Kansas City Royals Rumors
Twins general manager Terry Ryan was released from the hospital today after undergoing surgery to treat cancer discovered in his neck, the team announced. He'll spend the next several days at home recuperating as the Twins get their 2014 Spring Training underway. Here's more out of the AL Central...
- Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star looks at the Royals' payroll in an effort to correct critics that mocked GM Dayton Moore calling the 2014 payroll a "gamble." Those critics pointed to the additional $25MM in revenue teams are receiving from national TV revenue, but Mellinger spoke with Forbes Sports senior editor Kurt Badenhausen who explained that the $25MM number is a myth. The Royals' increase (after MLB takes its share) is more like $5-10MM, he explaines. Mellinger writes that while owner David Glass and Moore have each had their failures, the success or failure of the past seven years will ultimately be determined by the 2014 Royals' on-field results.
- Indians left-hander Nick Hagadone and GM Chris Antonetti both are relieved to have the long-standing grievance between the two sides resolved, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Antonetti said he and the rest of management feel Hagadone can be a big part of the bullpen going forward, and Hagadone said he was happy with the grievance's outcome: "In the end, I thought it was very fair. I’m happy with the outcome. I’m happy I can just concentrate on baseball."
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian writes that the Indians and right-hander Josh Tomlin tried to settle their pending arbitration case but were unable to do so before today's hearing. Announcement of a result can be expected in the near future. Within that piece, Antonetti says he is still hopeful of avoiding a hearing with ace Justin Masterson.
- The Tigers are planning on getting Victor Martinez some occasional time behind the plate in 2014, writes MLive.com's Chris Iott. In reference to interleague games in National League parks, manager Brad Ausmus told Iott: "We can't not have Victor play for five straight games." Martinez says that he's excited to get back into some games at catcher. Additionally, Miguel Cabrera could still work some games at third base, with Martinez handling first base Iott writes. Both will work on those positions in Spring Training.
The Royals avoided going to arbitration with Greg Holland when the two sides agreed to a one-year, $4.675MM contract earlier today, and that deal could be a harbinger for a multiyear commitment. There is mutual interest between Holland and the Royals on a long-term deal, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports, though their most recent talks focused only on settling Holland's 2014 contract.
Holland has been one of baseball's top relief arms over the last three seasons, posting a 1.99 ERA and 268 strikeouts (against only 71 walks) in 194 innings out of the K.C. bullpen in 2011-13. Since taking over as the Royals' closer in August 2012, Holland has racked up 63 saves, 47 of which came last season as part of a sterling campaign that saw Holland make the All-Star team and finish ninth in AL Cy Young Award voting.
Holland, a client of Turner Gary Sports, is under team control through 2016. As McCullough notes, Holland will only get more expensive if he keeps up his form over his final two years of arbitration eligibility. A multiyear deal could help Kansas City keep Holland's salary in check, though there's a limit to what a mid-market team like the Royals can reasonably spend on a closer, even an elite one. There's no immediate rush to lock Holland up, but if an extension can't be worked out over the next season or two, K.C. could look to trade the righty and install one of their other top bullpen arms (such as Kelvin Herrera, Aaron Crow, Tim Collins or Luke Hochevar) as closer.
The Royals avoided arbitration earlier with Bonifacio earlier this month, agreeing to a one-year, $3.5MM contract. However, since that time, they've agreed to bring lefty Bruce Chen back into the mix in 2014 and chosen to designate Bonifacio for assignment to clear roster space. The Royals were unable to find a trading partner and placed Bonifacio on release waivers two days ago. Arbitration contracts are not fully guaranteed, and as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports pointed out yesterday, Kansas City is only on the hook for roughly $575K of that $3.5MM guarantee.
Any team is now free to sign Bonifacio at any price. The speedy 28-year-old struggled to a .218/.258/.321 batting line in his short time with the Blue Jays but quickly turned it around upon arriving in Kansas City last year. With the Royals, Bonifacio slashed a healthy .285/.352/.348 in 179 plate appearances. He showed off his best tool -- speed -- by swiping 28 bases in 36 tries between the two clubs last season. Though he's not a gifted defender at most positions, Bonifacio is versatile; he comes with big league experience at second base, shortstop, third base and all three outfield positions. As many as nine clubs, including the Orioles, are said to have interest in the switch-hitter.
The Royals announced (on Twitter) that they have avoided arbitration with All-Star closer Greg Holland. Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets that the Turner Gary Sports client settled on a $4.675MM contract that includes a $50K bonus for making his second All-Star team.
Holland's deal is $25K north of the $4.65MM midpoint between his $5.2MM asking figure and the club's $4.1MM offer. His 2014 salary comes in just shy of the $4.9MM payday projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
Holland, who turned 28 in November, enjoyed a breakout season with the Royals in 2013 -- his first full campaign as the team's closer. The North Carolina native turned in a stellar 1.21 ERA with 13.8 K/9, 2.4 and a 39.4 percent ground-ball rate en route to a club-record 47 saves and his first All-Star nod. His arbitration case was the final unsettled case for the Royals, meaning that GM Dayton Moore and his staff have successfully avoided a hearing in 2013 (as shown in MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker).
