Kansas City Royals Rumors

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

All-Star Berths Could Cost Royals $1.275MM

Eight Royals hitters lead their positions in AL All-Star balloting, which is amusing story for Royals fans and for Major League Baseball. Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star points out, however, that so many All-Star selections could have an effect on the Royals’ bottom line. If the Royals do in fact send eight starters to the All-Star Game, it could cost them $1.25MM in escalators and incentives. If reliever Wade Davis makes the team, he would get a $25K bonus as part of the contract he originally signed with the Rays, raising the Royals’ total payout to $1.275MM.

Second baseman Omar Infante would get $250K in 2016 and again in 2017 due to a clause in his contract that gives him $250K for each future season after receiving an All-Star berth or Silver Slugger award. Catcher Salvador Perez could receive $350K spread over his three option seasons ($50K in 2016, $100K in 2017 and $200K in 2018). In addition, each player selected (also potentially including Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas and Kendrys Morales) would get a $50K bonus as part of a standard clause in the Royals’ contracts.

The Royals had already reportedly been planning to consider re-working Perez’s incredibly cheap contract. They’re under no obligation to do so, but if they do, the All-Star clauses in his current deal won’t be likely to matter much.

McCullough points out, however, that an additional cost of the Royals’ All-Star berths might come in the form of greater arbitration raises for Moustakas and Cain. Moustakas currently makes $2.64MM, while Cain makes $2.73MM. Both have two years of arbitration eligibility remaining. All-Star selections could increase their future arbitration-year salaries.

McCullough notes that Cain has interest in a long-term deal. Hosmer, meanwhile, is signed through 2016, and it does not appear likely the Royals will keep him after he becomes a free agent following the 2017 season.

Nonetheless, the Royals don’t appear outwardly concerned about the additional payouts. Their financial effect probably pales in importance to the success the Royals have experienced in the past few seasons and the goodwill their players’ current standing in All-Star balloting seems to reflect.

Every single night, you pull hard for your players,” says Royals GM Dayton Moore. “I hope they reach all their goals. I hope they reach all their bonuses. It’s good for them.”

Draft Signings: Marshall, Hillman, Blankenhorn, Davila

It’s time to get caught up on some draft signings. Slot values courtesy of Baseball America.

  • The Giants have agreed to a well-above-slot, $750K bonus with fourth-round pick Mac Marshall, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. You might remember that Marshall was taken in the late rounds last year by the Astros, who fell short of a rumored last-minute attempt at a deal with him as they tried to work things out with Brady Aiken. Marshall had been set to play for LSU, but ultimately ended up in Junior College so that he could re-enter the draft.
  • Second-rounder Juan Hillman inked with the Indians, the club announced. The deal is for $825K, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter). Cleveland also announced several other signings, including third-rounder Mark Mathias and fourth-round pick Tyler Krieger. MLB.com rated Hillman the 52nd-best player available, noting that the prep lefty is the son of long-time big leaguer Tom Gordon and half-brother of Dee Gordon. ESPN.com’s Keith Law had the highest grade on Hillman, ranking him 31st heading into the draft on the basis of his excellent feel and command at a young age.
  • Twins third-rounder Travis Blankenhorn gets a $650K bonus, Callis tweets. The high school third baseman was taken 80th overall, which came with a $754K slot allotment. Baseball America rated Blankenhorn 75th on its board, citing his athleticism, nice swing, and overall solid tools. Minnesota also added fourth-round pick Trey Cabbage for an above-slot $760K bonus, also per a Callis tweet. His signing was previously reported, but not the bonus amount, which lands well above the slot value of $517,900.
  • The Royals went over $300K above slot ($431,100) to sign high school lefty Garrett Davila, Callis tweets. He receives a $746K bonus after entering the draft rated within Law’s top 100 list. His fastball is not a very impressive offerin at present, but he has an above-average curve and still has some growing to do.
  • Javier Medina, the third-round pick of the Rockies, gets $740K to forego his commitment to the University of Arizona, Callis reports on Twitter. The 77th overall pick came with a $789,700 allotment, so Colorado will pick up some savings to add a pitcher who shows more feel than pure stuff, per Baseball America.
  • Pirates third-round selection Casey Hughston lands a $700K bonus that lands $107,300 above the slot value, per Callis (via Twitter). The Alabama outfielder has good all-around tools in addition to plus raw power, MLB.com wrote in raking him 95th among available players. Pittsburgh fourth-rounder Jacob Taylor, a righty from Pearl River Community College, has agreed to a $500K bonus, Callis tweets. That represents a $60.6K bump over the slot value for the 127th overall pick.
  • The third-round pick of the Tigers, Dallas Baptist pitcher Drew Smith, announced that he has signed (h/t to MLB.com’s Jason Beck). Callis reports on Twitter that the live-armed college righty will take home the slot value of $575,800.
  • The Braves have agreed to a $550K deal with third-round pick Anthony Guardado, Callis tweets. That signing saves the club $106,300 against the slot value of the 89th pick. Callis calls the high school righty a true pop-up prospect, and indeed he did not receive much pre-draft attention.
  • Fourth round pick Demi Orimoloye will sign for a $450K bonus, according to Callis (on Twitter), just shy of the $456,600 allotment for the 121st pick. The Canadian outfielder (who was born in Nigeria) drew rave reviews from BA, which rated him 41st heading into the draft based upon his loud tools and tall ceiling. There’s a lot of polishing that needs to be done, it seems, but Orimoloye looks to be a nice risk for the Brewers at this price tag.
  • Phillies fifth-round pick Bailey Falter, a projectable lefty, gets an above-slot $420K bonus, Callis tweets. Philly took him 144th overall, which came with a $373,100 slot value.
  • The 11th-round pick of the Mets, lefty Jake Simon, has agreed to a $400K bonus, Callis tweets. $300K of that money will count against New York’s overall pool, as any amount over $100K does for players taken after the tenth round.

