Kansas City Royals Rumors

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

Justin Maxwell Outrighted To Triple-A

Here are today’s outright assignments from around the league…

  • Outfielder Justin Maxwell cleared waivers after being designated for assignment, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). Maxwell has until tomorrow to decide whether to accept his outright assignment or elect free agency. The 30-year-old hit just .150/.222/.175 in 45 PA for the Royals, but he hit .239/.314/.450 from 2012-13 with the Astros and Royals.

Royals Sign Joe Saunders

The Royals announced that they have signed left-hander Joe Saunders to a minor league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Omaha.

The 33-year-old Saunders made eight starts for the Rangers this season, pitching to a 6.13 ERA with 22 strikeouts against 20 walks in 39 2/3 innings of work. He was a consistent, if unspectacular, innings-eater from 2007-12 with the Angels, Diamondbacks and Orioles, but Saunders has struggled greatly in his past two Major League stints. From 2013-14, he owns a 5.42 ERA in 222 2/3 innings between the Mariners and Angels.

Minor Moves: Alex Sogard, Pedro Ciriaco

Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball.

  • The Astros have traded pitcher Alex Sogard to the Diamondbacks, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. The Astros will receive minor-league infielder Cesar Carrasco in return. Sogard, 26, has pitched 43 1/3 innings for Double-A Corpus Christi this season, with 5.2 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9.
  • Utilityman Pedro Ciriaco has accepted his outright assignment from the Royals, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. The Royals designated Ciriaco for assignment last week. He has a career .270/.299/.372 line in 498 plate appearances over five seasons with the Pirates, Red Sox, Padres and Royals.

Royals To Sign Scott Downs

The Royals have signed left-hander Scott Downs, according to Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star (via Twitter).  The White Sox released Downs late last week after previously designating him for assignment.

Over 23 2/3 innings for the White Sox, Downs recorded a 6.08 ERA with a better-than-usual 8.4 K/9 clip with an alarmingly high 5.7 BB/9 mark. Still, ERA estimators are kinder to Downs, as he owns a 3.69 FIP, 4.07 xFIP, and 3.96 SIERA.  Downs has held opposing left-handed hitters to a .225/.309/.367 mark; his real issue has been with righties, who own a .296/.415/.364 triple-slash against him.

Downs is represented by CAA Sports, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.

Minor Moves: Clark, Ayala, Robinson, Sanchez, Janish

Here are today’s minor league transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Brewers have signed first baseman Matt Clark to a minor league deal, the club’s player development department announced on Twitter. Clark had been hitting .297/.380/.498 at Double-A for the Mets before he was released recently. He will take the roster spot of Hunter Morris, the club’s tenth overall prospect coming into the year (per Baseball America), who was DL’ed after breaking his arm.
  • Veteran righty Luis Ayala has been released by the Blue Jays, according to the International League transactions page. The reliever had been working at Triple-A. As MLBTR’s Zach Links reported at the time of the signing, Ayala did not have the right to opt out of his deal. Though he worked to a 2.90 ERA with 5.8 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 over 31 innings last year for the Braves, Ayala has not had an opportunity to throw in the bigs yet this season. Through 17 innings at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, he owns a 5.29 ERA (7.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9)
  • The Braves officially acquired minor league right-hander Andrew Robinson from the Astros in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later, as per a Houston media release.  Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reported yesterday that the trade was imminent.
  • The Cubs released left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports (Twitter link).  The Cubs signed Sanchez to a minor league deal in December but the southpaw has been injured for most of the season and only pitched 2/3 of an inning for Triple-A Iowa.  After being traded from the Giants following the 2011 season, Sanchez’s numbers ballooned to the tune of an 8.73 ERA over 78 1/3 IP with the Royals, Rockies and Pirates in 2012-13.
  • The Royals have signed infielder Paul Janish to a minor league deal, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link).  Janish opted out of his previous minors deal with the Rockies on Tuesday.  Janish provided some good defense but only a .572 OPS in 1206 PA with the Reds and Braves from 2008-13, and he spent all of his season with Triple-A Colorado Springs.
  • The Blue Jays have released outfielder Brett Carroll, as announced via Twitter by the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.  Carroll posted only a .438 OPS in 63 Triple-A plate appearances after signing a minor league contract with the Jays in February.  Carroll appeared in 173 games with the Marlins from 2007-10 and had cups of coffee with the Brewers and Nationals in 2011-12 before spending 2013 with the Pirates’ Triple-A franchise.

Royals Sign Ricky Aracena

Here are the day’s most notable international prospect signings from the (rankings via MLB.com and Baseball America):

  • The Royals have signed Dominican shortstop Ricky Aracena, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). Aracena, who ranked 24th on Sanchez’s Top 30 list and 17th per Baseball America’s Ben Badler, will receive a bonus of $850K, Sanchez says. Sanchez notes that Aracena is a switch-hitter with equal bat speed and home run power from each side of the plate, and he has the tools to stick at shortstop. Sanchez likens him to Rafael Furcal in terms of body type, while Badler (subscription required) compares him to a larger version of Jose Altuve. Scouts “marvel” at how polished and instinctive Aracena is at such a young age, according to Badler.

