The Royals have reached an agreement with free-agent right-hander Neftali Feliz, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Feliz was designated for assignment and released by the Brewers over the past week.
The 29-year-old Feliz inked a one-year, $5.35MM deal with the Brewers this winter and got off to a red-hot start as Milwaukee’s closer. Through his first seven appearances, he allowed just a run on two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts while showing upper-90s velocity — looking every bit like the dominant arm that was once the American League Rookie of the Year.
However, Feliz cratered in epic fashion following that impressive start, pitching to a 7.17 ERA with 21 hits and 13 walks against 14 strikeouts over his final 21 1/3 innings in a Brewers uniform. Feliz served up seven home runs in those 21 1/3 frames and ultimately ceded the ninth inning to emergent bullpen buzzsaw Corey Knebel, who now looks like a potential long-term weapon in the Milwaukee ’pen.
While it’s not known if Feliz is headed directly into the Kansas City relief corps or will first make a stop in Triple-A Omaha, he figures to eventually join a group of relievers that is headed by Kelvin Herrera and Joakim Soria and has generally been far shakier than expected in 2017. Travis Wood, Peter Moylan and Chris Young each have ERAs north of 6.00, while both Matt Strahm and, more surprisingly, Herrera, are sitting at an even 4.50 mark.
From a broader perspective, the addition of Feliz at least somewhat signifies that the Royals aren’t quite ready to concede the 2017 season yet. While he won’t cost them anything — Kansas City need only pay Feliz the pro-rated portion of the league minimum, with the Brewers paying the remainder of his $5.35MM salary — bringing in another veteran piece rather than taking a look at younger arms suggests that the team’s recent improvements have at least staved off an early fire sale. The Royals are 13-6 in the month of June and have won nine of their past 11 contests to surge back to a 35-36 record. Even if they do ultimately sell off pieces, a revitalized Feliz could net them a younger piece if the Kansas City coaching staff is able to get the hard-throwing righty back on track.