Right-hander Seth Maness is on his way to St. Petersburg to join the Royals prior to tonight’s game against the Rays, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link). The Royals have a full 40-man roster, so in order to formally select Maness’ contract, they’ll need to either designate someone for assignment or move a player from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL.
The promotion of Maness, 28, comes with a fair bit of intrigue. The longtime Cardinals reliever tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow last summer, but rather than electing the typical Tommy John surgery as treatment, Maness instead underwent a newer “primary repair” surgery that comes with a shorter recovery. (Goold chronicled the details of that operation earlier this year in a must-read column for those who aren’t familiar with the surgery.) Maness will now return to the Majors less than nine months after going under the knife, and he’s already tossed six innings in Triple-A as well.
A healthy Maness would be a boon to a Royals bullpen that ranks 23rd in baseball with a 4.60 ERA (though their 4.00 FIP, 3.91 xFIP and 3.77 SIERA all suggest the current unit could turn things around). From 2013-15, Maness averaged 72 appearances per season for the Cardinals, serving as one of their most durable and most dependable bullpen arms. To this point in his career, he’s compiled 237 1/3 innings with a strong 3.19 ERA. Maness doesn’t miss many bats (5.8 K/9), but he offsets that lack of whiffs with pristine control (1.7 BB/9) and an excellent 59.4 percent ground-ball rate.
If Maness is indeed healthy from this point forth, it’s easy to envision other pitchers that suffer partial UCL tears during the season electing the primary repair surgery as a means of treatment, assuming they meet the requirements for the procedure. (As Goold explains in the aforementioned story, the surgery is only an option for those with partial tears and is dependent on both the location and severity of the tear.) And beyond that, the Royals could reap the benefits for several years. Maness is returning to the Majors with three years and 154 days of Major League service time, meaning the Royals can control him via arbitration through the 2019 season.