Quick Hits: Phillies, Ruiz, Hamels, Royals, Padres, Price

Here are the latest trade deadline news and rumors from around the game …

  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that the club’s next ten games will help decide how the club navigates the trade deadline, per an interview transcript from Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News“We’ve been assessing this thing and will continue to do so all the way through this month,” he said. Amaro said that he has had “tons” of conversations, mostly to feel out needs, and that his focus is on improving the club’s production at the plate. “On our side, we’re looking for some offense, we’re looking for some younger players, we’re looking for some things that can help us short term and long term,” said Amaro. “As far as the other teams are concerned, some of them know exactly what they want, but most of them don’t. I mean, there’s still a lot of time. A lot of injuries can happen, there’s a lot of different things that can happen with some of these teams moving forward.” In terms of the club’s timeline, Amaro reiterated that he is not interested in a complete tear-down, but said that, “if we have to go a step backward for a year or two to move forward then that’s what we’ll try to do.”
  • One theoretically possible Phillies trade chip — catcher Carlos Ruiz — has suffered a concussion that Amaro calls “a little more serious than we originally thought,” as Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Since signing a three-year, $26MM deal in the offseason, the 35-year-old has produced a .257/.33/.357 triple-slash through 273 plate appearances.
  • It remains to be seen whether or not Phillies starter Cole Hamels is shopped at all. But if he is, the Blue Jays would only be able to acquire him if he waived his no-trade protection, as they are one of the teams on his list, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
  • Rival officials are skeptical that the Royals have freedom to add payroll, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. GM Dayton Moore has indicated that the club would be able to take on salary to bolster the roster for a postseason push.
  • The Padres have fielded trade interest in outfielders Seth Smith and Chris Denorfia, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Nevertheless, the club’s most asked-about pieces to date have been back-end relievers Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit.
  • Heyman also reports that the Rays have set a high asking price for David Price in discussions with the Dodgers, with Tampa seeking multiple elite prospects. Heyman argues that giving up more than one of the club’s five best youngsters — he includes Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Julio Urias, Chris Anderson, and Zach Lee — would be a mistake for Los Angeles.

Marlins Acquire Donnie Joseph

The Royals announced that they have traded Donnie Joseph to the Marlins for cash considerations.  Joseph was designated for assignment on June 24th.

Joseph has made seven appearances for KC over the last two years, amounting to a grand total of 6 innings and change.  His lone 2014 outing took place earlier this month and he allowed six runs to the Tigers in the ninth inning which cost them the win.  Looking past that small sample size, Joseph has done better at the Triple-A level.  In parts of three seasons at Triple-A Omaha, Joseph owns a 3.76 ERA with 11.7 K/9 and 6.2 BB/9.

To make room on the roster for Joseph, Miami designated Brent Keys for assignment.  Keys, a 23-year-old outfielder, has slashed .238/.371/.265 in 40 Double-A games this year.

Royals Designate Pedro Ciriaco, Justin Maxwell For Assignment

The Royals have designated infielder Pedro Ciriaco and outfielder Justin Maxwell for assignment, the team announced.  This is the second time that each player has been designated for assignment this season.

Ciriaco has seen limited action this season, posting a .484 OPS in 49 PA as the Royals’ utility infielder, and he has a more impressive .295/.318/.475 line at Triple-A (albeit in only 66 PA).  Ciriaco originally came to K.C. in July 2013 when the Royals claimed him off waivers from the Padres.

Maxwell came to the Royals in a trade deadline deal with the Astros last July and hit very well in the last two months of 2013, posting an .857 OPS in 111 PA.  The 30-year-old outfielder avoided arbitration with Kansas City by agreeing to a one-year, $1.325MM contract after avoiding arbitration last winter, yet he has struggled badly this year, with just a .397 OPS and one extra-base hit over 45 PA.  Maxwell has dominated Triple-A pitching, however, to the tune of an .899 OPS in 106 PA.

Ciriaco and Maxwell join southpaw Donnie Joseph as Royals players currently in “DFA limbo,” according to the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker.  Five more players around the league are also in limbo — Michael Almanzar (Orioles), Chris Capuano (Red Sox), Greg Dobbs (Nationals), Scott Downs (White Sox) and Sean O’Sullivan (Phillies).

Royals Sign Raul Ibanez

The Royals have signed Raul Ibanez to a Major League contract, the team announced.  The 42-year-old was released by the Angels last week after signing a one-year, $2.75MM deal with the Halos in the offseason.  Ibanez is represented by ACES.

Ibanez didn’t produce much in Anaheim, hitting only .157/.258/.265 with three homers over 190 PA this season.  He projects as a bench bat and occasional designated hitter for the Royals, likely spelling regular DH Billy Butler every once in a while against a right-handed starter.  Ibanez, while a below-average defensive outfielder, could also see a bit of time in the outfield since the Royals just designated Justin Maxwell for assignment.

While it’s unclear if Ibanez has anything left at the plate, it’s a fairly low-risk signing for the Royals considering Ibanez’s track record, clubhouse presence and the fact that he’s signing for a minimum salary.  This is Ibanez’s second stint with Kansas City, as he originally played for the Royals from 2001-03.