The Royals announced that they have agreed to terms on minor league deals with infielder Mike Brosseau, left-hander Sam Long and right-handers Tyler Duffey and Dan Altavilla. Reporting on Altavilla’s deal came out yesterday but the other three are new developments.
Brosseau, 30 in March, started the 2023 campaign with the Brewers but hit just .205/.256/.397 in 29 games and was outrighted in July. He then signed with the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball but hit just .191/.218/.287 for that club.
It obviously wasn’t an amazing year for Brosseau, but he has some decent showings in his past. He got into 88 games with the Rays over 2019 and 2020, hitting .284/.343/.500 over that time for a wRC+ of 130. He then slumped badly in 2021 before getting flipped to Milwaukee, which led to a bounceback season. He hit .255/.344/.418 in 70 games for the Brewers for a wRC+ of 118.
If he could back to anything close to that, he could be a decent utility player for the Royals. He’s played all four infield positions in his career and has even had short stint in the outfield corners. The club is set at shortstop and first base with Bobby Witt Jr. and Vinnie Pasquantino but the other infield spots are less secure. Maikel Garcia and Michael Massey are the favorites for third and second base, respectively, but each of them had subpar offensive seasons in 2023.
The Royals recently signed Garrett Hampson to a major league deal, adding some depth all around the roster, but Brosseau should do the same in a non-roster capacity. If Brosseau gets selected at any point, he still has an option remaining, which would allow the Royals to send him back to the minors without exposing him to waivers.
Long, 28, has logged 128 innings over the past three seasons, pitching for the Giants and Athletics. He has a 4.92 earned run average in that time, along with an 18.5% strikeout rate, 9% walk rate and 40.5% ground ball rate. The Royals only have two lefty relievers on the roster right now in Jake Brentz and Josh Taylor, both of whom dealt with significant injury issues in 2023. If Long can earn his way onto the roster, he’s out of options but can be retained for future seasons since he has under two years of service time.
Duffey, 33 this month, spent 2023 in the Cubs’ system after signing a minor league deal. At the Triple-A level, he threw 45 1/3 innings with 3.77 ERA, 29.1% strikeout rate and 12.6% walk rate. He was selected to the club’s roster on the last day of the season and tossed two innings in the final game on the schedule.
He had a really strong run for the Twins over 2019 and 2020, posting a 2.31 ERA over 81 2/3 innings in those two campaigns, striking out 34.2% of opponents while issuing walks at just 6.1% rate. But his ERA jumped to 3.18 in 2021 and 4.91 in 2022. The Royals’ bullpen has plenty of uncertainty after trading away Aroldis Chapman and Scott Barlow last year, perhaps leaving space for someone like Duffey to take advantage.