Kansas City Royals Rumors
Here are today's minor moves from around the league...
- In addition to Rafael Ortega, who was recently claimed by the Rangers, the Rockies also put outfield prospect Tim Wheeler on waivers, tweets the Denver Post's Troy Renck. Wheeler, however cleared and has been outrighted to the minor leagues, says Renck. Wheeler entered the season as Colorado's No. 11 prospect, per Baseball America, but struggled to the tune of a .262/.330/.355 batting line as a 25-year-old at the Triple-A level. Prior to the season, BA noted the alarming drop in Wheeler's power, and he didn't correct it in 2013. Wheeler blasted 33 homers at Double-A in 2011 but has gone yard just seven times in 855 plate appearances at Triple-A since that time.
- The Royals have outrighted left-hander Noel Arguelles to Triple-A Omaha after the Cuban hurler cleared waivers, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link). That Arguelles, 23, cleared waivers is no surprise given the fact that he is guaranteed nearly $1.4MM in 2014 after signing a five-year, $7MM contract prior to the 2010 season. Shoulder surgery has derailed the once-promising lefty's prospect status, as he's pitched to a 6.14 ERA with more walks than strikeouts over his previous 196 1/3 innings in the minors.
The Mets surprised some observers when they gave outfielder Chris Young a one-year, $7.25MM contract to kick off their offseason. However, they weren't the only club with interest. Young says that the Cubs, Giants, Royals, and Red Sox all reached out to him, but the Mets were aggressive, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Here's a look at the latest out of the NL East..
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post makes the case for the Nationals to go after Robinson Cano. Some would argue that the Nats should go after a similarly high-impact player that will fill an actual hole for them, but Kilgore says that such a player may not come along for Washington in today's landscape.
- In today's inbox, a reader asks Joe Frisaro of MLB.com if there's a possibility that Dan Uggla could return to the Marlins this winter. Frisaro doesn't see the second baseman coming back to Miami since his cost and declining numbers over past two seasons raise red flags. Besides that, bringing him back would block Derek Dietrich and/or Donovan Solano from playing second.
- The Marlins announced two additions to their baseball operations staff. Mike Berger was named Vice President/Assistant GM while Jeff McAvoy will take over as the new Director of Pro Scouting.
3:12pm: The Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan tweets that the Cubs will send cash to the Royals for Kottaras, who will compete for the backup job in Spring Training.
Kottaras, 30, hit .180/.349/.370 in 126 plate appearances for the Royals in 2013. Kottaras has outstanding plate discipline and power for a catcher, as evidenced by his career 14 percent walk rate and .192 isolated power mark. He struck out in 33.3 percent of his plate appearances in 2013, however, and has whiffed at nearly a 23 percent clip throughout his career.
After making strong plays for free agents Jose Dariel Abreu, Brian McCann, and Carlos Ruiz, the Rockies are searching hard for impact bat and relief help. The Rockies have talked with the Angels about slugger Mark Trumbo and called the Royals about their surplus of relievers, according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.
Trumbo, of course, will be hard to pry away and has drawn interest from several clubs in need of a power bat. A deal with KC might be easier to swing, writes Renck, as Colorado's main trade piece, center fielder Dexter Fowler, could be a fit in Kansas City. Opposing execs have said for weeks that the Rockies are open to trading Fowler and they've already talked with Carlos Gonzalez about playing in center if necessary.
Royals relievers Aaron Crow and Tim Collins are reportedly "very available" via trade, and Wade Davis could be a trade candidate after the signing of free agent starter Jason Vargas. Both Crow and Collins are headed into the first year of arbitration eligibility and MLBTRs Matt Swartz projects them to earn $1.9MM and $1MM, respectively. Davis will make $4.8MM in 2014 and has three club options for 2015 through 2017. Renck adds that the Rockies attempted to acquire Davis from the Rays multiple times prior to his inclusion in last winter's James Shields-Wil Myers blockbuster.
Fowler was hampered by multiple hand injuries in 2013 and he started just three games in September because of a knee injury. Fowler, who will make $7.35MM this season, posted a .263/.369/.407 slash line in 2013.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Here are today's minor moves from around the league...
