market for top Cuban outfield prospect Eddy Julio Martinez, but the Dodgers should be considered the favorite for all Cuban players due to their hyper-aggressive approach, McDaniel adds. He also looks ahead to the 2016-17 market, touching on top names such as Kevin Maitan and Abraham Gutierrez.
  • Baseball America’s Ben Badler spoke to six scouts about top international prospects Yadier Alvarez (link) and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. (link). Alvarez’s name has been on the pages of MLBTR for months, as the Cuban righty is said to be the top international pitching prospect on the market thanks to a fastball that reaches 98 mph and the makings of a wipeout slider and an above-average changeup. Badler looks at his sudden emergence from obscurity and gets the takes of scouts who praise him, but also those who view him as a future reliever. As for Guerrero, scouts feel that he has the best combination of hitting ability and power in this year’s class, but he’s already a thick player with a so-so arm, leading to questions about his defensive placement down the line. Alvarez is believed to have a bonus of $16MM+ waiting from the Dodgers, whereas the Blue Jays have long been believed to have a deal with Guerrero (McDaniel pegs the value at $3.45MM).

AL Central Notes: Buxton, Twins, Sox, Ramirez, Royals, Santana

The Twins announced today that Byron Buxton has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a sprained left thumb that was suffered when sliding in an attempt to steal second base on Tuesday. Danny Santana, the club’s Opening Day shortstop, has been recalled to take Buxton’s roster spot. Presumably, Santana could see some time in center field, where he played extensively at the big league level in 2014. Some within the organization tell 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson that Buxton could be good to go within two weeks (Twitter links), but manager Paul Molitor took a more conservative approach, telling Go 96.3 Radio’s Dana Wessel that Buxton could miss a month or more (Twitter link).

More from the AL Central…

  • Twins general manager Terry Ryan spoke with FOX Sports North’s Tyler Mason in a lengthy Q&A, discussing the team’s unexpected status as a contender within the division and the timelines/future roles of some key prospects. Specifically, Ryan said that Miguel Sano‘s bat is well ahead of his glove, adding that while that’s OK, he does need to continue to improve his fielding and all-around game. Regarding Alex Meyer, who was promoted to the Majors for today’s game to join the team’s bullpen, Ryan said the team has not closed the book on Meyer as a starting pitcher. He also addressed the impending return of Ervin Santana and the potential rotation logjam that will face the Twins.
  • Jeff Samardzija spoke with Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune about the likelihood of hearing his name in trade rumors over the coming month due to the White Sox‘ poor standing in the AL Central. Samardzija, who has been traded twice in the past calendar year, said those previous two swaps have helped him learn to ignore the rumors. “It’s easy to get distracted in this game, whether it’s trade rumors or personal life,” said Samardzija. “…It’s so important to make your priorities between the foul lines.” It’s not known for sure that Samardzija will be shopped, but Sullivan notes that the White Sox are willing to part with the struggling Alexei Ramirez. Of course, given Ramirez’s $10MM salary, declining glove and .222/.243/.293 batting line, he’d likely be difficult to move.
  • The Royals are looking at second base, the starting rotation and right field as potential areas to upgrade via the trade market, writes Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star in this morning’s mailbag. However, he notes that GM Dayton Moore has never made a blockbuster addition in July, and opines the team is better than it was in 2014 when it elected not to make a deal and rode its core to the World Series.
  • In his latest notes column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that the Indians haven’t lived up to expectations to this point and are facing a tough road trip during which they’ll face the Orioles, Rays and Pirates. Rosenthal wonders if Carlos Santana may eventually be made available — a topic on which Jeff Todd and I have speculated regularly on the MLBTR Podcast (including just last week). Rosenthal feels that a team like the Red Sox would have interest in Santana due to his affordable 2016 salary ($8.25MM) and 2017 club option ($12MM).

