As the Royals sort out the new arms they have on hand, the team intends to utilize lefty Matt Strahm as a reliever in 2017, skipper Ned Yost told reporters, including Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. The same holds true of fellow southpaw Mike Minor. Strahm, 25, is one of the most highly regarded young arms in the Royals organization and was dominant out of the ’pen in his 2016 debut. In 22 innings, he posted a sensational 1.23 ERA with a 30-to-11 K/BB ratio (one intentional walk) and a 46.7 percent ground-ball rate while averaging 93.8 mph on his heater. Yost made clear that the Royals still view Strahm as a starter in the long run, but it looks as if he’ll reprise his late-inning role in 2017.
Minor, meanwhile, was once a key member of the Braves pitching staff but has missed the past two seasons due to shoulder troubles. He wasn’t able to take the hill for Kansas City in the first season of his two-year, $7.25MM pact with the Royals — though he did throw 34 2/3 innings in Triple-A — and will hope to return to health in 2017 as he looks to reestablish himself in the Majors.
A bit more from the division…
- The Twins are still talking to free agents, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told reporters (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger), but if they make an addition, it’s likelier to be on the pitching side of the equation. Bollinger notes that it’d be “a surprise” to see the team add a bat at this juncture. In a similar vein, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins attended Justin Masterson’s workout earlier today. Masterson has an obvious tie to Minnesota, as he once starred in the Indians’ rotation while Falvey was working in the Cleveland front office. Injuries have derailed the past three seasons for Masterson, who spent the 2016 campaign with the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate (4.97 ERA, 32 strikeouts, 26 walks in 54 1/3 innings).
- Bollinger also writes that longtime Twins closer Glen Perkins threw his first bullpen session since undergoing shoulder surgery last season. The left-hander hadn’t thrown off a mound since exiting his April 10 appearance in 2016, and he gave some Twins fans a bit of a scare when last Friday’s throwing session was pushed back. However, after working with the Twins’ training staff over the weekend, Perkins felt strong enough to throw a 15-pitch session earlier today and reported no issues after the fact. Perkins will be aiming to show display his health this spring in order to reclaim his spot in the ninth inning for Minnesota, though he’ll face some competition from righty Brandon Kintzler. The 32-year-old Kintzler filled in with aplomb following Perkins’ injury in 2016, logging a 3.15 ERA and picking up 19 saves in 54 1/3 innings.
- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters today that the Sox are open to trades but aren’t likely to make another addition to the roster, barring injuries (Twitter links via Colleen Kane of the Chicago Trib and Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago). Hahn said he’s had “extensive conversations on various fronts,” but at this point, “there’s nothing that’s gnawing at us or appealing enough to make us move.” The Sox will keep an open mind throughout the spring, though Hahn also noted some of the team’s focus will inevitably shift to prepping for the season as opposed to making deals. Hahn recently spoke with MLBTR contributor Brett Ballantini about his offseason rebuilding efforts in a two-part Q&A (Part 1, Part 2).