The Royals have designated right-hander Louis Coleman in order to clear a roster spot for fellow righty Ian Kennedy, whose five-year contract with Kansas City is now official, per MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (on Twitter).
Coleman, who will turn 30 on April 4, tossed just three innings for the Royals in 2015 but had been a regular member of the bullpen in the four seasons prior, pitching to a combined 3.25 ERA with 9.6 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 in 174 1/3 innings. However, Coleman’s production tailed off badly in 2014, when he recorded a 5.56 ERA in 34 big league innings. While he rebounded with an outstanding 2015 season in Triple-A (1.69 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 in 64 innings), the Royals possess one of the game’s deeper bullpens and have a number of options on the depth chart even with the removal of Coleman from the 40-man roster.
Coleman had been arbitration eligible this offseason and, in fact, already agreed to a one-year deal worth $725K. However, arbitration contracts are not fully guaranteed, so the Royals will be able to make this move while only being on the hook for roughly $119K of that sum — a little less than one sixth of the contract’s total — if they ultimately release Coleman. For the time being, however, the Royals will probably explore trade opportunities involving Coleman. This isn’t the first time that the Royals have designated a player after agreeing to an arbitration salary; two years ago, the team designated Emilio Bonifacio for assignment after having agreed to a considerably more significant $3.5MM salary. Bonifacio was ultimately released (and went on to sign a minor league deal with the Cubs), leaving Kansas City responsible for about $575K of his salary.