Kansas City Royals Rumors

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

Royals Will Attempt To Re-Sign James Shields

The Royals will make an effort to bring back top starter James Shields through free agency, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Shields, 32, has given Kansas City 455 2/3 innings of 3.18 ERA ball over the last two regular seasons, and is still pitching for the team in October.

While the club’s run to the ALCS has made that a return a more plausible scenario, Heyman says that the starting point for the decision came around the trade deadline. At that point in the middle of the summer, the club informed Shields’s agent, Page Odle, that it would be in touch after the season — a sign which seemingly indicated that a run at Shields was at least a possibility.

As I wrote back in March, landing Shields figures to be quite an expensive proposition, but perhaps will not be prohibitive even for the small-budget Royals. If past comps are any indication, even adjusted for inflation, Shields may not be able to exceed nine figures (if he gets five years at all) unless a true bidding war emerges. That could bode well for Kansas City’s chances.

Also helping the Royals’ cause is the qualifying offer that the team will make and Shields will surely decline. While he is an expensive enough player that the impact may not be too substantial, other clubs will need to weigh the cost of giving up a draft choice to sign him. (Of course, as a practical matter, so will Kansas City.)

As Heyman notes, the substantial revenue boost that the club should see from its postseason run will certainly play a role in determining whether the payroll space can be found for Shields. Not only will the team benefit from a playoff gate, merchandise sales, and the like, but should see increases in future streams through mechanisms such as season ticket sales.

All that being said, Shields will have plenty of suitors to choose from. After all, he is attractive to plenty of other clubs for largely the same reason he is to the Royals: in theory, he could represent a more achievable, less-risky investment on a shorter/smaller deal than other top free agent starters Max Scherzer and Jon Lester. Of course, if that kind of reasoning attracts enough bidders, it could drive Shields’s price tag up significantly.


East Notes: Sandoval, Burnett, Shields, Mets

The AL East champion Orioles are looking for their first playoff sweep since they eliminated the A’s in the 1971 ALCS as they face the Tigers in Game Three of their ALDS. The NL East champion Nationals, meanwhile, will look to avoid being swept by the Giants tomorrow in their NLDS.

Here’s the latest from baseball’s East divisions:

  • Pablo Sandoval, with his personality and left-handed bat, would be a good fit for the Red Sox, opines the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Despite Sandoval’s weight issues and a declining OPS over the past four seasons, Cafardo hears the third baseman will command a five-year, $100MM pact with the Yankees and Dodgers joining Boston in the bidding.
  • A.J. Burnett‘s decision whether to exercise his $12.75MM player option will dictate how the Phillies‘ offseason unfolds, according to CSNPhilly.com’s Corey Seidman. If Burnett declines the option, the Phillies will have the financial flexibility required to make impactful free agent signings and begin the necessary roster overhaul, Seidman writes.
  • The James Shields-Wil Myers trade between the Rays and Royals is still under evaluation, notes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. At this point, who “won” the trade depends on whom you ask.
  • The Mets don’t need a spending spree to improve for 2015, posits Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Of course, it would be nice if they could spend the necessary money to sign free agent catcher Russell Martin, but there are cheaper ways they can upgrade their offense. One idea Sherman has is calling the Red Sox to inquire on a Bartolo Colon for Shane Victorino deal.

Minor Moves: Free Agents, Blue Jays

Here are the latest minor moves from around the game.



Rule 5 Draft Roundup

With the regular season in the books, it’s worth assessing how things ultimately shook out from last winter’s Rule 5 draft. Only nine players were taken in this year’s draft. Here’s where things stand:

Remember, players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they aren’t on the 40-man roster four or five years after signing, depending on the age at which they signed. If a team makes a selection, it pays the former team $50K and must keep that player on the Major League roster all season or offer him back to his original team for $25K. (Note that Rule 5 selections can change hands like any other player, with an acquiring team stepping into the shoes of the original selecting club. Click here for more details.)

