The Royals announced Wednesday that they’ve signed veteran right-hander Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. The Moye Sports client will vie for a bullpen spot in Kansas City.
Boyer, 36, had walked away from baseball for nearly three full seasons before making a 2014 comeback with the Padres and reestablishing himself as a solid big league arm. Since returning to the bigs, he’s pitched for the Padres, Twins, Brewers and Red Sox on a series of minor league deals — making the roster in each instance and ultimately performing well at each stop along the way. Over the past four seasons, he’s pitched to a combined 3.51 ERA with 5.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9 and a 44.7 percent ground-ball rate.
Despite the quality bottom-line results, Boyer has attracted minor league offers only in each season since his return. The lack of strikeouts may contribute to that relatively tepid level of interest, though it’s also worth noting that Boyer has compensated for the lack of whiffs by limiting hard contact against him. Only 28 of the 299 pitchers that have logged 200+ innings since 2014 have turned in a lower hard-contact rate than Boyer’s 26.2 percent, per Fangraphs.
With the Royals, Boyer will compete for a spot in a new-look relief corps. Right-hander Joakim Soria and left-handers Scott Alexander and Ryan Buchter have already been traded away by the Royals this winter, and it stands to reason that GM Dayton Moore and his staff will continue entertaining offers on higher-priced members of the bullpen such as Kelvin Herrera and Brandon Maurer.