Injury Notes: Moscot, Medlen, Lagares

Reds right-hander Jon Moscot appears to be done for the season, writes MLB.com’s Robert Bondy. The rookie starting pitcher suffered a dislocated left (non-throwing) shoulder in his most recent outing while tagging out Anthony Gose in a rundown. Moscot will require surgery to repair what has been termed “significant” damage in the shoulder. Manager Bryan Price told Bondy and others that it would be “optimistic” to expect Moscot to pitch again in 2015, making the 23-year-old righty latest addition to a rapidly growing list of injured Reds. Homer Bailey is out for the season following Tommy John surgery, and Zack Cozart will miss the remainder of the year due to torn ligaments and tendons in his knee. Marlon Byrd is presently sidelined with a fractured wrist, and a hip impingement has prevented Devin Mesoraco from playing for nearly the entire season. In three starts this season, Moscot allowed six runs in 11 2/3 innings for the Reds, striking out six and walking five. With Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake looking like probable trade candidates, a strong early impression from Moscot could have potentially positioned him to remain in the rotation for the duration of the 2015 season. The good news for Moscot is that, according to Price, he’s expected to be ready for the 2016 campaign.

A couple more notable injury updates from around the league…

  • Kris Medlen is slated to begin a rehab assignment with the Royals‘ Double-A affiliate on Friday, which will commence a 30-day window to complete a rehab assignment, tweets MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Medlen is said to be “all systems go” at this point in his recovery from a second Tommy John surgery. The Royals will hope that he’s healthy enough to join what has been a lackluster rotation in the season’s second half and help the team remain atop of a close race with the Twins, Tigers and Indians in the AL Central.
  • Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters on Thursday that Juan Lagares is playing through an elbow ailment that could be fixed by either rest or Tommy John surgery, but the Record’s Matt Ehalt writes that surgery is not on the table for Lagares at this time. Both Collins and GM Sandy Alderson said that the injury is something that Lagares can play through, with Collins adding that “a lot of guys” have previously played through this particular ailment. “We just have to be careful he doesn’t get crazy and make an awkward throw or try to overthrow too much,” said Collins. Alderson added that the injury is “not an issue” and that surgery is “not on our radar.”

Royals Agree To Terms With Nolan Watson

The Royals have agreed to an at-slot, $1,825,200 bonus with 33rd overall selection Nolan Watson, Jim Callis of MLB.com tweets. That pick came to the club for losing James Shields in free agency after he declined a qualifying offer.

Kansas City has also put its other two highest selections in the books, with Ashe Russell‘s signing announced yesterday and second-round pick Josh Staumont also reportedly agreeing to terms. All said, K.C. is just $6K over its draft pool from those three signings, and it has locked in significant savings from several choices further down the line.

Watson earned the 36th spot on the board of Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, the top slot awarded by a draft pundit. Something of a late-bloomer who played high school ball in Indiana, Watson impressed with a mid-90s fastball. MLB.com, which ranked him 61st among draft-eligible players, also noted that Watson owns three promising offspeed offerings.

ESPN.com’s Keith Law had Watson in the 50th overall spot, while Baseball America rated him 56th. Law likes Watson’s ceiling due to his quick arm, but notes that the youngster could ultimately end up as a pen piece if he can’t clean up his mechanics somewhat.