- The Royals have requested unconditional release waivers on second baseman Irving Falu, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. The 30-year-old switch-hitter has an impressive .337/.366/.427 batting line in an admittedly tiny sample size of 95 plate appearances. He's been solid but less spectacular at the Triple-A level, hitting .283/.342/.365. He received just four big league plate appearances in 2013.
- The Nationals announced that southpaw Tyler Robertson, who was designated for assignment last week, has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse. The soon-to-be 26-year-old began the 2013 campaign with the Twins but was claimed off waivers by the Nationals in June. Robertson posted a strong 3.04 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 47 1/3 Triple-A innings. He yielded a .296/.376/.407 batting line, however, and has yielded a .273/.415/.455 batting line to opposing right-handers in his brief time as a Major Leaguer.
- As can be seen in MLBTR's DFA Tracker, eight players are currently in DFA limbo.
The Royals boasted one of Major League Baseball's best bullpens in 2013, and they have no shortage of in-house replacements in the event of a trade. That surplus is one of the reasons that rival executives have told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that right-hander Aaron Crow and lefty Tim Collins "are very available" in trades. Said one official:
"Those are the guys they’d like to trade because they’re going to start to make a little bit of money. But the key thing for them is they have a lot of other guys ready to step in…guys who might be even better."
The Royals are also willing to at least entertain the thought of parting with prized closer Greg Holland, though according to Dutton they would need a "major" return for their ninth-inning man and aren't too keen on parting with him. One club official said to Dutton: "Are we actively looking to move Holland? No. But we’ve got to be open-minded to everything."
Both Crow and Collins are headed into the first year of arbitration eligibility. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected them to earn $1.9MM and $1MM, respectively. While neither salary is prohibitive (to say the least), the Royals currently project for an $87MM payroll, GM Dayton Moore has said he expects the 2014 payroll to mirror 2013's mark of $85MM. As Dutton points out, three years of either Crow or Collins would figure to fetch a nice haul on the trade market when pitchers like Joe Smith are signing for three years and $15.75MM.
Dutton writes that right-hander Wade Davis is expected to get a chance to work his way back into the rotation in Spring Training but may end up in the bullpen again. The bullpen seems to suit Davis much better, as he has a career 2.24 ERA as a reliever and 4.57 mark as a starter (5.67 in 2013). Given his $4.8MM guaranteed salary in 2014, I'd expect that Davis is a trade candidate as well, though the Royals may value his three cheap club options too highly to part with him.
It's a weak market for catchers now that the Yankees have taken Brian McCann off the board, an article by Bradley Woodrum of Fangraphs shows. While teams such as the Red Sox, Rockies and Rangers are still in the market for backstop help, the best remaining option, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, will bring a large platoon split to the lineup of whichever team signs him. Here's the latest from around the AL, as a busy evening on MLBTR draws to a close:
- The Royals have had no talks about Billy Butler with any team, a source tells Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
- In an article for the Detroit Free Press, John Lowe considers the impact of the Ian Kinsler deal on the Tigers' lineup. Much depends on whether the front office believes prospect Nick Castellanos is ready to hit in the big leagues, Lowe writes. If so, he could take the third base job, allowing Miguel Cabrera to slide back to first base.
- FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets that Kinsler's agent, Jay Franklin, says the Tigers are indicating they'll play Kinsler at second base. Given this and the team's other priorities, signing Robinson Cano is likely a long shot at this point, Rosenthal says (via Twitter).
- Mike Napoli says he "wouldn’t see why not" when asked about the possibility of returning to the Red Sox in 2014, Rob Bradford writes in an article for WEEI.com. A recent end-of-season MRI showed that the avascular necrosis in Napoli's hips isn't an issue at the time, according to the article.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com considers how the Yankees' signing of McCann could affect potential negotiations between the Orioles and Matt Wieters over an extension. The O's must try to figure out "to what extreme [Wieters agent Scott] Boras will attempt to trump the McCann deal," Kubatko says.
- The Orioles are among clubs with interest in Tomo Ohka, tweets NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman, citing a report from Sanspo. The 10-year big league veteran is trying to make it back to the majors as a knuckleballer.
- The Prince Fielder trade shows that the Rangers are getting creative in their offseason quest for bats, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes. Texas is hesitant to forfeit a first-round draft pick to sign a player such as Jacoby Ellsbury, as the team will already be limited on the international side of the amateur talent market after greatly exceeding their bonus pool this past summer.