  • Patrick Schuster, LHP (taken first overall by the Astros from the Diamondbacks): Returned to Arizona. But not before a somewhat eventful tour. He was first dealt to the Padres, then placed on waivers and claimed by the Royals before finally being sent back. He never ended up throwing a big league inning, and ultimately struggled to 4.50 ERA in 18 frames at Triple-A once back with the D’backs.
  • Adrian Nieto, C (taken third overall by the White Sox from the Nationals): Retained by Chicago. The switch-hitting, 24-year-old backstop hung on all year, posting a .236/.296/.340 line in his first 118 MLB plate appearances. He is now White Sox property.
  • Kevin Munson, RHP (taken fourth overall by the Phillies from the Diamondbacks): Returned to Arizona. Munson never made it onto the active roster, and was sent back in mid-March. Though he never saw MLB action this year, he did post a rather dominant campaign at Triple-A: 2.60 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 3.2 BB/9.
  • Tommy Kahnle, RHP (taken eighth overall by the Rockies from the Yankees): Retained by Colorado. The 25-year-old was an oft-used bullpen piece for the Rockies, posting a 4.19 ERA in 68 2/3 frames with 8.3 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9. Colorado owns his rights moving forward.
  • Brian Moran, LHP (taken ninth overall by the Blue Jays from the Mariners): Still in limbo after season-ending surgery. Moran was dealt by Toronto to the Angels on the day of the draft, and opened the season DL’ed on the active roster. But his left elbow ultimately required Tommy John surgery, meaning that he ended up on the 60-day DL. The Halos do not yet own Moran’s rights permanently: to keep him, the club will need to carry him on the active roster without a DL stay for at least 90 days.
  • Seth Rosin, RHP (taken tenth overall by the Mets from the Phillies): Returned to Philadelphia. Dealt immediately after the draft to the Dodgers, Rosin was claimed by the Rangers late in the spring and made three appearances before his roster spot was needed and he was returned. Back at Triple-A with the Phillies, he worked to a 3.86 ERA over 58 1/3 rames.
  • Wei-Chung Wang, LHP (taken eleventh overall by the Brewers from the Pirates): Retained by Milwaukee. It took some doing, but a contending Brewers club was able to hold onto Wang for the entirety of the season. Though he did miss 45 games with a DL stint, Wang ultimately made only 14 appearances for the club. The 22-year-old will presumably be stretched out as a starter again as he returns to his development track in the lower minors.
  • Marcos Mateo, RHP (taken fifteenth overall by the Diamondbacks from the Cubs): Returned to Chicago. Mateo was the first player to be returned, heading back in mid-March. The 30-year-old threw to a 3.86 ERA in 37 1/3 innings upon his return to Triple-A with his original team.
  • Michael Almanzar, 3B (taken sixteenth overall by the Orioles from the Red Sox): Returned to Boston … but ultimately traded back to Baltimore. Shelved with injury for much of the year, Almanzar was returned to the Red Sox in the middle of the summer after a rehab stint. But the O’s obviously wanted him back, and added him as part of the Kelly Johnson deal. Over 233 minor league plate appearances on the year, Almanzar posted a .245/.322/.389 slash.

AL Central Notes: Moore, Twins, White Sox

With the Royals playing in the postseason for the first time in nearly three decades, general manager Dayton Moore has been validated, at least in part, writes ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. The small-market club has stayed with the principles he carried into the job. As Moore explains it: “We’ve got to play defense. Power is expensive and power comes later, and our ballpark just isn’t conducive to home runs, anyway. So we asked ourselves, ‘What can we control?’ We said, ‘Let’s get pitchers who can command the fastball, try to have power in the bullpen and play great defense.’ Of course, we’re trying to develop good hitters, but hitting is tough.” Needless to say, that quote is an apt description of the Royals roster that is on the field tonight.

Here’s more from the AL Central:

  • The Twins have yet to finalize a payroll but expect it to remain steady with this year’s books, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports on Twitter. According to club president Dave St. Peter, he does not “see [payroll] going down significantly” and expects it will be “comparable to 2014.” The club opened this year with about $85MM in guarantees, and already owes nearly $60MM for 2015 before accounting for arb raises to several players, including Trevor Plouffe.
  • As the Twins fire up their effort to find a new manager, one possible name to watch is John Russell, tweets Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. Russell managed the Pirates at an inopportune time (2008-10) and has coached with the Orioles since that time.
  • Meanwhile, GM Rick Hahn of the White Sox faces an offseason of many possibilities, but has yet to learn exactly how much cash he’ll have to work with, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports. Saying he intends to move toward contention as quickly as possible, Hahn emphasized that it is his “goal to address ideally all of what we feel are our needs, before they shift, as quickly as possible.” Though last winter was quite productive for Chicago, Hahn says he is excited to act aggressively again this year. As Merkin notes, Hahn should have some room to maneuver, as Chicago has only about $46MM in 2015 obligations on the books at present.

AL Central Notes: Konerko, Hahn, Giambi, Moore

Paul Konerko‘s 18-year career officially ended yesterday, as he left the field for a defensive replacement before the sixth inning and received a lengthy ovation from the fans at U.S. Cellular Field (video link).  Konerko retires with a career .279/.354/.486 slash line, 439 homers, a 2005 World Series ring and an ALCS MVP Award from that same championship season.  ESPN’s Jayson Stark notes that Konerko’s career path is unique in baseball history, as he spent his first two seasons in brief stints with the Dodgers and Reds before spending his final 16 years with the White Sox.  We at MLBTR congratulate Konerko on his excellent career and wish him all the best in retirement.