AL Central Notes: Buxton, Sox, V-Mart, Tigers, Young

Speaking about the team’s recent promotion of top prospect Byron Buxton, Twins GM Terry Ryan told Kris Atteberry of Twins Radio (audio link): “We brought up Buxton because he’s the best one we had available at the time. We have a few guys down there that we considered, but they aren’t as good as Buxton, so we brought up Byron to give him a shot. … I’m hoping that things go well enough that we don’t have to worry about it.” Based on Ryan’s comments, it seems that Buxton will have the opportunity to play his way into a regular role moving forward. A productive Buxton would certainly increase Minnesota’s chances of remaining in the hunt for the division and could also eliminate a potential area of need in trades — an upgrade in the outfield.

More from the AL Central…

  • Asked by MLB.com’s Scott Merkin about the possibility of the White Sox becoming deadline sellers, David Robertson said that he would be understanding of any route that GM Rick Hahn felt was best for the team. “If that happens, you know, that’s just part of the game,” said the closer, who signed a four-year, $46MM contract this winter. “That’s obviously a decision that I’m not even involved in. The organization has to do what’s best for them. If that’s the way this season turns out, then so be it.” Robertson, however, feels that the Sox still have the pieces to contend and believes a turnaround is possible with strong performances against division rivals in Kansas City and Detroit. Chicago is currently seven games under .500 and nine back in the AL Central.
  • Victor Martinez will rejoin the Tigers this weekend in New York and could be activated from the disabled list at that time, writes James Schmehl of MLive.com. Martinez has been out since May 19 but looked strong on a Triple-A rehab assignment to date, going 4-for-12 with a double in 12 plate appearances.
  • In a mailbag column, Schmehl addresses potential trade scenarios for the Tigers this summer, reporting that the team will consider adding starting pitching. Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir are two seemingly speculative names tossed out by Schmehl. He adds that Detroit is likely to add a relief arm as well, though not an elite closer like Aroldis Chapman, as the team is happy with Joakim Soria in the ninth inning.
  • In a piece for FOX Sports, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs examines the unique nature of Chris Young‘s ability to drastically outperform his FIP by virtue of consistently posting one of the lowest BABIP marks in baseball. While there’s a good amount of luck involved in BABIP, Young’s extreme fly-ball tendencies — specifically his ability to induce infield flies — has allowed him to post a .240 BABIP dating back to 2006. Cameron notes that in such a heavily analytical era, it’s not surprising that teams were so reluctant to gamble on a 36-year-old soft-tosser with a 5.02 FIP in 2014, but Young’s mastery of a rare skill set has made him a bargain.

Royals Sign First-Rounder Ashe Russell

The Royals announced that they have signed first-round pick Ashe Russell (Twitter link). Russell, a high school right-hander out of Indiana, agreed to terms on a bonus of $2,190,200, which is $6K over the slot value for the No. 21 overall selection, reports MLB.com’s Jim Callis (on Twitter).

Callis and MLB.com colleague Jonathan Mayo ranked Russell as the top high school arm in the draft and the 14th-best prospect overall. Baseball America ranked him 17th, while ESPN’s Keith Law had him at No. 30, and Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel rated Russell 37th.

Russell works at 92-95 mph with a slider that can be a swing-and-miss offering in the 78-82 mph range, per MLB.com’s free scouting report. Late life on his fastball helps Russell to generate a large number of ground balls, BA writes, though he’s struggled to repeat the release point on his three-quarter arm slot at times. McDaniel rates him a bit lower due to only showing two plus pitches and command that’s “just alright,” and ESPN feels that his tendency to throw across his body and lack of a plus changeup will leave him vulnerable to lefties.

Draft Signings: Staumont, Finley, Jones, Kramer, Perkins

Here are the day’s significant draft signings of less than $1MM, with slot values via Baseball America. All signing links to Twitter.

