The Royals announced Wednesday evening that they’ve signed left-handed reliever Jake Diekman to a one-year contract with a mutual option for the 2020 season. Right-hander Jesse Hahn has been transferred to the 60-day injured list in a corresponding move. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports that Diekman, a client of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, will earn a $2.25MM base salary in 2019, and there’s a $500K buyout on next year’s option, making for a $2.75MM guarantee (Twitter link).
Diekman, 32, has long shown a penchant for missing bats at a lofty rate but also issuing far too many free passes. Dating back to the 2014 season, he’s averaged an impressive 11.2 strikeouts against an unsightly 4.9 walks per nine innings pitched. In that time, Diekman owns a 3.91 ERA in 246 1/3 innings of relief between the Phillies, Rangers and Diamondbacks. He’s handled both lefties (.255/.346/.346) and righties (.204/.320/.337) reasonably well outside of the obvious proclivity for issuing walks.
Last season, Diekman split the year between Texas and Arizona, working to a combined 4.73 ERA with 11.1 K/9, 5.2 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9 and a 47.8 percent ground-ball rate in 53 1/3 innings. That marked the lefty’s first full season back after missing most of the 2017 campaign due to a colectomy procedure that stemmed from ulcerative colitis.
Diekman is the second veteran arm the Royals have added in the past week, joining right-hander Brad Boxberger (a teammate last year in Arizona) as a newcomer to manager Ned Yost’s bullpen. He’ll give Kansas City a much-needed, experienced lefty; prior to this addition, Brian Flynn and Tim Hill were the team’s only southpaw relievers on the 40-man roster.
Diekman and Boxberger will be joined by holdovers Wily Peralta and Kevin McCarthy, at the very least, although the remainder of the relief corps’ composition will be determined in Spring Training. There’s even been talk of utilizing veteran starter Ian Kennedy in relief this season, which underscores the point that Spring Training will be of particular importance in assigning bullpen roles.
While Kansas City technically can control Diekman for the 2020 season, it seems quite likely that this’ll be a pure one-year arrangement. Mutual options are exercised by both parties with the utmost rarity, and the Royals utilize that specific option type regularly as an accounting measure — effectively deferring a portion of free agents’ salaries by a year in doing so.
Beyond that, there’s a good chance that if Diekman pitches well in his new environs, he’ll emerge as a trade chip this summer. Kansas City is fresh off a 58-104 season and has only made some marginal additions as the continue along in a rebuilding process. Diekman netted the Rangers a pair of minor league pitchers last summer and could once again be dangled to contending clubs this June or July if the signing goes according to plan.
The royals signing bounce back bullpen arms is an extremely smart move. Glad they’re doing this that bullpen looked awful before the BoxBerger/Diekman signing. These two might make it bearable and give them a couple potential flip candidates.
As long as you don’t mind occasional whining about mean fans…
All rebuilding teams should sign bullpen arms for this purpose.
And the injured list makes its debut
I like the move. He has really good stuff when he can control it. Maybe he has a nice first half of the season in that massive park and could be a trade chip at the deadline to get a prospect or two.
still a lot of free agents out there, like our bullpen now, more than i did a month ago forsure.
Jesse Hahn’s entire career has been downhill since this specific day
Didn’t realize he struggled so much with the Dbacks last year
“……which underscores the point that Spring Training will be of particular importance in assigning bullpen roles.”
Maybe for the first 4-6 weeks of the season.
“Winning” positions in ST has meant less every year for at least the last 10 years. The bullpen is the most volatile of any area on a team, especially one 20-25 % into a rebuild.
Lotsa players will have lotsa opportunities with the 2019 Royals. Competition continues to heat up. I look for the team to improve quite a bit. They finished strong in ’18, and the roster has gotten better entering 2019. They’re one of the few organizations in MLB that requires strong fundamentals from their players. They could well surprise in the weak and sloppy AL Central.
100% agreed & how dare you use real results from the end of the season as opposed to conjecture while making a point…
For the Royals sake I hope Diekman bounces back because he was awful with the Dbacks. Imoji was up and down.
The bar to be a KCR reliever right now is pretty low.
Pitch well, and you get to play meaningful September ball. With all the tanking, the players should take one year contracts and form super teams, like the nba. The players are losing control and there is going to be a strike at the next CBA.
Diekman also grew up about 3 hours from KC in Wymore, NE, and went to college in Concordia, KS (3.5 hrs from KC). He also played HS ball in southeast NE the same time as Alex Gordon. As close to a hometown team as a Nebraskan can get.
Two specific guys i thought would fit very well with the Jays. I think KC made 2 good moves here.
This guy’s stuff is better than what he’s producing. He should be more dominant with what he has.
Royals are a perfect example what rebuilding will be for most teams. Sure. they win a world series, but they’re back in the gutter 2 years later and going through the process again
They also let their entire team go for comp picks. Had they moved Moose, Hoz and Cain they’d be further along right now. A team with their budget isn’t going to perennially contend. They’ll always be the down/rebuilding years. It’s about asset management. Teams like the royals/rays have to spend at the right time and know when to dump their guys and start over. Well, the rays just need to spend more. They’re pretty good at maximizing value.