Former Brewers reliever Mitch Stetter announced on Twitter last night that he has retired from baseball and accepted a coaching job with the Royals. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets that Stetter will be the Double-A bullpen coach. Stetter, 33, hasn't appeared in the bigs since 2011 after his career was cut short by hip surgery and a back injury. From 2009-11 with the Brew Crew, Stetter posted a 3.46 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 5.7 BB/9 in 75 1/3 innings. While his command was clearly lacking, the southpaw held opposing lefties to just a .194/.310/.335 slash line in his career. Best of luck in your coaching career, Mitch.
Elsewhere in baseball's Central divisions...
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Royals will only be on the hook for about $575K of Emilio Bonifacio's salary if he clears release waivers tomorrow at 2pm ET and becomes a free agent. While a claim is unlikely, a number of teams are interested in Bonifacio, he adds in a second tweet.
- Cotillo tweets that as many as nine teams have interest in Bonifacio. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that the Orioles are one of those teams, pointing out that Bonifacio has long been a favorite of manager Buck Showalter. Besides that, the Orioles lack a clear starter at Bonifacio's best position -- second base. However, Kubatko also tweets that Baltimore isn't interested in him at his $3.5MM salary, so a waiver claim isn't likely.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan, who announced yesterday that he has cancer, is among the game's most respected general managers, writes Phil Rogers of MLB.com. Rogers recalls that Ryan displayed the ultimate selflessness a GM could show back in 2001 when, with the Twins facing contraction, Ryan turned down a chance to run the Blue Jays to stay with his club.
- Right-hander Rich Harden wants to pitch in 2014 but won't sign anywhere until he's further along in his throwing, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The Twins wouldn't rule out a return for Harden, even though the former ace never pitched for one of Minnesota's affiliates after signing a minor league deal with the club last offseason.
After defeating reliever Vinnie Pestano in an arbitration hearing recently, Cleveland still has three more players scheduled to face a panel. One of them -- outfielder Michael Brantley -- is reportedly close to a long-term deal. Pestano discussed his feelings upon going through the process, as MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports. The reliever said he was surprised mostly by the team's use of statements he'd made to the press against him. "You're being honest and accountable and saying the right things and being there," Pestano said, "and then later you find your own words in the paper, and somebody is trying to use your words against you to drive your value down. Whether that played a big role in the decision, I don't know." Though not necessarily expressing ill-will towards the team, Pestano did indicate that the hearing would have a future impact. "I definitely think it'll affect how I see things going forward," said Pestano. "I don't really know if I can be as honest and up-front anymore. I've got three more years of arbitration left. I don't know what they'll pick to use against me next year or two years from now."
Here's more from the Indians and an American League Central competitor:
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Indians haven't been in touch with Ubaldo Jimenez or his agents at Relativity Baseball in "weeks." Cleveland is, however, said to have inquired on fellow righty Ervin Santana, who (like Jimenez) will require the sacrifice of a draft choice if he is signed by a new club.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (via Twitter) that Indians hurler Justin Masterson is willing to discuss an extension in Spring Training and may even consider talking with the team during the season, if necessary. Last we checked in, extension talks had been shelved while the sides focused on avoiding an arbitration hearing that remains scheduled for February 20th.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore says that the club's payroll will land around $90MM for the coming season, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. That tab falls beyond the club's "break-even point," says Moore, and thus constitutes a "gamble."
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
FEB. 10: The Royals have requested unconditional release waivers on Bonifacio, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Any team can now claim Bonifacio if they are willing to take on the entirety of his $3.5MM salary. Those claims will be determined according to last year's league-wide standings and are not subject to the in-season rule that would give AL teams the first shot at him (2013 league-wide standings are also used for the first month of the regular season, as opposed to league-specific priority). Should he clear waivers, he will be a free agent and can then sign with a team of his choosing.
FEB. 1: The Royals have designated infielder Emilio Bonifacio for assignment, according to a team release. The move clears space on the Royals' roster for Bruce Chen. Bonifacio, who will be 29 in April, hit .243/.295/.331 in 461 plate appearances divided between the Royals and Blue Jays in 2013.
In mid-January, the Royals agreed to a one-year, $3.5MM deal with him to avoid arbitration, so it comes as a surprise that they would designate him for assignment two weeks later. Chen's $3MM salary essentially replaces Bonifacio's $3.5MM, and arbitration contracts are not guaranteed, so the decision to designate Bonifacio may have been a matter of making room for Chen in the Royals' budget. The Royals could well trade Bonifacio in the next ten days. Pedro Ciriaco could pick up playing time as a utility infielder in Bonifacio's place.
Here are today's minor moves and outright assignments from around the league...