Royals Showing Interest In Cueto, Leake, Zobrist

The Royals are casting a wide net in their search for upgrades on the trade market and have shown signs of interest in Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Ben Zobrist, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

The Reds have, in fact, received inquiries from multiple clubs on Cueto, Leake and Aroldis Chapman, Morosi continues, but Cincinnati is still reluctant to engage in serious trade discussions despite sitting 12.5 games back in the NL Central. Likewise, Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, hears that the A’s are in no rush to move Zobrist, as the team is still trying to get back into the race (Twitter link). Rosenthal adds that it’s not entirely clear if the Royals have inquired on Zobrist specifically, but they’ve discussed upgrading at second base, making Zobrist a logical target.

Many pundits feel that while a sale of veteran pieces is only a matter of time for the Reds, they’ll wait until after hosting next month’s All-Star Game before doing so. It would, after all, be a bitter pill to swallow for Cincinnati natives to watch Cueto and Chapman pitch in the All-Star Game while wearing another club’s jersey.

On last week’s MLBTR Podcast, Jeff Todd and I discussed the Reds’ trade possibilities at length. I posited that given the sheer volume of appealing pieces the team could trade, it’s possible that Cincinnati could enjoy a Braves-esque turnaround by willingly listening to offers on not only Cueto, Chapman and Leake, but also Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier.

As for the Athletics, their reluctance to throw in the towel has been noted before, but the team remains 10 games under .500 and 10 games out of first in the AL West even after going 17-11 over the past month. They’re a slightly more manageable eight games back from a second consecutive Wild Card playoff berth, but there’s a clear uphill battle for the A’s to become serious contenders again.

From the Royals’ standpoint, it’s not hard to see why they’d be interested in an upgrade at second base. Setting aside the avalanche of Omar Infante/All-Star jokes already pouring in on Twitter, Kansas City second basemen have combined to hit a woeful .230/.248/.307 this season. Of course, Infante is owed a significant $22.01MM through the end of the 2017 season. (That number will rise by $500K if he does indeed start the All-Star game.)

A rotation upgrade would seem sensible for Royals GM Dayton Moore as well; the Kansas City rotation has produced just a 4.37 ERA this season (21st in the league), and metrics such as FIP and xFIP feel that’s a pretty fair indicator of what to expect based on the talent the Royals are working with. Just three pitchers have made 10 or more starts for the Royals this year, and two of them are Yordano Ventura and Jeremy Guthrie, who have posted respective ERAs of 4.68 and 5.55. Both Cueto and Leake, then, stand out as logical trade targets for the first-place Royals, while on the Oakland side of the equation, names like Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez could come into play. Cueto, Leake and Kazmir are all free agents at season’s end, where the late-blooming and somewhat unheralded Chavez is controllable through the 2016 season.


Red Sox Claim Erik Kratz Off Waivers

12:56pm: The Red Sox announced that they have claimed Kratz off waivers.  Kratz will provide the team with depth now that Blake Swihart is listed as day-to-day with a sprained left foot.

12:28pm: Erik Kratz has been claimed off waivers by an unknown team, MLBTR has learned.  The catcher was designated for assignment by the Royals on June 11th.

The claiming team is currently unknown, but the Mets and Red Sox both saw catchers leave the game with injury yesterday.  The Mets, however, already have depth behind the plate in Kevin Plawecki and Anthony Recker, so the Red Sox might be the more probable destination.

Most of Kratz’s career has been spent with the Phillies, but he’s also had brief stints in Toronto and Kansas City. All told, Kratz has shown nice power but low batting average and on-base capabilities, as evidenced by a .217/.270/.400 batting line. He’s also a skilled pitch-framer, however, and he’s thrown out 32 percent of attempted base-stealers in his big league career.

Kratz was scheduled to return from the 15-day disabled list earlier this month but was designated for assignment before he could be called back into action for KC.  Kratz would have served as Salvador Perez‘s backup in Kansas City had he stayed on board, but that job has gone to Drew Butera instead.