- Shipping Peter Bourjos to the Cardinals sets the Angels up with an outfield of Mike Trout in center, Kole Calhoun in right and Josh Hamilton in left, Mike DiGiovanna says in an article on the trade for the Los Angeles Times. As DiGiovanna notes, the trade also reunites David Freese with Albert Pujols, his teammate in 2011 with the Cardinals.
- Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times wonders how the Angels will fit two starters into their offseason budget after acquiring Joe Smith, Freese and Fernando Salas (Twitter link).
We'll keep tabs on the day's minor moves here:
- The Royals announced a series of minor league signings, including for third baseman Brandon Laird, outfielder Paulo Orlando and right-hander Wilking Rodriguez. Laird, 26, is the younger brother of Gerald Laird and joins the Royals from the Astros, where he received major league playing time in 2013. Orlando, 28, is re-upping with the Royals after six seasons in the organization. The 23-year-old Rodriguez will transition to the Royals after seven seasons in the Rays' farm system. He has a career 3.90 ERA, mostly as a starter, but has never reached Double-A.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America has updates on a number of clubs' minor league signings. Among those with MLB experience (with links to Twitter): The Rockies will return Bobby Cassevah and Matt McBride, and have added righty Greg Burke. Headed to the Tigers is righty Jhan Marinez, while Gorkys Hernandez and Edinson Rincon will stick with the Royals organization. The Phillies have brought back shortstop Andres Blanco. And the Dodgers inked utility infielder Brendan Harris. Other clubs with new signings include the Orioles, Reds, Marlins, White Sox, and Athletics.
- The Cubs have signed outfielder Casper Wells, according to a tweet from Eddy. The team also added righties Paolo Espino and Carlos Pimentel, along with shortstop Jeudy Valdez. Wells got 102 plate appearances with three different clubs last year, posting a meager .126/.186/.147 line that is perhaps understandable given his constant movement and scant playing time. In 2012, over 316 plate appearances with the Mariners, Wells was good for a .228/.302/.396 slash.
- In addition to bringing back righty Benino Pruneda and catcher Jose Yepez on minor league deals, the Braves have added former Phillies backstop Steven Lerud, tweets Eddy. Lerud appeared in nine games for the Phils between 2012-13. At Triple-A last year, he had an interesting .217/.353/.311 line over 219 plate appearances, as he drew nearly as many walks (35) as he had hits (39).
- Cutting ties with a major international acquisition, the Nationals have released righty Yunesky Maya, Eddy tweets. Washington saw little return on its $6MM investment in Maya, who had been outrighted off of the club's major league roster early in the 2013 season. After struggling in two brief call-ups in 2011-12, Maya's last stint with the Nats was even more regrettable. In his only MLB appearance of the 2013 season, Maya retired one batter in the bottom of the tenth before surrendering a walk-off home run to Pablo Sandoval.
- The Cubs have released outfielder Dave Sappelt, tweets Eddy. As Eddy notes, Sappelt was one of the pieces -- along with lefty Travis Wood and second baseman Ronald Torreyes -- picked up by Chicago in the deal that sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati. The 26-year-old Sappelt has a .251/.301/.343 slash line in 274 plate appearances spread over the 2011-13 seasons. He has spent most of his time in Triple-A over that time frame, and posted a sub-.700 OPS in each of his two years at Iowa.
In a lengthy and thorough breakdown of the Jason Vargas signing for the Royals, Rany on the Royals argues that the deal misses the point: as he puts it, Kansas City should have been pursuing upside, not roughly average innings. Noting that Bruce Chen could have filled the same role for a shorter term and less dollars, Rany says that GM Dayton Moore would have been best served outbidding the Giants for Tim Hudson or even taking a chance on someone like Phil Hughes. Here's more from KC and its counterparts in the American League Central:
- Late last night, we noted some potential landing spots for free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran in the AL Central, including Kansas City, Cleveland, and Detroit. As noted in that piece, the Royals appear already to be pressing up on their target payroll for 2014, according to a report from Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- Clearing the salary of Prince Fielder, and thus opening more space for a big extension of Max Scherzer, does not necessarily resolve the Tigers' starting pitching questions, writes MLB.com's Jason Beck. Scherzer is set to hit the open market next year, but right on his heels are fellow rotation men Rick Porcello and Doug Fister, who will qualify for free agency before the 2016 season. And the cash infusion does not make it easy to just throw money at all of them -- or even just Scherzer -- to keep them from hitting the open market.
