- Veteran right-hander Chris Young tells MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that he intends to continue his career after being released by the Royals. “Physically, I feel good,” Young said. “My arm feels good. I don’t foresee this being the end. I’m still capable of competing at a high level. Possibly a change of scenery might help.” Young, who turned 38 last month, has suffered through a pair of rough seasons in 2016-17, posting a 6.52 ERA over 118 2/3 IP. Young also praised the K.C. fans and the Royals organization, noting that GM Dayton Moore told him the news of his release in person.
- Likewise, the Royals announced that release waivers have been requested on veteran right-hander Chris Young, who was just designated. It’s not clear whether the 38-year-old will continue pitching after losing his job with Kansas City. He overcame significant arm injuries to make it back to the majors, and had a few good years upon his return, but has struggled mightily over the past two campaigns.
Young, 38, is in the second year of the free-agent deal he signed to return to Kansas City before the 2016 campaign. He’s promised a total of $11.5MM under that contract, which included an option for 2018 that obviously won’t be picked up.
The results have been rather ugly since the sides put pen to paper. Though Young was surprisingly effective in his 2015 run with K.C., he has scuffled to a 6.52 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 over his 118 2/3 innings over the past two seasons.
- The Red Sox should be able to add about $9MM to their payroll this summer without crossing the luxury tax barrier, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. While around $2MM of that sum could be set aside for the salary that’ll need to be paid for internal promotions, Boston should have the remaining funds to address one, if not two needs, provided they don’t break the bank for a starting pitcher. Speier again lists Todd Frazier as a possibility, and Heyman linked the Red Sox to the Royals’ Mike Moustakas in his aforementioned column. Feinsand notes that Boston is indeed “in the market” for third base help as well, with Pablo Sandoval back on the DL and not playing well even when on the field.
The Royals have reached an agreement with free-agent right-hander Neftali Feliz, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Feliz was designated for assignment and released by the Brewers over the past week.
The 29-year-old Feliz inked a one-year, $5.35MM deal with the Brewers this winter and got off to a red-hot start as Milwaukee’s closer. Through his first seven appearances, he allowed just a run on two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts while showing upper-90s velocity — looking every bit like the dominant arm that was once the American League Rookie of the Year.
However, Feliz cratered in epic fashion following that impressive start, pitching to a 7.17 ERA with 21 hits and 13 walks against 14 strikeouts over his final 21 1/3 innings in a Brewers uniform. Feliz served up seven home runs in those 21 1/3 frames and ultimately ceded the ninth inning to emergent bullpen buzzsaw Corey Knebel, who now looks like a potential long-term weapon in the Milwaukee ’pen.
While it’s not known if Feliz is headed directly into the Kansas City relief corps or will first make a stop in Triple-A Omaha, he figures to eventually join a group of relievers that is headed by Kelvin Herrera and Joakim Soria and has generally been far shakier than expected in 2017. Travis Wood, Peter Moylan and Chris Young each have ERAs north of 6.00, while both Matt Strahm and, more surprisingly, Herrera, are sitting at an even 4.50 mark.
From a broader perspective, the addition of Feliz at least somewhat signifies that the Royals aren’t quite ready to concede the 2017 season yet. While he won’t cost them anything — Kansas City need only pay Feliz the pro-rated portion of the league minimum, with the Brewers paying the remainder of his $5.35MM salary — bringing in another veteran piece rather than taking a look at younger arms suggests that the team’s recent improvements have at least staved off an early fire sale. The Royals are 13-6 in the month of June and have won nine of their past 11 contests to surge back to a 35-36 record. Even if they do ultimately sell off pieces, a revitalized Feliz could net them a younger piece if the Kansas City coaching staff is able to get the hard-throwing righty back on track.
The Reds will promote young righty Luis Castillo to make his MLB debut on Friday, as C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Skipper Bryan Price cited the 24-year-old’s strike-throwing ability as a prime motivation for his call-up over a few other hurlers who are working at the team’s Triple-A affiliate. Castillo, who came over in the offseason deal that sent Dan Straily to the Marlins, has impressed thus far at Double-A. Through 80 1/3 innings over 14 starts, he owns a 2.58 ERA with a healthy 9.1 K/9 to go with just 1.5 BB/9.
Here are some more notes from Cinci and the game’s central divisions:
- In other Reds pitching news, veteran righty Homer Bailey is set to make his season debut on Saturday, Rosecrans notes, so long as a pen session today goes well. Bailey, 31, has turned in three strong rehab outings at Triple-A, allowing just two earned runs on 11 hits through 16 2/3 innings while sporting a 17:3 K/BB ratio. The Reds will hope that can carry over into the majors, as Bailey remains an important player for the organization this year and into the future. He’s owed $19MM in 2017 and another $49MM over the next two campaigns (including a buyout on a 2020 mutual option). Bailey is working back from surgery for bone spurs in his elbow, the most recent of several procedures, and hasn’t turned in a full season’s work since way back in 2013.
