The Royals have claimed right-hander Ben Lively off waivers from the Phillies, according to an announcement from both teams. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Royals have designated left-hander Eric Stout for assignment.
Lively, 26, will give the Royals yet another arm to evaluate as they stockpile potential rotation pieces for the 2019 season and beyond. The right-hander, originally acquired by the Phils in the 2014 trade that sent Marlon Byrd to the Reds, has a minor league option remaining beyond the current season, so the Royals will be able to shuttle him back and forth between Omaha and the Majors next year — in the event that Lively survives the offseason on Kansas City’s 40-man roster.
It’s been a tough season for Lively, who has missed time with a shoulder injury. He’s been hit hard to the tune of a 6.85 ERA in a tiny sample of 23 2/3 Major League innings this season, though his Triple-A work — 2.42 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0.52 HR/9, 42.3 percent ground-ball rate in 52 innings — has been decidedly more encouraging. Lively ranked in the bottom half of the Phillies’ top 30 prospects in 2016-17, per Baseball America, drawing praise as a potential fifth starter at the big league level with average to fringe-average stuff across the board.
Lively has a 2.97 ERA in 266 2/3 career innings of Triple-A work, making him a more or less MLB-ready asset on which the Royals are taking a chance. He also turned in a 4.26 ERA with less-encouraging peripheral marks through 88 2/3 innings with the Phils last season. The move to the American League probably won’t help Lively much, though he’s going from a homer-friendly home setting, Citizens Bank Park, to a fairly cavernous one in Kauffman Stadium.
Stout, 25, was beat up for seven runs (six earned) in just 2 1/3 innings with the Royals earlier this season. Though he posted solid bottom-line numbers at Triple-A in 2017, his pedestrian K/BB numbers, low ground-ball rate and good fortune on homers allowed contributed to an FIP (4.24) and xFIP (5.26) that were markedly higher than last season’s 2.99 ERA. Through 55 Triple-A frames in 2018, he has indeed regressed, working to a 4.75 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 0.82 HR/9 and a 37.8 percent grounder rate. Lefties have posted a .725 OPS against Stout between the Majors and Minors this season, though to his credit, he held same-handed opponents to a putrid .193/.264/.301 slash with a 22.5 percent strikeout rate against a 7.5 percent walk rate in Omaha a year ago.