Here’s some more from around the AL Central…

  • Rick Hahn thinks the White Sox can contend in 2015, the general manager told reporters (including CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes).  The central goal is to keep adding to the team’s core, Hahn said, though extra payroll space will make an expensive short-term contract possible if the team feels such a deal will help put them over the top.  “I think we are pleased with a lot of the progress we’ve made in the last 15 months, but we’re by no means, first satisfied, nor operating under the belief that we’re by any means finished, in terms of assembling a core and a unit that can contend on annual basis,” Hahn said.
  • Indians slugger Jason Giambi isn’t thinking about whether or not he’ll play in 2015, for now just focusing on spending time with his family in the offseason, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian writes.  Giambi will turn 44 in January and has played an even 20 seasons in the majors.  If he does hang up his cleats, it seems likely that a coaching job awaits Giambi, quite possibly with the Tribe; the slugger said in April 2013 that he’d already turned down several coaching offers in order to keep playing for as long as he could.
  • The blockbuster trade that bought James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals in exchange for a prospect package headlined by Wil Myers is “everything that we hoped it would be,” Royals GM Dayton Moore told MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel.  “When you make deals, you hope and expect them to work for both organizations. I think it’s turned out that way. It strengthened our pitching to a point where we were able to play competitive baseball from the first day to the last.”  Shields is a free agent this winter and is unlikely to be re-signed by Kansas City, though Davis (who just completed one of the great relief seasons in baseball history) is controllable via team options through 2017.

Cafardo On Moore, Hart, Wotus, Hughes

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at nine managers and GMs to watch. The Braves search for a new GM features prominently on the list. While Royals owner David Glass won’t prevent GM Dayton Moore from pursuing the opening in Atlanta, the matter of compensation could still complicate a move. When the Red Sox traded Theo Epstein to the Cubs, they only acquired an unaccomplished reliever in Chris Carpenter. The Royals would want more in return for Moore.

  • If Atlanta’s interim GM John Hart decides to pass on the permanent position, he’ll be heavily involved in picking his successor. Hart helped groom several future GMs like Ben Cherington, Neal Huntington, and Mark Shapiro. Assistant GM John Coppolella could be next on the list.
  • It’s surprising Giants bench coach Ron Wotus isn’t connected to more managerial searches. Wotus is Bruce Bochy’s right-hand man and a former PCL manager of the year. My personal observation: the trend of hiring recently retired players has hurt the visibility of Wotus.
  • A poll of 12 GMs found in favor of paying Phil Hughes the $500,000 bonus for reaching 210 innings. He fell one-third of an inning short due to a rain delay. He also had another start affected by rain earlier in September. Eight GMs were in favor of paying Hughes with four opposed. Those against the idea cited contractual reasons. As we learned earlier this week, the CBA prevents the Twins from simply paying the bonus to Hughes without restructuring his contract.

Josh Willingham Likely To Retire After Season

5:57pm: Willingham says that he has yet to decide whether or not he will play next year, as Berardino tweets.

3:30pm: Right-handed slugger Josh Willingham has decided to retire following the conclusion of the 2014 campaign, according to a report from Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. According to Berardino, the 35-year-old Willingham has told people close to him that he is “100 percent retiring,” although agent Matt Sosnick tells MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes (Twitter link) that “Josh and [his wife] Ginger haven’t made a definitive decision.”

Willingham has been slowed by a groin injury for much of September, which comes just months after he missed nearly two months with a fractured wrist (suffered when he was hit by a pitch) and a year after he missed a large chunk of the 2013 season with a torn meniscus.

Willingham inked a three-year, $21MM contract with the Twins in the 2011-12 offseason and proceeded to have a career year, mashing 35 homers and posting a very strong .260/.366/.524 batting line in 2012, despite playing in the pitcher-friendly confines of Minneapolis’ Target Field. However, since that time he’s batted .212/.345/.382 as he’s battled those injuries. Minnesota flipped him to the division-rival Royals in exchange for pitching prospect Jason Adam in August.

A late bloomer, Willingham didn’t make his Major League debut until age 25 and didn’t see more than 29 plate appearances in a season until his age-27 campaign with the Marlins. However, he quickly established himself as an on-base machine and a power threat, as he posted an OPS+ and wRC+ of at least 100 (league average) or better in each season from 2006-14 (with the exception of an OPS+ of 96 last year).