  • Royals second-rounder Josh Staumont will receive the 64th selection’s full $964,600 slot value, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports. The MLB.com prospect team was highest among evaluators on Staumont, listing the collegiate righty as the 65th-best player available and crediting his top-of-class arm strength. Though he has issues with hitting the zone, Staumont has flashed enough easy velocity and promise with his secondary offerings to have a lofty ceiling.
  • The Yankees will pay third-round choice Drew Finley an above-slot $950K bonus, Mayo reports. That’s $323,400 above the 92nd pick’s alloted pool space. ESPN.com’s Keith Law likes Finley quite a bit, explaining that the prep righty combines the projection and control to profile as a future starter. New York also agreed to an at-slot $456,800 payday for fourth-round choice Jeff Hendrix, also via Mayo.
  • The Angels have agreed to an above-slot bonus for second-rounder Jahmai Jones, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. The precise bonus value remains unreported, but Jones was taken with the 70th pick in the draft, which had a $880K allocation. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs listed the high schooler as the 50th player on his board, crediting his advanced bat and solid power. The question is whether Jones can play an up-the-middle position defensively, but McDaniel says there is enough of a track record to suggest he can. Los Angeles has also agreed to a slot-value, $548,600 bonus for third-rounder Grayson Long, according to Mike DiGiovanna of MLB.com.
  • Pirates second-rounder Kevin Kramer will take home a $850K bonus, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com. The team will save $144,800 against the pool space afforded by the 62nd overall selection. Law had the highest rating on the UCLA shorstop among pundits, calling him the 71st-best prospect and praising his overall skillset (while noting long-term questions about Kramer’s ability to stick at short and general lack of impact tools).
  • The Nationals have reached agreement with high school outfielder Blake Perkins, who May says took home a $800K bonus, $93,100 under his slot value at 69th overall. Bryan Webb tweeted this morning that a deal was done. Only Law placed Perkins within his top-100 draft prospects, with Baseball America explaining that he has five-tool potential but has plenty of development ahead of him. Fourth-rounder Mariano Rivera Jr. has agreed to a slot-value ($410,700) bonus, also per Mayo. (You might remember his father, who had a lengthy MLB career for some good clubs.)
  • The Diamondbacks announced a host of signings, including third-rounder Taylor Clarke, fourth-round pick Breckin Williams, and fifth-rounder Ryan Burr. The 76th choice was valued at $801,900, while the 106th pick came with a $538,200 allotment, though bonuses remain unreported. Per BA, Clarke’s future may depend upon his ability to harness his change-up, as the collegiate senior has a useful fastball and well-commanded slider. bArizona will pay Burr the slot value of $403K, Mayo adds.
  • Likewise, the Mariners say they’ve formally signed a number of players to undisclosed bonuses, among them third-rounder Braden Bishop ($607,700 slot value) and fourth-round choice Dylan Thompson ($448K slot value). Bishop, a University of Washington outfielder, drew the 81st position on the MLB.com pre-draft list, which cited his big speed.
  • The Marlins went well above slot to nab eight-round choice Chris Paddack, with Callis reporting that he’ll get an even $400K. The 236th slot in the draft was worth just $173,100.
  • Athletics fourth-round pick Skye Bolt lands a $650K bonus, per Callis. That’s a nice bump up over the 128th choice’s $453,300 allotted value. MLB.com had the highest grade on the UNC outfielder, rating him 67th overall based upon Bolt’s four plus tools. The question is with the bat, which the switch-hitter has failed to show over the last two seasons.

Draft Signings: White, Maese, Miller, Erwin, Graham

It’s been a busy day on the draft signing front. Among the notable names locked up today, with slot values courtesy of Baseball America (all links to Twitter):

  • Shortstop Mikey White will receive a $900K bonus from the Athletics, per MLB.com’s Jim Callis. His second round selection spot (63rd overall) came with a $979,600 allocation, so the team will save some cash in the deal. White checked in at 34th on the board of Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, who cites his development at the plate and solid raw power for his position. Other talent evaluators had him further down the board, in the sixties, with some doubting whether he’ll stick at short.
  • The Marlins will pay third-rounder Isaiah White an at-slot $698,100 bonus, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports. Baseball America had White rated the 138th-best talent available, citing his outstanding speed as his best tool. Miami locked up fourth-rounder Cody Poteet with a slot-value $488.7K bonus, per Cotillo. And the Fish also added sixth-round catcher Justin Cohen for a $540K bonus, well above his $274K slot number at the 176th selection, per Callis. BA credited Cohen’s arm and receiving ability behind the plate, noting that he has some power potential with the bat.
  • The Blue Jays have reached a $300K deal with third-round choice Justin Maese, per Callis. That constitutes a somewhat rare below-slot deal for a high school arm, as the slot value was $636,400. While Maese has shown a big fastball and strong slider, Baseball America says he has been inconsistent. Toronto also agreed to a $450K bonus with fourth-round pick Carl Wise, Callis reports, falling just $11,200 of the slot value.
  • The Royals have added Western Kentucky outfielder Anderson Miller for a slot bonus of $581,300, says Callis. Baseball America rated Miller within the top 200 prospects available, citing his solid hitting ability, increased power, and potential to play center field as a professional.
  • White Sox fourth-rounder Zack Erwin will receive a slot bonus of $508K, Callis  reports. The Clemson lefty was the 117th name on BA’s list, calling him a good athlete with the potential to harness three above-average offerings. Chicago also agreed to terms with sixth-round pick Corey Zangari, a power righty, for $510K, Callis adds. He works in the upper nineties when he’s on, per BA, but is inconsistent. He also has some promise as a hitter, though he likely won’t be able to catch (as he has as an amateur) and would profile as a first baseman.
  • The Braves signed their fourth-round pick, Josh Graham of Oregon, for $500K, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports. That’s just a shade under $30K over the slot value. Recently converted from catcher to the mound, Graham has a nice low-to-mid-90s fastball, average slider, and “surprisingly decent change,” according to Baseball America.
  • 11th-round pick Brantley Bell has agreed to terms with the Reds for $400k, according to Mayo. Bell, a JuCo shortstop out of State College of Florida Manatee, did not place on any prospect lists.