- The Cardinals, meanwhile, ought to be preparing to sell at the deadline this summer, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch argues. Ticket sales remain strong despite the club’s scuffles, he notes, but that doesn’t mean 2017 contention is terribly realistic for a club that sits five games under .500. (It is fair to note, though, that the Cards are still just four back in a mediocre NL Central.) As for potential chips, Ortiz suggests that pending free agent starter Lance Lynn ought to be made available, along with relievers Trevor Rosenthal and Seung-Hwan Oh.
- The Royals are seeing some progress from southpaw Danny Duffy, as Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. Duffy, 28, seems to be one more pen session away from embarking upon a rehab stint, though manager Ned Yost suggested he’ll likely require three minor-league starts before returning to the majors. When he’s finally able to return from his oblique strain, Duffy figures to represent quite an impactful addition for a K.C. team that has pushed back toward contention even without its top hurler.
- As the Tigers struggle to stay afloat in the AL Central, the club is dealing yet again with bullpen woes, as Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press writes. Skipper Brad Ausmus suggested that he isn’t terribly confident in the bulk of the club’s relievers, which isn’t terribly surprising to hear given the numbers. Shane Greene may have eclipsed Alex Wilson as the team’s primary setup option, it seems, but as Fenech notes the Tigers still are struggling to hand off to closer Justin Wilson. While youngster Joe Jimenez is throwing again at Triple-A, Detroit is understandably taking things slowly with him, leaving few clear options for a club that sits six games under .500 entering today’s action.
- Breakout first baseman Yonder Alonso would like to sign an extension with the Athletics, but they’re “nearly certain” to put him on the block, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Contrary to Olney’s argument that there might not be much of a market for first basemen, Morosi contends that three AL playoff hopefuls – New York, Seattle and Los Angeles – could each stand to upgrade at the position. The Yankees will prioritize beefing up their rotation and may battle the Red Sox for Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, per Morosi, but Greg Bird’s injury issues might also put Alonso on their radar. The lefty-swinging, fly ball-hitting Alonso, who has slashed .302/.397/.630 with 17 home runs in 219 plate appearances during a contract year, would seemingly be a perfect fit for the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium.
- The Royals have signed high school catcher MJ Melendez, their second-round selection, to a deal worth $2.1MM, Baseball America’s Hudson Belinsky reports (via Twitter). The bonus is well beyond the assigned $1,295,7000 slot value for the 52nd overall pick, though K.C. accounted for some of that draft pool money with their below-slot deal with first-rounder Nick Pratto. Melendez had already committed to Florida International University where his father is the baseball team’s head coach, so clearly a strong financial incentive was needed for Melendez to begin his pro career. In pre-draft rankings, Melendez was rated 32nd by Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen, 52nd by Baseball America, 60th by ESPN’s Keith Law and 72nd by MLB.com.
The Royals and first-round pick Nick Pratto have agreed to a deal, pending a physical, report William Boor and Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. Pratto, the 14th overall selection, will sign for $3.45MM – slightly below the $3,727,600 slot value of the pick.
“We are extremely excited to have drafted Nick Pratto and confident we will sign him at the appropriate time,” said Royals general manager Dayton Moore. “We remain in the signing process and nothing is complete at this time.”
Pratto is both a high school first baseman and a pitcher, but the Royals drafted the 18-year-old California native as as position player. Thanks to his offensive abilities, Pratto ranked as the 13th-best player going into this year’s draft, according to both Keith Law of ESPN and Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com. FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen (17th) and Baseball America (24th) also regarded the soon-to-be former USC commitment as a first-round talent entering the proceedings, with each of the aforementioned prospect gurus praising the lefty-swinging Pratto’s bat. Additionally, Pratto offers “very advanced” defense at first, per BA.
- The Royals picked up infielder/outfielder Zach Walters on a minor league deal, according to MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (Twitter link). Walters, 27, was hitting well for the independent Kansas City T-Bones before returning to affiliated ball. He’s seen time with the Nats, Indians and Dodgers in the Majors and has shown power but struggled to get on base. In 181 Major League plate appearances, he’s a .176/.227/.382 hitter with 10 home runs. He’s been better in his Triple-A career, hitting .262/.309/.475 through 1711 plate appearances in parts of six seasons.