In total, Willingham has put together a .253/.359/.465 batting line with 195 home runs in his Major League career. As Berardino notes, his 35-homer campaign in 2012 makes him one of just three players in Twins franchise history with a 35-homer season, joining late Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew and 1959 Rookie of the Year Bob Allison. With the Royals almost certainly ticketed for the playoffs, Willingham is set to make the first postseason appearance of his 11-year big league career in October. He’s earned $35.6MM as a Major Leaguer, per Baseball-Reference.com.


AL Central Notes: Hughes, Tomas, Petricka, Finnegan

Phil Hughes‘ excellent season with the Twins has been a bright spot in an otherwise bleak season for Minnesota, and his final start on Wednesday had plenty of significance. Hughes whiffed five hitters and walked none, giving him an 11.63-to-1 K/BB ratio on the season — a new Major League record. However, it rained in Minneapolis for a little over an hour after the eighth inning, causing Hughes’ start to end even though he had thrown just 96 pitches. That caused Hughes to fall an unthinkable one out shy of a $500K bonus — an incentive he would have triggered upon reaching 210 innings. As Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com tweeted after the game, manager Ron Gardenhire said Hughes will not pitch in relief this weekend in order to reach the $500K bonus — meaning that poor weather (Hughes also had a Sept. 13 start rained out) will likely cost him half a million dollars. Hughes told Bollinger that he was very aware of what he needed to do Wednesday in order to secure his final contractual incentive but took the terrible luck in stride, saying, “Some things aren’t meant to be.” Hughes did earn $250K worth of bonuses for reaching both 180 and 195 innings, bringing his 2014 salary to $8.5MM.

More from the AL Central…

  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski tells Chris Iott of MLive.com that the Tigers had scouts on hand to see Yasmany Tomas in the Dominican Republic this past Sunday, but he wouldn’t tip his hand as to whether or not his club was scheduling a private workout with the slugger. The Rangers and Phillies have both had private workouts with Tomas, who was the subject of MLBTR’s first Free Agent Profile of the upcoming offseason. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes pegged Tomas for seven years and $105MM — a contract that would be a record-setter in terms of total guarantee and average annual value for a Cuban player.
  • While the White Sox figure to add to their bullpen this offseason, Jake Petricka has carved out a role as future member of the group, writes Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. The 26-year-old Petricka has seen time in the closer’s role this season, converting 14 of 18 save opportunities and pitching to a 2.88 ERA in 72 innings. While he doesn’t have an elite strikeout rate (6.9 K/9), his 63.9 percent ground-ball rate ranks fifth among qualified relievers. Fellow right-hander Zach Putnam — he of a 1.98 ERA in 54 2/3 innings — also figures to be a bullpen cog for the South Siders going forward, Kane notes.
  • Though he was only drafted three and a half months ago, Brandon Finnegan has emerged as a bullpen weapon for the Royals, and assistant GM J.J. Picollo tells Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that the team won’t rule out Finnegan breaking camp with the team in 2015. The team’s ultimate vision is to use Finnegan as a starter, so it’s more likely that he begins next year at Double-A or Triple-A, McCullough notes. Still, the team plans to replace James Shields internally, writes McCullough, and Picollo refused to put any hard limitations on Finnegan’s trajectory: “I don’t think it’s out of the question that he would start (the season) in the major leagues. … I’m not saying it’s what we’re going to do. But he’ll be given an opportunity to win a job on the team.”

Alcides Escobar Joins The Legacy Agency

Alcides Escobar, formerly represented by the Kinzer Management Group, has changed agencies and is now represented by the Legacy Agency, reports Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal. Escobar will be represented by Peter Greenberg.

The 27-year-old Escobar has enjoyed a bounceback season after a woeful 2013 at the plate, improving his slash line from .234/.259/.300 to .281/.314/.376. Ultimate Zone Rating has pegged Escobar as an above-average throughout his career, and Fangraphs rates his baserunning ability among the best in the game. Over the past three seasons, only Mike Trout, Jacoby Ellsbury and Rajai Davis have provided more value on the basepaths.

Escobar signed a four-year, $10.5MM extension back in Spring Training of the 2012 season. (That contract was signed when Escobar was with the Wasserman Media Group, which Kinzer Management split from in October of 2012.) He’s set to earn $3MM in 2015, and the Royals hold a pair of club options on him for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, which are valued at $5.25MM and $6.5MM, respectively. Each contains a $500K buyout. Those options seem like no-brainers for the Royals, given Escobar’s solid glove and strong baserunning skills, and the fact that in two of the past three seasons, he’s posted OPS+ and wRC+ marks north of 90.

The Legacy Agency represents a host of big league players, including Michael Brantley, Melky Cabrera, Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn and Francisco Liriano, to name a few. Their clientele, as well as information on more than 2,000 Major League and Minor League players, can be seen in MLBTR’s Agency Database. If you see any errors or notable omissions, please let us know: mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.