- Catcher Omir Santos has signed a minor league deal (that contains an invite to Major League Spring Training) with the Pirates, the team announced via press release. The 32-year-old spent the 2013 campaign with the Indians organization, batting .248/.285/.354 with three homers in 222 plate appearances at Triple-A Columbus. Santos, who went hitless in one at-bat with the Indians' Major League club last year, is a career .248/.280/.363 hitter in 349 big league PAs.
- The White Sox announced that they've outrighted right-hander Deunte Heath to Triple-A in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Mitchell Boggs, whose deal is now official. Heath, 28, has yielded 11 runs in 9 2/3 big league innings but owns a career 3.70 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 233 1/3 Triple-A innings.
- The Royals announced that left-hander Everett Teaford has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Omaha. The 29-year-old southpaw was designated for assignment when the team acquired outfielder Carlos Peguero from the Mariners in late January. Teaford has a career 4.25 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 43.8 percent ground-ball rate in 106 big league innings to go along with a solid track record at the Triple-A level.
- With Teaford's outright, there are only two players that are currently in DFA limbo: Brett Wallace of the Astros and Emilio Bonifacio of the Royals.
Last night we heard the the Indians have begun to schedule their arbitration hearings, with right-hander Vinnie Pestano's set to come on Friday and Josh Tomlin's set to come on Feb. 14. The team can still work out a deal with either pitcher between now and those dates, but hearings are becoming more likely each day. More AL Central news...
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins are expected to be among the teams in attendance for Ryan Madson's showcase on Friday. The former Phillies closer hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2011 and has been connected to the Mets and the Phillies in recent weeks.
- Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe isn't dreading the arrival of top prospect Miguel Sano, even though the 20-year-old Sano could take Plouffe's everyday job at third base, writes Dave Campbell of the Associated Press. Rather, Plouffe has befriended the Dominican slugger and looks forward to his arrival in Minnesota, even if it pushes Plouffe into a utility role: "I want to help the team win. That's all I really care about. Miguel is a great player, and if he comes up and helps our team, we want him. ... If Sano's going to come up and help us, let's go."
- Although recently DFA'ed Royals infielder Emilio Bonifacio's $3.5MM salary is "probably an overpay," Mike Petriello of Fangraphs feels that he could be an improvement to nearly half the teams in the Majors. Bonifacio's baserunning has been the eighth most valuable in the game dating back to 2010 despite having 1,000 or so fewer PAs than most ahead of him on the list, and he's able to back up at third base and center field in addition to playing a solid second base, Petriello argues.
Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio spoke with multiple agents and executives over the weekend and got contradictory takes on the reasons for so many top free agents remaining unsigned (ESPN Insider required and recommended). Agents told Bowden that they (and the MLBPA) feel that the heightened media coverage resulting from social networking has damaged players' market values. Reports from media members about how teams value players and whether or not they've made offers to players could be violations of the CBA, those parties told Bowden. Meanwhile, executives said to Bowden that the market is simply full of players with baggage (draft pick compensation, PED usage, inconsistent performance) and added that agents entered the offseason with unnatural expectations for their clients.
Here are just some of the highlights from a jam-packed column from the former Nationals and Reds GM...
- Max Scherzer and Jon Lester are the two most likely candidates from next year's crop of free agent starting pitchers to sign an extension, Bowden writes. Despite the fact that Scherzer is a Scott Boras client (Boras prefers his clients to test the open market), Scherzer seems to want to remain loyal to the Tigers. However, Bowden notes that an extension would still need to be somewhere close to Scherzer's market value, which Bowden pegs at a whopping $196MM over seven years.
- The Red Sox have made a two-year offer to Stephen Drew, one source told Bowden. The value of that reported offer is unclear, as is the date on which it was made.
- The Nationals have discussed Jose Lobaton trades with the Rays as they look to add a backup catcher for Wilson Ramos. Lobaton figures to be expendable for the Rays, as they project to have a strong defensive tandem of Ryan Hanigan and Jose Molina behind the dish. Shedding Lobaton's $950K salary would seem to be more beneficial to the tight-budgeted Rays than most teams, particularly if they don't have a roster spot for him.
- The Dodgers are pushing for an infielder over another starting pitcher and hope to have a deal done within the next 48 hours. Los Angeles isn't likely to bid on any of the remaining free agent starters unless they're willing to take a short-term deal, as Dan Haren did to play near his hometown.
- Kendrys Morales is the most likely free agent to be this year's version of Kyle Lohse, writes Bowden. He notes that the Orioles -- who still have about $15MM to spend -- and Mariners remain interested in the switch-hitting Scott Boras client. Both are still in on Nelson Cruz as well. MLBTR readers seem to agree with the Morales/Lohse comparison; in the poll I conducted earlier this morning asking which Top 50 free agent would be the next to sign, he drew the fewest votes.
- The Royals and Indians are both highly unlikely to be able to lure back their respective free agent pitchers, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. The Blue Jays are a likely landing spot for both pitchers.