- Beck is correct to note that near-term savings may be gobbled up by arbitration raises, that the club will not spend a huge amount less on an annual basis before 2018, and that the $30MM going with Fielder to Texas will limit the benefit. All that being said, though, I think he may be underselling somewhat the impact on the Tigers' future commitments. As reflected in my breakdown of the broader impact of the trade, the real impact was on Detroit's distant payroll. The club cleared an enormous amount of future obligations from its long-term ledger: $13MM in 2018 and $18MM in both 2019 and 2020. In essence, instead of being on the hook for Fielder and Justin Verlander over that period, the club now has just one super long-term deal on the books. Even better, it no longer has to worry about spending that money on an aging player who is no longer worth his annual salary. While it is hardly a guarantee that Scherzer will be inked to a massive extension, there is no question that the departure of Fielder clears a major obstacle to that possibility. Of course, as Beck notes, that still does not address the fact that Porcello and Fister will also need to be addressed.
- While some seemingly unsubstantiated rumors hit the waves yesterday about Robinson Cano meeting with the Tigers, Dombrowski told Chris Iott of MLive.com that the club plans on using Ian Kinsler as its second baseman in 2014. From my perspective, while anything is possible with a player of Cano's caliber, it would seem that the Tigers have more to gain by upgrading an area that is not currently occupied by a player that has put up 29.1 fWAR over the 2006-13 period. Kinsler -- who is just four months older than Cano -- put up only seven wins less than did Cano during that same time frame.
- A former White Sox scout has received an eight month prison sentence for his role in a Latin American player signing kickback scandal, reports the Associated Press (via ESPNChicago.com). Victor Mateo becomes the second implicated club official to get jail time, joining David Wilder in the pen.
As I just noted, today's acquisition of Peter Bourjos may make the Cardinals an even greater longshot to bring back star right fielder Carlos Beltran. Here are the latest rumblings on one of the game's all-time great post-season performers, who will turn 37 early next season:
- Officials from two teams say that Beltran's representatives at MVP Sports Group have not asked for four years in early talks with prospective new employers, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. In his profile of Beltran, MLBTR's Steve Adams pegged his value at $30MM on a two-year deal.
- Many clubs are interested in Beltran, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and the Royals could be a realistic landing spot. Beltran made his name in Kansas City, and Heyman suggests that the club could have added motivation given Beltran's history with the club. Indeed, he even raises the point that a Hall of Fame push at career's end could land Beltran in Cooperstown donning a KC cap. Having given four years to Jason Vargas, Heyman wonders whether the club would be willing to go past two seasons for its old star.
- One major obstacle to that possibility could be payroll, as the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton questions whether GM Dayton Moore has already burned through the club's 2014 payroll allocation after promising Vargas $32MM. As Dutton explains, the decision to designate catcher George Kottaras for assignment could be an indication that money is tight. Kottaras seemed to be the club's best backup option, says Dutton. When he asked why he was chosen to be set loose, a "top club official responded by rubbing his thumb over the tips of his first two fingers," indicating that money was the issue. Kottaras is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn a modest $1.2MM in his second go at arbitration, and Dutton notes that Moore has pegged current payroll projections at $87MM despite previously saying that the club would not go much past its 2013 tab of $85MM.
- While Dutton tweets that the Royals are indeed interested in Beltran, he says that the slugger would need to spend some time at designated hitter for it to make sense. That, presumably in combination with his likely-sizeable salary, would mean that current DH Billy Butler would probably be put on the market in such a scenario.
- Turning back to Heyman's report, he does not include St. Louis among the likely suitors at present. The Mariners and Rangers are in the mix, says Heyman, and the Indians may be as well. Meanwhile, the Yankees and Red Sox definitely have interest but seem unwilling to go past two years.
- Yet another team that could make sense as a landing spot for Beltran is the Tigers, who Jamie Samuelsen of the Detroit Free Press says is the best target for a Detroit outfield upgrade. Certainly, a play by GM Dave Dombrowski for Beltran's services would be a boon to the outfielder's free agent prospects.