12:00pm: The Royals have now formally announced the signing.
11:39am: The Royals have signed right-hander Brad Peacock to a minor league contract, per their transactions log at MLB.com. The former Astros hurler was eligible to sign during the lockout because he wasn’t on a 40-man roster at season’s end, though he did briefly pitch with the Red Sox in 2021.
Now 34 years old, Peacock has spent the bulk of his career in Houston, appearing in parts of eight seasons as an Astro. He was a particularly versatile and vital member of the pitching staff from 2016-19, when he amassed 320 1/3 innings of 3.48 ERA ball and split his time between the rotation and bullpen — pitching quite well in both roles. Unfortunately for both Peacock and the Astros, shoulder and neck injuries derailed his 2019-20 seasons. Peacock ultimately underwent shoulder surgery in October 2020 after he’d been limited to just 2 1/3 innings that season.
Peacock signed on with Cleveland last offseason and was traded to Boston in late August (a post-deadline deal made possible by the fact that he’d been on a minor league contract and had not been on the 40-man roster at any point prior). He made two appearances as a replacement player following a Covid-19 outbreak on the Red Sox and was tagged for nine runs in 5 1/3 innings before being returned to Triple-A (and removed from the 40-man roster). Things didn’t go much better for Peacock in Triple-A, as he combined for an 8.00 ERA in 36 innings between his two stops.
There’s obviously a good bit of work to do for Peacock to reestablish himself, but it’s easy to see why a team would take a flier on an arm of his caliber. At his peak, in 2018, Peacock punched out a dominant 35.3% of his opponents against just a 7.4% walk rate. He’s absolutely overwhelmed right-handed opponents throughout his career, yielding an awful .199/.280/.338 batting line in those situations. Lefties have generally been a problem for Peacock (career .265/.349/.480), as has turning a lineup over for a third time. That said, if his shoulder and neck are healed up from his 2019-20 woes, he could prove a similarly successful minor league reclamation project to Trevor Rosenthal and Greg Holland from the 2020 Royals.
As things stand, there are already a few spots spoken for in the K.C. bullpen. Scott Barlow, Josh Staumont, Jake Brentz and Domingo Tapia all likely have spots locked down. Well-traveled righty Joel Payamps had a solid showing in 2021 and is also out of minor league options, which could give him the inside track on a fifth spot. Gabe Speier and Dylan Coleman were strong in small showings but will likely have to earn a spot in Spring Training (whatever form that takes). At the very least, there appears to be an opening for a veteran swingman — a role with which Peacock is quite familiar.