Amateur Notes: July 2, Martinez, Sierra, D’Backs, Draft

With the draft in the books, the next July 2 period is just around the corner. Last year saw several teams blow past their spending allocations, incurring two-year bans on $300K+ signings to do so. As the Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees go on probation, the Cubs and Rangers are returning to the market. Ben Badler of Baseball America breaks down this year’s market, with the Cubs joined by the Dodgers and Royals as teams that seem quite likely to dole out enough excess bonus cash to incur the highest possible penalties. The Phillies and Blue Jays could follow those clubs, says Badler, though they may yet be able to add their top targets without taking on a signing ban. Badler discusses several clubs that could be buyers or sellers of international space, with the Twins profiling as a major acquirer or spending capacity and the D’backs looking to get some value back for the bonus availability that they cannot take advantage of.

You’ll want to give that piece a full read. Here are some other worthwhile amateur links:

  • Badler discusses the signing situations of BA’s top ten July 2 prospects (non-Cuban edition). He says the Mets are the favorites to land Venezuelan shortstop Andres Gimenez. Though New York probably won’t get Vladimir Guerror Jr., who has long been linked to the Blue Jays, they may instead get Vlad Sr. nephew Gregory Guerrero, another shortstop. Meanwhile, Badler says the Rangers appear set to sign Dominican outfielder Leodys Taveras but now seem likely to lose Bahamian shortstop Lucius Fox to the Dodgers.
  • Cuban outfielder Eddie Julio Martinez has drawn a range of reviews, with MLB.com pegging him as the top overall international prospect and Badler expressing considerably more doubt. You can have a look for yourself, at least at some batting practice cuts, with a video courtesy of BA.
  • Well-regarded Cuban right-hander Yaisel Sierra will be represented by Praver-Shapiro Sports Management, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. As Badler recently explained, Sierra will be exempt from international signing restrictions when he becomes eligible to sign, but his Serie Nacional track record has never quite matched his promising pure stuff.
  • The Diamondbacks‘ new regime exhibited a notable change in strategy in this year’s draft, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic notes (Twitter links). After going heavy on high schoolers at the top of last year’s draft, Arizona chose 15 collegiate players in its first 19 picks (including each of its first six selections) this time around. Individual draft dynamics always have an important bearing on a team’s final board, of course, but it is notable that the D’Backs ultimately chose just four high school players out of their forty total draft slots.
  • MLB.com’s Jim Callis lists the five teams that had the best drafts. Like other analysts, he places the AstrosRockies, and Dodgers at the top of that list. Callis also likes what the Rays and Rangers accomplished with their selections.

Royals Designate Erik Kratz For Assignment

The Royals announced today that they have reinstated catcher Erik Kratz from the 15-day disabled list and designated him for assignment (Twitter link). The decision means that Drew Butera will be Kansas City’s backup to Salvador Perez going forward.

The 34-year-old Kratz had previously served as Perez’s backup, although he scarcely saw action due to the excellent young backstop’s exceptionally high workload behind he dish. Kratz picked up just five plate appearances in four games with the Royals this year and has been on the disabled list since early May with inflammation in his left foot.

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.

Butera, 31, is considered by many to be an excellent defender in his own right, however, which is largely why he has amassed 771 big league plate appearances despite being one of the least productive hitters in the game. The longtime Twin is a career .182/.236/.265 hitter in parts of six seasons with the Twins, Dodgers, Angels and now Royals. Kansas City acquired Butera from the Angels on May 7 in exchange for infielder Ryan Jackson.